September 14, 2004

Alpha Phi Omega Serves Campus

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Although no fraternity rush process requires giving up a pint of blood, Alpha Phi Omega gladly accepted them as donations during its blood drive last Tuesday. Held with the aid of the American Red Cross, the blood drive is one example of the service opportunities that APO offers.

Alpha Phi Omega is a national community service fraternity, committed to volunteering throughout Cornell and the surrounding area, and dedicated to fulfilling their motto of “leadership, friendship and service.” Alumni of APO include former Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Though Alpha Phi Omega is referred to as a fraternity, it is a co-ed organization. According to Alexander Wolf ’06, APO’s designated historian, “women were admitted to the fraternity nationally in 1976, but as Cornell is always ahead of the times; [the] Gamma [chapter] had been co-ed for some years before that.”

The Gamma Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega has been the sponsor of numerous volunteer opportunities since its inception at Cornell in February 1927. They frequently volunteer at the ScienCenter, helping to orchestrate an annual egg drop. One of their larger events is the Maple Sugaring Festival, which is held each spring at the Cayuga Nature Center.

“APO volunteers run different educational stations as throngs of Ithaca schoolchildren come through with their parents,” Wolf said.

One of their most successful events was the safety fair, which was held this past April. The Ithaca Police Department, New York State Police, members of the Cornell EMS, veterinarians, various other public safety experts and volunteers came to provide demonstrations on how best to protect oneself.

“Even the Meteorology Club came to the fair to show people some weather safety,” said Wenni Lee ’05, new member coordinator of APO.

Due to the safety fair’s success, APO plans to hold another one this coming year.

“The Safety Fair was great. The volunteer turnout, both from our chapter and from other organizations, was fantastic,” Wolf said. “We’re hoping that it can be an even bigger success this year.”

APO also hosts many fellowship activities, such as movie-watching sessions and ice-skating trips. The fraternity has a big-little system — essentially a mentorship program in which a new member is secretly assigned a “big,” and the “big” gives gifts to the “little” as part of the initiation process.

“I’m dedicated to APO because of its commitment to serving the community and because of the value it places on leadership and friendship,” said APO President Kelly Cosman ’05. “I love being part of APO because of the rewarding relationships that I’ve formed with other members and because I enjoy being active in the community.”

APO holds pledge meetings once a week that are mandatory for members and for potential members. Every other Sunday, APO invites a speaker to the Straight to lecture on opportunities for service in the community.

It is “easy to get a leadership position,” Lee said, noting that several of its current officers received leadership roles in the fraternity one or two semesters after pledging their membership.

Once they have pledged, members must complete ten hours of service every semester, as well as attend five fellowship activities. Members are also required to join at least one of APO’s committees, such as their pledge committee, which plans the pledging process.

Archived article by Julie Geng
Sun Contributor