Greek Life at Tufts University is back in the spotlight for the second time in one week. Unlike the first story, which centered around the hazing of pledges, now it’s the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority that is getting the negative attention. It’s come to our attention that since the beginning of the fall 2016 semester, 40 members of the Tufts AOII sorority have dropped from the organization in protest of the fact that their AOII Nationals delayed the approval of a transgender student, identified as Harper Hopkins.
Eventually, AOII extended an invitation to Hopkins, but many in the Tufts community and AOII sorority believe that it was too little and too late. The sorority’s national office explained that the delay was due to the fact that it lacked a policy on admitting transgender students. Here’s a statement that AOII Nationals emailed to Heat Street:
“The chapter will continue to recruit members who embrace diversity, are passionate about social action, and are dedicated to maintaining their high standards of excellence. … Alpha Omicron Pi believes that all individuals are unique, with inherent worth and dignity, and should be treated with respect.”
For her part, Hopkins initially accepted the bid, but quit soon thereafter, claiming that her initial treatment was a major issue. She believed AOII believed in “systematic inequality and structural violence” and decried AOII’s “oppressive policies and behavior.” Tufts University has also backed Hopkins on the issue.
“Tufts University has been named one of the best universities in the country for LGBTQ students by a number of organizations,” said Patrick Collins, a Tufts University spokesman. “We believe that students should be able to join the Greek Life organization with which they identify.”
From a personal level, I think that AOII Nationals was dealt a tough hand. The truth is that, in today’s age, transgender issues are already a hot topic, so it was important for the sorority to take some time to figure out where they would stand on admitting or denying transgender students. While you could argue that AOII could have accepted Hopkins on an individual basis (which they could have), I think that legally AOII Nationals were trying to figure out the answer to the bigger question. They shouldn’t really be penalized for that.
I believe that if Greek Life manages to last another decade, you’ll soon see a split between fraternities and sororities who are willing to accept transgender students and those who aren’t. I’ll be the first to admit that the idea of transgender identities/gender fluidity is confusing for me, but I recognize that it’s definitely an important topic to discuss.
If the AOII sisters wanted Harper Hopkins to join, then she should have been accepted first and dealt with by Nationals afterward (if at all). An ex-girlfriend of mine once told me that her father, a famous doctor, was part of a Yale University FIJI class who accepted the first black pledge. The way that she told it, the FIJI Nationals was so outraged at the decision that they revoked the charter. Obviously, her father and that class were on the right side of history, and allegedly they wore it as a badge of pride, so I say that the sisters should accept Hopkins if they want, and silently challenge their Nationals office to do something about it.