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SJSU sorority claims unfair treatment over communal housing during pandemic

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – One sorority in the South Bay is speaking out over fears about communal living and alleged financial exploitation by its parent organization.

San Jose State’s Delta Sigma chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi says they are being forced to live communally during the pandemic and that the organization is refusing to allow members to opt-out of their contracts.

“And our founders would be disappointed to see the situation that we are stuck in fighting for today,” Katie Jensen, sorority member, said.

At a news conference Wednesday, San Jose State University’s Alpha Omicron Pi sorority publicly called out its national leadership for not being very sisterly.

“For AOPi to simply deny our struggles during a pandemic and economic crisis is not sisterly. It is not sisterly to hold young adults to contracts signed prior to a pandemic,” Jensen said.

The sorority says at least 28 of its members are being forced to live communally during the pandemic and that headquarters is refusing to allow tenants, many of whom are facing financial hardship, to opt-out of their $10,000 annual housing contracts.

“These contracts are so hard to get out of, we currently have members of Delta Sigma who plan on dropping out of school for the fall semester because that’s the only way that AOPi HQ will let them out of their financial contracts,” Briena Brown, sorority member, said. 

Tenants are also demanding the waiver of 2-3 thousand dollars in annual fees that go to maintain the facility at 8th and San Salvador, just off-campus.  

As they attend virtual classes, members are also worried about the risks associated with living in close quarters, as some members have asthma.

With roughly two-thirds of it’s local membership identifying as people of color or low-income, the sorority and some of its supporters suspect discrimnation may be a factor.

“We are understandably sensitive to the treatment of people of color, by national sororities and fraternities, but we have no evidence thus far that race is a factor in the situation. We will be looking into it,” Rev Jethro Moore, NAACP, said. 

The dispute is between the sorority and it’s national leadership but the university is working behind the scenes to find a solution, says vice president of student affairs Patrick Day.

“We’re not done with those conversations and we’re going to continue to see if we can find a way to help our students to be able to have the Greek experience that they want to have and be able to navigate what is an incredibly challenging time right now,” Day said. 

There was no immediate response from the sorority’s national leadership.

In the meantime, the San Jose State Homeless Alliance tells KRON4 that they’ve heard from several sorority members inquiring about other resources saying they’re forced to choose between tuition and rent.

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