28 - Moving Forward From a Closed Chi Omega Chapter

Christine Del Favero, Theta Alpha/Cornell U

My name is Christine and I’m from a closed Chi Omega chapter.

In the pre-Facebook, pre-text world, I was completely alone when I received the piece of mail I knew would break my heart. A letter addressed to me from the Executive Headquarters could only be one thing. A glance at the first line, “With great sadness, the Governing Council of Chi Omega Fraternity announces the closing . . . ” and great waves of sorrow and guilt crashed into me.

I had been dreading this letter. Our chapter had struggled for years, and our numbers were on a downward trend when I was a collegian a decade earlier. The guilt was immediate and overwhelming.

As the days passed my chapter Sisters called each other, trying to make sense of what had happened, and the loss morphed into anger. Why my chapter?

Theta Alpha members, 1917 charter members, and their chapter house in 1928

I was stuck there—hurt, guilty, and angry—until I had an experience that showed me I was the only one holding myself in the past. I was at Convention and found myself in a casual circle of Sisters that included Chi Omega’s now- National Archivist Emeritus, Jan Boyd Blackwell. I introduced myself, and, while the specifics of what I said escape me, I mentioned that I was from a closed chapter. I don’t remember if I said it with embarrassment or anger, but I hope I said it with respect. Jan looked at me in her gracious, gentle way, and calmly told me she had, while serving on the Governing Council, closed her own collegiate chapter.

Remembering that moment still moves me to tears. This Sister—this dedicated, venerable, giving woman—had made the only decision she could in the situation, and in so doing, ended the collegiate time of her own chapter. Yet here she was, serving the Fraternity with grace and dignity and fully experiencing Chi Omega Sisterhood. I swallowed my guilt, anger, loss, and sorrow. I decided that my sadness wasn’t helping me, and it wasn’t helping my Sisters. I decided to embrace Chi Omega for a lifetime.

Theta Alpha members, 1943

Many Sisters from my chapter remain my dearest friends, and it breaks my heart to know how much some of us still hurt, how upset some of us still are. It’s taken me years to heal from the loss, and there are still moments when I feel survivor guilt. What if I had tried harder? What could I have done differently? But rehashing can’t change the past, and Sisterhood, like any aspect of life, can only be lived forward.

How would you feel embracing—really embracing—all that Chi Omega wants to offer you? Sure, there are chapter events, book clubs, volunteer opportunities, and Eleusinian celebrations, but those are just the beginning. Attending those events and activities leads us to the true heart of Chi Omega. Sisterhood. Friendships. Lifelong connections. New best friends.

Like many chapters at Cornell in the 1960’s, Theta Alpha closed in 1963. The chapter was recolonized in 1987, closing again in 2003.

I had the opportunity to serve Chi Omega as a regional alumnae director, traveling throughout the Northeast, visiting alumnae and helping them get the most out of the lifetime of their alumnae experience. In my travels, I met many alumnae from closed chapters. While we all mourn the loss of our initiating chapter, these women are now engaged in alumnae chapters, supporting collegiate chapters, and serving our Sisterhood on the national level.

Chi Omega has so much to offer each and every one of us for a lifetime, regardless of our collegiate chapter’s status. I urge you to join me in embracing the Chi Omega of today. You can find an alumnae chapter near you or search for Sisters in your area using the Find A Chi O tool on the Chi Omega website.

In every state and around the globe, there are Sisters who would love to hear from you. Why deny Chi Omega the gift of yourself, or deny yourself the joys of Sisterhood for a lifetime? I invite you to connect. I invite you to join me in recommitting yourself to Chi Omega.

Christine is a longtime volunteer for Chi Omega. She fell in love with the alumnae experience while serving six years as a regional alumnae director, traveling around the Northeast connecting Sisters to each other and Chi Omega for a lifetime. Locally, Christine is an advisor at Sigma Mu/Babson College and a member of the Greater Boston Alumnae Chapter.