Traditions & History
The Founding of Alpha Chi Omega
In the fall of 1885, Professor James Hamilton Howe of the School of Music at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana invited seven young women from the school for the purpose of forming a Greek society. While there were already Greek societies for collegiate women studying liberal arts in existence, there were none for women pursuing music. The fraternity for women (that would come to be known as Alpha Chi Omega) was officially founded on October 18, 1885 at DePauw by the seven women present at the initial meeting: Anna Allen, Bertha Deniston, Bessie Grooms, Amy DuBois, Olive Burnett, Nellie Gamble, and Estelle Leonard.
The golden Greek lyre was chosen as the symbol and badge of the new fraternity as it was the first instrument played on Mount Olympus by the gods, following with the founders’ dedication to music and the arts.
Our Colors and Flower
Our founders chose scarlet red and olive green as the fraternity’s colors in honor of its autumn founding. The red carnation was chosen as the fraternity’s flower in honor of the two colors.
Our Coat of Arms
The Alpha Chi Omega coat of arms is composed of a square shield, a crest, and a scroll. The scroll bears the Greek words of our open motto, Together Let Us Seek The Heights.
The Symphony of Alpha Chi Omega
Many of the values of Alpha Chi Omega can be found in our Symphony, written by Celia McClure of the Delta chapter at Allegheny College in 1914.
“To see beauty even in the common things of life,
To shed the light of love and friendship ‘round me;
To keep my life in tune with the world that I should make no discords in the harmony of life;
To strike on the lyre of the universe only the notes of joy, of happiness, of peace;
To appreciate every little service rendered;
To see and appreciate all that is noble in another, be her badge what it may;
And to let my lyre send forth the chords of love, unselfishness, sincerity.
This is to be my symphony.”
Founders’ Day. Every year Alpha Chi Omegas around the country gather to celebrate our fall founding.
Hera Day. In honor of our patron goddess, Hera, Alpha Chis perform service and acts of kindness on this day to honor the fraternity’s commitment to helping others.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Every October, Alpha Chis hold philanthropy events, perform service, and raise awareness for our philanthropy, Domestic Violence Awareness.
MacDowell Month. During MacDowell Month Alpha Chis celebrate our arts heritage by attending plays, concerts, and museums as well as engaging in creative projects.
This month is named in honor of our original philanthropy, the MacDowell Arts Colony, which was founded in 1907 by Marian MacDowell, an alum. Though it is no longer our official philanthropy, Alpha Chi Omega continues to support the Star Studio at the Colony, which was built in 1911 using funds raised by the fraternity. Works that have been created at the Colony have included Thorton Wilder’s Our Town, Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, and Pulitzer Prize-winning novels such as Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.
Alpha Chi Omega Today
Today, Alpha Chi Omega has over 130 collegiate chapters, 200 alumnae chapters, and 180,000 initiated members worldwide. You can read more about Alpha Chi Omega’s national fraternity on the national Alpha Chi Omega Website.
Kappa Nu Chapter
In 2006, Carnegie Mellon local sorority Zeta Psi Sigma was adopted by Alpha Chi Omega as the Kappa Nu chapter of the national fraternity. Kappa Nu received its charter on April 29, 2006. Since then, Alpha Chi Omega has continued to grow and solidify its presence on campus. When it became apparent that the chapter needed more space to accommodate its rising numbers, in August 2011 the chapter moved from the Margaret Morrison complex to the Greek quad on Carnegie Mellon’s campus.
Kappa Nu Traditions
- Every April 29, Kappa Nu gathers to celebrate our founding.
- Bigs and littles: Every new member is matched with an initiated member, who is her big. Big and little pairs are united during big-little reveal, which consists of the littles solving a puzzle to find their bigs. The week prior to big-little reveal is known as clues week, when the big leaves little gifts at the house every day for her little.
- Senior week: During the last week of spring classes, underclassmen leave notes for graduating sisters. On the last day, seniors “leave” gifts and Alpha Chi Omega memorabilia to underclassmen during the reading of Senior Wills.