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Several sisters of the University of Colorado's Theta Beta chapter of Delta Delta Delta were, like, sooooo bummed last week when the Tri Delta executive board announced that their memberships in the national sorority had been terminated.
"A culture change is in order," Tri Delta president Michelle Shimberg declared.
The expulsions resulted from the board's investigation of an off-campus sleepover for pledges last Halloween weekend at which underage new members were served vodka and boxed wine at a private home in Littleton owned by the parents of Keira O'Dell, the Tri Delta officer in charge of new-member education. Following that party, Lili Armstrong, who had feigned sleep to avoid being pressured to drink, quit the sorority and was subsequently harassed by her former sisters, at least three of whom vandalized her dorm room door and sent her threatening e-mail messages ("Mean Girls," December 16, 2004).
In a statement released last week, the Tri Delta executive board revealed that two of the members who got the boot were freshmen pledges Kristin Russell and Staci Dratler, who both pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment charges for covering Armstrong's dorm door with toilet paper and hand-lettered endearments such as "CONDEMED CAUTION: Home of the Bitch!"
Tri Delta national officials would not confirm whether O'Dell's membership was terminated, nor would they identify by name any of those punished other than Russell and Dratler, or reveal exactly how many CU Tri-Delts had been disciplined.
"The memberships of several members have been terminated, and other members have been placed on individual probation," Shimberg explained. "The chapter was also placed on probation until May 2005. The probation will be reviewed in May 2005. At that time, the executive board will determine the status of the chapter."
The Tri Delta sleepover took place barely a month after CU student and Chi Psi fraternity pledge Gordie Bailey died from alcohol poisoning following a night of binge drinking as part of a new-member initiation party. Following Bailey's death, CU administrators pressured fraternities and sororities to delay their fall rush recruitment drives until spring semester, giving new students more time to adjust to campus life. The sororities agreed to the delay; the fraternities so far have not. CU chancellor Richard Byyny also demanded that the national office of Chi Psi revoke the CU chapter's charter, which it did.
Shimberg said the CU Tri Delta chapter got a second chance only because revoking the chapter's charter would leave "one hundred young women on that campus who desperately need the guidance, support and friendship that sorority membership can provide.
"I am a parent of two teenaged daughters," Shimberg continued. "And given the situation described in the media accounts, it would have been easy to sever our relationship with this group of young women. However, we believe that Tri Delta adds value to the campuses and communities where we have chapters by encouraging our members to live up to the precepts in our purpose and the values expressed in our ritual.
"Tri Delta is committed to an aggressive plan to reform the Colorado chapter of Delta Delta Delta and to improve the Greek experience for all members."
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