Alpha Omicron Pi (ΑΟΠ, AOII) is an international women's fraternity whose goal is to forge lifelong friendships, inspire ambition and promote character, dignity, scholarship and college loyalty. ΑΟΠ was founded on January 2, 1897 at Barnard College 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 founders met in the Columbia Law Library to begin their fraternity and to forever seal their friendships and the friendships of all future members. The philosophy which the founders guided their principles included membership to women who share their belief in lifelong friendship, service and love. Membership is offered to women regardless of ethnicity, religion or socio-economic background.
Today, Alpha Omicron Pi is an international women's fraternity, with 212 collegiate chapters (active and inactive combined) and 320 alumnae chapters in Canada and the U.S.A. Its international headquarters is located in Brentwood, Tennessee, 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. It is the only member to the NPC to have one official color (cardinal), as all the other members have two to four official colors.
Like many other Greek organizations for women, Alpha Omicron Pi is 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." The fraternity promotes the values of service, scholarship, and leadership.
The Alpha chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi was founded January 2, 1897, at Barnard College 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 almost immediately in 1898. The resulting chapter was Pi Chapter at New Orleans' Sophie Newcomb College (part of Tulane University). Stella George Stern Perry, who was then the 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. After being initiated by Stella, she found others to initiate.
Alpha Omicron Pi has only one color, cardinal (it is the only member of the National Panhellenic Conference to only have one official color).
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.
A sheaf of wheat is a common symbol in ΑΟΠ, found in the new member pin, the rings for the chapter president, alumnae chapter president, and International president. 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 nineteenth-century French rose, 'Général Jacqueminot', a deep red rose with no thorns, was chosen as the flower of Alpha Omicron Pi because its color is the symbol of the central and essential virtue of the fraternity. 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, combined 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 originally an official symbol, in 2017, the fraternity and its chapters officially adopted the giant panda as its mascot.
The Alpha Omicron 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.
To Dragma, translated as "the sheaf," is the name of the fraternity's magazine. The name was selected for three reasons: because it is a reminder of the common interest which 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. Most recently, in 2008, To Dragma received the Fred F. Yoder Award for overall excellence.
Believing in their beginnings in Greek tradition, ΑΟΠ does not have a coat of arms, but uses an infinity 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.
Since 1897, Alpha Omicron Pi has initiated over 190,000 members in 212 collegiate chapters across the United States and Canada. The oldest continuously open ΑΟΠ chapter was installed at The University of Tennessee Knoxville (founded 1902). The second oldest is Zeta at University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska (founded 1903), followed by Delta at Tufts University (founded 1908) and Gamma at University of Maine in Orono, Maine (founded 1908).
Alpha chapter at Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City closed in 1914 when Greek Life was abolished at the school; however, the chapter has been recolonized and was reinstalled on May 5, 2013 at Columbia University.
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, ΑΟΠ 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 four chapters were Alpha at Barnard College of Columbia University, Pi at Sophie Newcomb College of Tulane University, Nu at New York University and Omicron at the University of Tennessee. Of these four, only Alpha and Omicron remain active.
Alpha Omicron Pi's official philanthropy is Arthritis. This cause was chosen because it is the leading cause of disability for women and affects all ages. Since adopting the Arthritis Foundation as its international philanthropy partner in 1967, Alpha Omicron Pi has raised millions of dollars for arthritis research, Juvenile Arthritis Power Packs, Juvenile Arthritis Camps and Conferences and so much more. AOII chapters and members provide volunteer hours and dollars to two Arthritis Foundation national events each year, Walk to Cure Arthritis (WTCA) in the spring, and the festive Jingle Bell Run (JBR) in November/December.
AOII's AOII’s signature philanthropy events on college campuses and in alumnae communities are known as “Strike Out Arthritis!” (SOA!) events. These fun local events might feature softball, baseball, volleyball or bowling tournaments, 5K Runs or other creative variations on the theme. Additionally, thanks to strong relationships between the Fraternity and all Major League Baseball Teams, SOA! fundraising events are held every year at ballparks throughout North America. The opportunity for a sisterhood event coupled with a fundraiser from ticket sales benefits both the Arthritis Foundation and AOII.
AOII members donate hundreds of stuffed panda bears each year, which are provided to children attending the two Juvenile Arthritis Conferences. Thanks to this long-time beloved tradition, AOII has become known as the Panda People to thousands of arthritis families across the world.
