A new kind of fraternity

Students restart service organization and initiate founding members

November 2, 2014

Two sophomores spark the return of co-ed service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega after 6-year hiatus.

Alpha Phi Omega existed at W&L for 21 years, but during its last two years on campus, it began to fall apart. Due to continued disorganization and lack of interest, national headquarters pulled the plug on the W&L chapter in 2008.

Austin Frank and Olivia Howell, both ‘17, decided to revive the organization on campus this year. The pair worked over the summer to fill out the paperwork and contact the national organization to re-charter.

Frank said, “Olivia and I were both interested in creating a place where you could have some of the social and professional connections of a social fraternity, but where the main focus of the group is on service instead.”

The official title of the group is the W&L APO Petitioning Group. In September, they went to Lynchburg College to attend a Petitioning Group Pinning Ceremony for both W&L and Lynchburg College. This served as the first joint Petitioning Group Pinning Ceremony in APO history.

Frank and Howell hope to build up the group across grade levels and begin service work in the community on a larger scale.

Frank said: “Anyone, any year can join. The goal is to meet new people and do service for the campus, the community, the nation and the fraternity.”

One of the appeals of APO is that people already involved in social fraternities and sororities can still join this group. While a welcome addition, it may also serve as an alternative to traditional Greek life at W&L.

Caroline Barber ’18 said, “I think it’s really cool that APO is creating a unique opportunity for freshmen who might not want to go Greek.”

This unique opportunity will offer students partnerships across a wide spread of philanthropic organizations.

Frank Reed Horton founded APO’s first chapter at Lafayette College in Easton, PA, on Dec. 15, 1925. He based the organization on the ideals of scouting. The organization’s mission is “to develop leadership, promote friendship, and provide service.” APO is partners with the American Cancer Society–Relay for Life, America’s Promise Alliance, Boy Scouts of America, Campfire, Girl Scouts of the United States of America and Youth Service America.

The pinning ceremony that took place on Oct. 26 marked the official first step for many people involved in this new opportunity. The group currently consists of 11 members, including the co-presidents and other leaders. Most of the members were sophomores, but they will be doing another round of pledging in the spring.  The new members are required to learn about the history of the organization and their symbols.

The ceremony also marked the first day of pledgeship. Alpha Phi Omega has a strict “no hazing” policy during their 6 week long pledging process.

Non-members are still welcome to attend the upcoming events in this recruitment phase of the semester. However, by the spring, it may become more difficult to participate in the events as a non-member.

Frank said, “Ideally, everyone participating should have gone through pledgeship.”

Upcoming projects include working with the Fairfield Business Organization on Nov. 15 and trips to the local SPCA.

Howell said, “About twenty midterm-weary students will head to walk dogs, play with kittens and provide some much needed human interaction.” 

The leaders hope the re-chartering paperwork will be complete soon, so the group will become an official chapter by January 2015.

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