emPower (Organization : Evanston, Ill.)
In April 1991 Northwestern sorority members Heather Bogdanoff (Delta Gamma), Laurie Bonney (Kappa Alpha Theta), and Allison Newman (Pi Beta Phi) founded the Panhellenic Office of Women's Empowerment (emPOWER) in response to “certain stigmas and stereotypes associated with both the Women's Center and the sororities.” A self-described feminist group linked with Northwestern University's Panhellenic Association, emPOWER was designed to raise awareness of women's issues within NU's sorority system and foster communication between Northwestern's sororities and its Women's Center. To achieve these ends, emPOWER scheduled activities that promoted feminist values and addressed issues such as sexual violence, pornography, and eating disorders.
emPOWER activities from 1991 to 1993 included fireside discussions; retreats; speakers; coffeehouse socials; self-defense classes; and the construction of a wreath symbolizing victims of sexual assault (1992). While most activities were limited to sorority and fraternity members, each year emPOWER also offered or participated in events open to the entire student body. In 1993, for example, emPOWER co-sponsored the campus-wide, sixth annual “Take Back the Night” march against sexual abuse.
emPOWER acquired a national charter in 1993 and encouraged the establishment of chapters at other educational institutions, including Albion College (Albion, Michigan), the University of Southern California, and Ohio State University.