Canada’s Arthritis Society is the primary recipient of dollars raised by our AOII Canadian sisters. Chapters support the Arthritis Society’s signature annual event, Walk to Fight Arthritis, which is held in over 30 communities across Canada each June.
Outside of arthritis, another popular philanthropy opportunity provided by the Fraternity is Sisters for Soldiers. This project supports service men and women overseas through the collection of specified items along with handwritten heartwarming letters. Additionally, chapters often support other local or national causes, especially those benefitting women's causes. AOII's original philanthropy was the Frontier Nursing Service which brought essential health services to the poor in Appalachia.
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:
Alpha Omicron Pi has the following values:
|McCord, Mary MargaretMary Margaret McCord||
|2013 Miss USA first runner-up (representing state of Alabama)|
|Corsaut, AnetaAneta Corsaut||
|Actress best known for her role as Helen Crump in The Andy Griffith Show and the 1958 film The Blob.|||
|Crow, AshleyAshley Crow||
|Shallow, ParvatiParvati Shallow||Lambda Sigma||contestant on Survivor: Cook Islands, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, Winner of Survivor: Micronesia at the University of Georgia.|||
|Vassilieva, SofiaSofia Vassilieva||Alpha||actress: My Sister's Keeper (2009), Medium (2005), and The Wonderful World of Disney (1995)|||
|White, NatalieNatalie White||Sigma Omicron||Winner of Survivor: Samoa|||
|Paracha, NatashaNatasha Paracha||Sigma||Miss Pakistan World 2008|||
|Davis, AshleyAshley Davis||Zeta Pi||Miss Alabama 2010|||
|Layman, KatieKatie Layman||Epsilon Gamma||Miss Colorado 2009|||
|Southard, KatherineKatherine Southard||Epsilon Chi||Miss North Carolina 2009|||
|Jamie Lynn Macchia||Theta Pi||Miss New York 2015|||
|Byrn, AnneAnne Byrn||
|Author of "Cake Mix Doctor," books, University of Georgia|||
|Torre, JaniceJanice Torre||Pi||Songwriter, lyricist of song Paper Roses|||
|Bourke-White, MargaretMargaret Bourke-White||
|Photographer and journalist, joined Alpha Omicron Pi while at the University of Michigan. Her works were donated to Alpha Omicron Pi upon her death in 1971, and today are displayed at the international headquarters.|||
|Frayer, Janis MackeyJanis Mackey Frayer||
|Television journalist with CTV National News|||
|Goff, AngieAngie Goff||Gamma Alpha||News Anchor and Journalist for WRC-TV|||
|Mackin, CatherineCatherine Mackin||Pi Delta||Television personality, Two Time Broadcast Journalism Emmy Award Winner for NBC, ABC News (20/20). First Woman to broadcast from a National Convention Floor (1972). Also, First Woman to solely Anchor an Evening Network Newscast on a regular basis, NBC Nightly News.|||
|Dr. Melina Jampolis||Delta||Diet & Nutrition Author-The Calendar Diet, The Doctor on Demand Diet, etc. CNN Diet and Nutrition Medical Correspondent. Seen on Discovery Channel's The Fitness Doctor (Host) 2005. Also, seen on TV shows such as: The Doctors; Dr. Oz; Live with Kelly; Today Show.|||
|Chamberlin, WendyWendy Chamberlin||
|Former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan.|||
|Dawson, MaryMary Dawson||
|The current Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner of Canada. She was appointed by the minority Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper on July 9, 2007 as the Conflict of Interest Act came into force. Mary Dawson was made a Queen's Counsel in 1978 and was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 2007.|||
|Howorth, Lucy SomervilleLucy Somerville Howorth||Kappa||Lawyer, feminist, and politician known for her New Deal legislative efforts.|||
|Hughan, Jessie WallaceJessie Wallace Hughan||Alpha||Founder and first Secretary of the War Resisters League.|||
|Lubbers, TeresaTeresa Lubbers||Kappa Alpha||Indiana State Senator 1992—2009, current Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education.|||
|Dear, Nancy Winifred DiehlNancy Winifred Diehl Dear||
|American Quarter Horse Association's Hall of Fame Inductee and National Cowgirl Hall of Fame Inductee.|||
|Farhat, MercedesMercedes Farhat||
|2008 Olympic Swimmer. Second woman to swim for Libya in the Olympic Games.|||
|Kupets, CourtneyCourtney Kupets||
|Olympic and World Champion Gymnast at the University of Georgia.|||