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Tau Delta sorority becomes gender neutral

Tau Delta sorority becomes gender neutral


Since its founding in 1847, Otterbein University has prided itself in equality for all campus community members, giving each person the opportunity to reach their full potential. Tau Delta sorority found themselves facing a situation that would put those ideals into real-world application.

In 2014, some members of Tau Delta expressed concerns of being exclusionary if current or future members may identify as a gender viewed as outside of the female sex norm. Once these fears were vocalized, the sorority knew it was time to make a change.

“We began to alter our perceptions and operate under the assumption that gender and sex are entirely different,” said Tau Delta Vice President Carrie Coisman. “From there, we decided to fully change our chapter to being an open place to belong.”

Inclusive language edits were made to member songs and the chapter constitution, which originally specifically only referred to women. It all culminated in the spring of 2015 when Tau Delta became the first gender neutral sorority on campus.

“When those changes went through and we became open to everyone it felt great. This was the right thing to do. We just happened to be the first, but I see the opportunity for other Greek organizations to do the same within the next 10 years or so,” Coisman said.

Widespread support for the change to gender neutrality came from the entire Otterbein community almost immediately. Tau Delta alumni did not hesitate or debate the transition, feeling it was what needed to happen. Coisman says she often hears how Tau Delta is used as an example by other organizations and faculty on how to run an organization the right way.

For all their efforts making their sorority a place for everyone to feel welcome, Tau Delta was awarded the 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Peace and Justice Award for an organization at the annual MLK Convocation held Jan. 20. Coisman said receiving the award was an affirmation that becoming a gender neutral sorority was the correct decision.

“The lack of resistance we felt from our fellow Greeks, Otterbein administration and the community is really a testament to the culture here,” Coisman said. “This was an immediate opportunity to instill those Otterbein values into our daily lives. To do otherwise would have been waste of our education.”


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