By Allison Allgier, Epsilon Omega (Eastern Kentucky University) International Historian, and member of the Rituals, Traditions, and Jewelry Committee
Diversity, equity and inclusion are at the forefront of our thoughts and significant topics of discussion among our membership. Members have rightly inquired about how Alpha Omicron Pi was established and the foundation that has been the basis of our membership recruitment practices over the past 124 years.
A relevant letter from Founder Stella George Stern Perry was identified in our archives during a recent Historian visit to AOII Headquarters. The letter clearly identified the fundamental values and directions our four Founders established for our Fraternity from the very beginning of AOII.
“As usual, some chapters ask the Grand Historian for a few words about the beginning of Alpha Omicron Pi. In the first place, we did not found Alpha Omicron Pi. We were only the means of the founding. We cannot claim to have had the vision to see the wonders that have come to bless us. But there was a vision.
We were just four college girls like you, exceptional only in that we had a rare capacity for friendship and a rare friendship bound us. Even that was shared with our class in no slight degree. Earlier classes had been composed largely of much older students but we were all youngsters and we had all of the traditions of Barnard to start. I tell you this so that you may see the background out of which would come naturally the initiative –or audacity– to start a new fraternity. Why did we start a new one? Why undertake what must have seemed a needlessly hazardous and difficult thing?
Your Ritual will tell you. We wanted in our fraternity what is found there. We had to be sure.
We felt that the fine, true, stimulating friendship that bound us, that God-sent blessing that never wavered or weakened in all these years, that radiant something that meant one another and our class too, that joy of each in the others’ good, that pride in each other’s triumphs, that part of each in the others’ griefs, held a glory big enough and worthy enough to bless other hearts as ours were blest and bind other hearts as ours were bound. We would take no chances. We’d keep it in our hands, make a democratic and simple fraternity.
In a word, Love moved us; and whatever success we have all of us shared in AOII, you and your Founders equally, is due to the fact that Love always moves to, for, and itself where there is no failure.
We didn’t plan a mighty organization. But we did hope for one that should be free from narrowness and selfishness that should be a help, not a hazard to the social life of our schools and responsibility to its members forever. We did desire one that should exact kindness within and without its membership and demand service to others everywhere.
Our prayer today, I know I speak for all four, is that Alpha Omicron Pi may never forsake the ideals of democracy, simplicity and forbearing friendship for which it stands; and above all that its motto may be ever before us.
You are all founders now, as much as we were then. Love one another!”
During these difficult times, it gives me great comfort to know that the principles that Founders Stella, Jessie, Helen, and Bess provided for our organization remain as relevant today as they did back in 1897 when they started AOII. As we begin the new year may it bring us peace, good health, and a better world in which to live.
You may contact the Rituals, Traditions, and Jewelry Committee (RT&J) about anything Ritual-related at RT&J@alphaomicronpi.org.