Court stay blocks eviction of IU Tri Delta sorority members

Despite being closed by its national organization, members of the Tri Delta sorority chapter at Indiana University can continue living in the East Third Street house, at least for now.

Members of the Delta Omicron chapter were supposed to vacate the house by 5 p.m. Sunday, but the eviction was postponed under a stay granted March 30 in Monroe Circuit Court.

The ruling postponed the eviction for no less than 14 days, with April 13 included in that window. A court conference was not scheduled for April 14 because Monroe County Circuit Court is closed on that date for Good Friday. Lawyers for both parties may jointly request an attorney conference with the court prior to the expiration date.

Tri Delta’s national organization closed the Delta Omicron chapter in March, but specific reasons for the closure have not been made public. A March 4 news release from the national organization in Dallas, Texas, cited an investigation that found chapter members had been “involved in activities that do not represent our high standards or align with Tri Delta’s purpose.”

The national organization’s chief executive officer, Karen Hughes White, declined to elaborate as did members of the Delta Omicron chapter when reached for comment last month. Reached by phone Wednesday, White again declined to comment, citing ongoing discussions between the parties involved.

Since the closure was announced, Delta Omicron chapter members, their parents and alumnae have called for reinstatement through online petitions and inviting news media to what they referred to as a circle of sisterhood outside their house. Members, alumni and house staff held hands and took turns saying why they love Tri Delta. Several people at the event declined interviews, instead referring a reporter to Peter French of the Benesch law firm in Indianapolis for comment.

French issued a statement March 11 saying the national organization hasn’t provided a clear reason for withdrawing the chapter’s charter. A voice mail message left for French on Wednesday was not immediately returned.

In her March interview with The Herald-Times, White disputed several claims in French’s statement. Citing an obligation to the privacy and safety of chapter members, White was not willing to say what led to the chapter’s closure or three consecutive semesters of probation imposed by the national organization. The chapter was not facing any disciplinary actions from IU.

White did say a group of alumnae and members of the national organization’s executive board conducted multiple investigations related to member conduct. She said the national organization provided alumnae volunteers and support staff to help remedy the situation, but chapter members instead chose to ignore their recommendations.

White said in March that Delta Omicron Housing Corp. owns the chapter house at 818 E. Third St. and that organization would decide when the 74 women living there would have to leave. Attempts to speak with Phyllis Clapacs, president of the Delta Omicron Housing Corp., for this story were unsuccessful.

The Delta Omicron chapter accepted 52 new members during recruitment earlier this year before its charter was withdrawn. On March 4, those women were released from their obligations with Tri Delta, allowing them to accept a bid to another sorority immediately. White said a number of sororities at IU continue to recruit through a process called continuous open bidding. The women will also be allowed to go through recruitment again next year, according to an IU spokeswoman.

Tri Delta has had a chapter at IU for 100 years. White said the national organization would eventually like to re-establish a chapter at IU. She also clarified that although Tri Delta is a private member organization for women, the national organization refers to itself as a fraternity because when it was established in 1888, the word sorority did not exist.

Members will likely have to vacate the Delta Delta Delta house at 818 E. Third St. in Bloomington after the sorority’s national organization announced Saturday the closure of the IU chapter. Monroe County GIS | Courtesy photo

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