Tri-Delt to localize, disaffiliate from national organization

by Parker Richards | 5/28/15 8:21pm

More than 70 percent of Delta Delta Delta sorority members voted to localize.
Source: Gabrielle Kirlew/The Dartmouth Staff

Delta Delta Delta sorority will disaffiliate from its national organization and become a local sorority after a chapter-wide vote, Tri-Delt president Lauren Buchanan ’16 said Thursday. Tri-Delt will need to select a new name, new colors and will also face various logistical hurdles before it can officially reincorporate.

“We’re going to be the same sorority,” Buchanan said. “We feel very strongly that we are Dartmouth Tri-Delt before we are Tri-Delta, which is what our national wants us to call it.”

Buchanan said that College officials have confirmed that the sorority will not need to undergo the colony phase that most new Greek organizations undergo when they reincorporate as a local organization.

College spokesperson Diana Lawrence wrote in an email that the College will support Tri-Delt financially through the localization process, although what those costs could be remain uncertain.

A threshold of 70 percent of members was needed for the localization vote to pass, Buchanan said. While the vote was “close,” she does not anticipate that many members who voted against localization will choose to disaffiliate from the new local organization.

“I think that most sisters who are against it are still very connected to the house and excited about the house and realize that we aren’t going to be a materially different sorority,” she said.

While a document on localization released by the Panhellenic Council earlier this term said that a national organization’s house can remain with the national if a significant number of members choose to remain affiliated with the national sorority, rather than the new local one, Buchanan said that she anticipates that Tri-Delt will keep its house when it becomes a local sorority.

Tri-Delt will now undergo a number of administrative and technical arrangements before it can reincorporate as a local sorority. Among those arrangements will be reincorporation as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with the state, organizing a new insurance scheme through the College rather than the national organization, and some reorganization of accounts and finances.

Tri-Delt members voted on localization about two weeks ago, but the results were not announced until Thursday because of the need to clarify with College officials the status of the sorority’s finances, Buchanan said. The sorority had to confirm that in the event the national organization seized the over $90,000 in finances it keeps in a chapter savings account with national, the College would compensate the house for that money, she said. On Thursday, interim Dean of the College Inge-Lise Ameer told Tri-Delt Buchanan that the College would commit to doing so, Buchanan said.

While some local sororities operate “open basements” and frequently host campus-wide events, Tri-Delt has no plans to do so in the near future, Buchanan said. The house will continue to host invite-only events at its discretion, including tails and other social functions, she said, though the house could have a conversation about having an open basement in the future.

“You won’t be able to knock on Tri-Delt’s basement door and come on in whenever you want,” Buchanan said. “They’re welcome if they’re invited, but we value our safe space.”

Major factors in the decision to localize included the perception of many members that Dartmouth’s branch of Tri-Delt did not align closely with its national organization’s priorities and financial concerns brought on by the high percentage of dues that are sent to the national organization, she said.

Around 60 percent of Tri-Delt’s termly dues are sent to its national organization, Tri-Delt vice president of finance Lauren Martin ’16 said. While Tri-Delt has the lowest dues of any sorority, its national organization also receives a very high percentage of those dues, Buchanan said.

Financial aid was a major factor in Tri-Delt’s decision to localize. The national organization bans the sorority from awarding financial aid to members, a practice that Dartmouth’s branch of Tri-Delt has traditionally ignored, Martin said.

“We’ve never done it, and we were never going to do it, but their policy is that if you can’t pay all of your dues, after a certain amount of time you can’t participate in any sisterhood events, and after a certain amount of time you can’t participate in any Tri-Delt events, then after 90 days you’re just automatically terminated and lose all of your privileges,” she said.

The sorority maintains a separate bank account in Hanover that it currently uses to provide financial aid against the rules of its national, Martin said. This term, Tri-Delt met 100 percent of the financial aid needs of its members.

“That’s something that we actively and necessarily have to hide from everyone who works for our national organization,” she said.

Tri-Delt does not anticipate raising its dues when it becomes local and may cut them within several terms if the financial transition is smooth, Martin said.

Since Tri-Delt does not anticipate opening its basement to campus, it hopes social dues will remain consistent with current figures, Buchanan said.

“We don’t foresee this big increase in ‘beer money’ that the other local sororities have to front,” she said.

Roughly $65,000 per year will be saved by localizing, Martin said. The house will, however, face higher insurance costs by localizing since it must buy insurance through the College instead of its national organization, she said.

The maximum limit of $12,000 per year that local sororities pay the College for insurance is “about double” what Tri-Delt pays its national for insurance, Martin said.

Tri-Delt hopes to have resolved the logistics of localizing by the fall and will begin meeting in coming weeks to decide upon a new name, colors, constitution and bylaws, Buchanan said. The organization will lose paraphernalia associated with its national organization now that it has decided to localize. This could include binders, contracts and other items, she said.

The house hopes that its localization process will serve as a model for other houses curious about going local, Buchanan said.

“We hope that from all of the research we’ve done and all of the prodding we’ve done, it will open up the opportunity for other sororities that are also interested in going local to make that change, because lack of information shouldn’t be a reason why an organization doesn’t disaffiliate from their national if their members want them to,” she said.

Panhellenic Council spokesperson Allison Chou ’17 could not comment due to time constraints. Greek Leadership Council chair Elizabeth Wilkins ’16 did not respond to a request for comment by press time.