Celebrating AOII

in RT&J

by Karen Hickman, Theta, (DePauw U), Rituals, Traditions, and Jewelry Committee

On the inside flap of AOII’s commemorative book Celebrate the Century, former RT&J member and Centennial Celebration Chair, Nancy Anderson Clark (Rho, Northwestern U), penned the following paragraphs:

“During the time when the United States Supreme Court approved racial segregation under the “separate but equal doctrine” in Plessy v. Ferguson, the Founders of Alpha Omicron Pi developed an organization that would not discriminate based on race or religion.

During the time when society placed great importance in social stature, the Founders of Alpha Omicron Pi developed an organization that would not be narrowly exclusive.

During the time when the United States was just coming out of a four-year economic depression and preserving one’s own financial security was a paramount concern, the Founders of Alpha Omicron Pi developed an organization dedicated to being of value to others, as well as to its members.

Most AOIIs are familiar with major points in Alpha Omicron Pi’s history, but they probably seldom think of those developments in historical context. When played against the backdrop of world events, the fraternity’s history becomes even more intriguing and more profoundly a source of pride.”

At the time of AOII’s 100th anniversary in 1997, Nancy reminded us of how the words, hopes and visions of our Founders were as relevant at the end of the twentieth century as when they emerged at the end of the nineteenth century. Fast forward 25 years later to today, as AOII sisters begin to celebrate our 125th anniversary, the same words, hope and visions continue to be relevant.

This is a question many AOII sisters, as well as those outside the fraternity, have asked countless times through the decades: How is AOII relevant today? Again, Nancy’s observations about AOII’s inception answer this question: AOII is not discriminatory; AOII is not narrowly exclusive; AOII is of value not only to its members, but, more importantly, to others in the world around us.

As the world navigates a global pandemic, political chaos, racial unrest and economic uncertainty in very personal ways, AOII values help sisters make choices, assist them to overcome adversity and shine brightly.  In a year when charitable giving has plummeted, AOII continues to award Arthritis Foundation grants, academic and leadership scholarships and financial assistance to members via the Ruby Fund. AOII took advantage of virtual recruitment as an avenue to bring new members to the sisterhood. This forged authentic connections with women who might otherwise not participate in recruitment or have opportunity to befriend other college women. Lastly, our members never lost their connection to Ritual because RT&J adapted our rituals, ceremonies and services for virtual use to keep our AOII values front and foremost during these difficult times.

As we celebrate our 125th anniversary, we thank our Founders, Stella, Helen, Jessie & Bess, for their forward thinking and for creating AOII, a sisterhood and organization in which all members can take great pride. Cheers to another 100 years of AOII sisterhood!

You may contact the Rituals, Traditions, and Jewelry Committee (RT&J) about anything Ritual-related at RT&J@alphaomicronpi.org.

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