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Alpha Omicron Pi (ΑΟΠ, AOII) is an international women's fraternity promoting friendship for a lifetime, inspiring academic excellence and lifelong learning, and developing leadership skills through service to the Fraternity and community. AOII was founded on January 2, 1897 at Barnard Collegemarker on the campus of Columbia University in New York. Its founders were Stella George Stern Perry, Helen St. Clair Mullan, Elizabeth Heywood Wyman, and Jessie Wallace Hughan. The four founders met in the Columbia Law Library to begin their fraternity and to forever seal their friendships and the friendships of all future members. Today, Alpha Omicron Pi is an international women's fraternity, with 188 collegiate chapters and 320 alumnae chapters in Canada and the U.S.A. Its international headquarters is located in Brentwoodmarker, Tennesseemarker and it is a member group of the National Panhellenic Conference, which is the governing council of the 26 member women's fraternities and sororities.

Like many other Greek organizations for women, Alpha Omicron Pi is technically a fraternity, not a sorority, although both terms are often used. The term sorority was not yet in widespread use at the time of Alpha Omicron Pi's founding, and therefore it is officially a "fraternity for women."

History

Alpha Omicron Pi was founded January 2, 1897 by four women; Jessie Wallace Hughan, Helen St. Clair Mullan, Elizabeth Heywood Wyman and Stella George Stern Perry. Within one week of the founding of Alpha Omicron Pi, the four founders used their initiation Ritual for the first time, initiating Anne Richardson Hall.

National Expansion of the women's fraternity began in 1898. The resulting chapter was the Pi Chapter at New Orleans' Sophie Newcomb College (part of Tulane University). Stella Stern, then President of Alpha Omicron Pi, contacted a New Orleans classmate, Evelyn Reed, who expressed compatible ideas about fraternities. Evelyn's sister, Katherine Reed, became the first pledge of Pi Chapter, and after being initiated by Stella, found others to initiate.

The Founders of ΑΟΠ:
Stella George Stern Perry
Helen St.Clair Mullan
Elizabeth Heywood Wyman
Jessie Wallace Hughan


Symbols

The Αlpha Οmicron Pi badge comprises the Greek letters, Α (Alpha), Ο (Omicron), and Π (Pi) superimposed on each other with a ruby at the Apex of the A (Alpha). Badges may be worn by initiated members only. If it is worn with another pin, it is to be placed above it and to the right. No other pin, badge, insignia, such as a fraternity pin, Greek letter indicating the name of a chapter or a symbol denoting an office, may be attached to the badge in any way, whether by a chain or by hanging it on the fastener.

Alpha Omicron Pi has only one color, cardinal. It is the color of the Fraternity flower, the ruby and the ribbon sometimes worn under the badge to welcome a new collegiate chapter.

Alpha Omicron Pi has only one jewel, the ruby. The occasional use of pearls or diamonds in special badges has no significance or special meaning.

To Dragma, the Greek, is translated as "the sheaf." The name was selected for three reasons: because it is a reminder of the common interest whch unites all AOIIs; because it is a record of accomplishment, or harvest; and because it fittingly describes the purpose of such a publication, the uniting of members through communication. It is published three times per year, and has won numerous awards since its inception.

The binding together of wheat into a sheaf in the new member pin represents individuals bound by the common bond of Alpha Omicron Pi. The wheat indicates usefulness in its harvest. The binding together of the wheat into a sheaf gave Alpha Omicron Pi the new member pin, the name for the magazine, and the rings for the president and international president.

The Nineteenth Century French rose, General Jacqueminot, a deep red rose, was chosen as the flower of Alpha Omicron Pi because its color is the symbol of the central and essential virtue of the Fraternity and because it does not have thorns. Its choice had no connection with any legend, poem or story. This strong red rose, with its overtones of courage and vigor, was selected for its richness of color and fragrance, combines with softness and modesty of bearing. The Jacqueminot Rose is not available at most florists, so any deep red rose which is available may be used.

While not an official symbol, the Fraternity and our chapters consider the Panda to be its mascot because it is the only animal that does not have any natural enemies.

Believing in their beginnings in Greek tradition, ΑΟΠ does not have a coat of arms, but uses a Jacqueminot rose as their symbol. A coat of arms is a medieval or masonic tradition, and therefore has no roots in the Greek tradition. ΑΟΠ is the only Greek organization without a coat of arms.

The fraternity teaches its members never to use the abbreviations "AOPi" or "AOTT," but instead always to use "AOII" or "ΑΟΠ."

The fraternity awards an annual prize to the organization's outstanding chapter, the Jessie Wallace Hughan Cup.

Chapters

Since 1897, Alpha Omicron Pi has had over 141,000 initiates and maintains 188 chapters, with its oldest existing chapter (Omicron) at The University of Tennessee Knoxville (founded 1902). Its Alpha chapter at Barnard College of Columbia University in New York closed in 1914 when Greek Life was abolished at the school.

Naming

AOII's chapter names are unique compared to other Greek groups. Most sororities and fraternities are named sequentially, with the first chapter being Alpha, the second Beta, and so on. Breaking from this tradition, AOII does not dictate its chapter designations. Each colony of the fraternity selects its own chapter name and corresponding sub-motto. In this way, chapter designations have special meaning for the members. The first three chapters were Alpha, at Barnard College of Columbia University, Pi, at Sophie Newcomb College of Tulane University and Omicron, at the University of Tennessee. The only chapter of these three that is still active is Omicron.

Mission statement

"Women Enriched through Lifelong Friendship."

Philanthropy

The philanthropy for Alpha Omicron Pi is Arthritis Research. Arthritis Research was chosen because it is the nation's leading cause of disability. Since adopting Arthritis Research as its international philanthropy in 1967, Alpha Omicron Pi has raised over $1.5 million dollars for grants and research.

Though Arthritis Research is the international philanthropy, chapters often support other local or national causes.

AOII's original philanthropy was the Frontier Nursing Service.

The Alpha Omicron Pi Foundation

Established in 1977, the Alpha Omicron Pi Foundation was created to support the philanthropies and members of the Fraternity. The Foundation provides scholarships, educational grants and aid to sisters while providing the Fraternity with leadership grants and providing arthritis grants. The mission of the foundation is to fund programs that promote intellectual, ethical and leadership development.

The Alpha Omicron Pi Foundation offers support in the following areas:
  • Diamond Jubilee Scholarships
  • Educational and Leadership Grants
  • The Ruby Fund
  • Endowment Fund
  • Arthritis Research


Alpha Omicron Pi's Values

Alpha Omicron Pi has the following values:
  • "Trusting and respecting each other;
  • Building lifelong friendships;
  • Contributing time, talent and financial resources;
  • Promoting integrity;
  • Developing leaders;
  • Striving for excellence;
  • Encouraging innovation and creativity;
  • Using teamwork and collaboration;
  • Acting philanthropically;
  • And being' a living example."


Notable alumnae



References

  1. Mary Jo Buhle, "Jessie Wallace Hughan (1875-1955)," in Mari Jo Buhle, Paul Buhle, and Dan Georgakas (eds.), Encyclopedia of the American Left. New York: Garland Publishing Co., 1990; pg. 339.


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