Our Chapter’s History
The Alpha Phi Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega was chartered at Washington University in St. Louis on May 1, 1936. It began with 38 members and represented the 45th chapter of Alpha Phi Omega. On October 10th, 1981 the chapter was rechartered with 25 members. At the time, APO was one of only two service organizations on campus. However, it was unique in that it encouraged social activities and leadership development alongside service.
Our chapter’s membership consistently fluctuates around 250-300 members each semester, making APO the largest student organization on Washington University’s campus. With such large student involvement, there arose a need for infrastructure within the chapter to support members’ desire for community and camaraderie. Originating from a time when our chapter’s membership was small enough to be divided into two teams (Team Blue and Team Gold), came the idea for Membership Families. Currently our chapter supports six Membership Families, named after fantastic families in pop culture. They are: The Bernstein Bears, The Flintstones, The Addams, The Super Smash Brothers, The Incredibles, and The Weasleys. These families play an integral part in the APO experience of members in our chapter. Each family has a family head and their own traditions; thus, the people and these shared experiences, help members develop an even deeper set of relationships within the chapter. What’s more, to honor and celebrate our chapter’s family system, our chapter has a tradition of holding an event called Family Wars. In this event all families battle it out to claim, not only, the title of ‘Family Wars Champions’, but also the Family Wars trophy.
You Rock Box
The “YOU ROCK BOX” is a chapter meeting tradition that usually generates excitement and laughter. As the name implies, the “YOU ROCK BOX” is a box that is passed around throughout the meeting. As the box interchanges hands, members may write kind notes, addressed to other members or to the chapter as a whole, to be stuffed into the box. At meeting’s end, the notes are pulled out one at a time and read aloud so that the entire chapter can hear why particular members “ROCK” for that meeting or week.
Rocky Juniors and Warm Fuzzies
Encouragement and recognition is vital in promoting brotherhood. Thus, our chapter began the traditions of Rocky Juniors and Warm Fuzzies. A Rocky Junior (a decorated rock) is given to a nominated member who has, for any given week, truly exemplified the APO ideals of fellowship, leadership, and service. A Warm Fuzzy (a decorated pom-pom) is given to a nominated member who has, for any given week, dealt with any particular difficulty, whether in their academic coursework or in their personal life. In short, both of these small tokens are given to members in order to remind them of the huge network of members who value and support them.
Semiformal and Formal
Each semester our chapter holds a social event in celebration of our members. Each fall semester a Semiformal event is held, and each spring semester a Formal event is held. At these events members have the opportunity to eat, dance, and just simply hang out.
Every semester several members are awarded Golden Sashes. Thought of as beacons of light – these members embody the principles of leadership, friendship and service in their day-to-day lives and have throughout their tenure in Alpha Phi Omega. The Golden Sashes are meant to inspire the rest of the chapter by example and foster brotherhood through friendships. The Alpha Phi Sashes are meant to dedicate themselves to the maintenance and betterment of the chapter through the individual relationships the Golden Sashes build with other members. There is no one good model of a member, and as such, many are chosen to represent the diverse ways one can embody the three cardinal principles. The award is presented to those who have already begun to fulfill these goals, and the Golden Sashes hope their induction into the Sashes will strengthen the efforts of the chapter.
Their history comes from a group called the “Silver Spiriters” at Alpha Rho chapter, who in 1960 “rose up and rejuvenated the chapter” at a time when the chapter was waning. The Golden Sashes were created by a Silver Spiriter, Eddie Mackie, in 1977 at Epsilon chapter. As the Section 49 chair at the time, Mackie chose Gold because it was Epsilon’s 50th anniversary. A recipient of the Golden Sash described the award as such: “It wasn’t about popularity or who you knew, the Gold Sash was about your ability to be a total brother in leadership, friendship and service. It represented recognition of service to the fraternity above offices, politics or popularity.” The Golden Sash was brought to Alpha Phi chapter by Jim Roach during his term as Section 49 chair between 2002-2004.