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Student letter calls for stronger Panhellenic response to Roe v. Wade decision

A student letter demanded a stronger response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade from Panhellenic.
A student letter demanded a stronger response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade from Panhellenic.

After hearing no immediate response from the Miami University Panhellenic Association (Panhellenic) regarding the overturning of Roe v. Wade, one student decided to take action. 

Annalise Chapdelaine, a junior majoring in diplomacy and global politics, comparative religion and German, is a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority. She thought Panhellenic didn’t do enough. 

So, she wrote a letter.

“I was already a little frustrated because [Alpha Delta Pi] didn’t send any information or any acknowledgement of what happened — everyone was essentially radio silent for two weeks,” Chapdelaine said. “I was kind of more frustrated by Miami [Panhellenic’s] lack of action, so I just sat down and wrote a letter about it.”

The letter, which was dated July 11, contains previous statements from Panhellenic about fostering conversations surrounding social issues and, as Chapdelaine wrote, it’s failing to meet these standards. 

The letter also calls on Panhellenic to create reproductive health resources for students, work with other Miami organizations to address the issue and engage more actively with the Panhellenic community as a whole. 

Although Panhellenic didn’t immediately respond, it did post a response to the Roe v. Wade decision on its Instagram page on July 7, four days before the letter was published.

The difficulties of getting college students to coordinate and take quick action were part of the problem in Panhellenic’s relative silence. 

Adriana Rivera, a senior political science major and the president of Miami Panhellenic, said the organization is actively drafting an in-depth statement to respond to the decision and had been working on it before Chapdelaine’s letter was published.

“A lot of [the silence] had to do with the fact that [the executive board] also had to process everything that was happening ... We are students and women too, and are facing the same consequences as everyone else,” Rivera said. “We made the decision to take our time, figure out what we want to say and how to best say that; to come up with resources instead of going right away and saying XYZ.”

Chapdelaine hopes the letter will convince Miami Panhellenic to take more action than just the Instagram post. She said a greater response is needed for the organization to live up to its reputation.

“I would hope that something the letter accomplished is rethinking this hypocrisy that has been displayed,” Chapdelaine said. “Hopefully, [Miami Panhellenic] has a chance to reflect on why they were so committed to [Diversity, equity and inclusion] values a couple of years ago but they’re staying quiet now, why it feels like it’s become performative, why they feel comfortable doing nothing when this is a traditionally women’s organization.”

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As of August 1, the open letter has garnered more than 110 signatures, including people in sororities as well as unaffiliated students. 

A second official statement was posted on the Panhellenic Instagram account on July 26, directly addressing Chapdelaine’s letter. It includes a list of actionable items for the organization, including co-sponsoring a town hall and developing a Women’s Rights and Empowerment team. The post also includes resources for reproductive care and sexual assault.

Rivera said the organization plans to co-sponsor an Oxford town hall on reproductive rights. She hopes to bring experts on the issue to Miami and make information accessible to the student body as a whole.

Hannah Vorderer, a junior Spanish and psychology major, signed the letter as a friend of Chapdelaine and a general member of Alpha Delta Pi. Vorderer said she helped review the letter before it was published.

“[Chapdelaine] sent the letter in our private group chat and was like, ‘Should I do this and would you sign it?’ and I said yes to both,” Vorderer said. “As an organization that stands for women across Miami’s campus, and with the high amount [in] Greek life, it’s important to acknowledge stuff like this.”

Vorderer did appreciate the Instagram post by Panhellenic, however. 

“I do believe [the post] was a good start, although it came a little bit late,” Vorderer said. “I have heard that there was a meeting on July 12 by [Panhellenic exec] to discuss how to further respond, but I would like at the very least an update on what that would be and what they are doing right now.”

Rivera acknowledged the executive board could have communicated that it was working on a statement.

“At first I was a little surprised [by the letter] because in my mind we had already been talking about this, but I didn’t take into account the fact that internally we were discussing it but members outside of our exec board don’t know that,” Rivera said. 

Rivera praised the letter for holding Panhellenic accountable.

“I did think [the letter] was a good thing because it’s always good to hold the people in charge accountable,” Rivera said. “I will always advocate for our members stating their opinions and wanting leaders to support them in the best way they can.”