By Chase Rheam
STILLWATER, Okla. —
A chapter of the nation’s first Native American sorority is celebrating 10 years at Oklahoma State University.
Alpha Pi Omega was established on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Sept. 1, 1994. Since that time, the sorority has expanded to colleges around the United States.
The Grand Dean of Honeycombs with Alpha Pi Omega Ashley Morris said the Gamma Chapter at Oklahoma State University was chartered in Nov. 2002.
“There were 14 members in that first class,” Morris said. “In the Spring, the chapter will be holding a process again and that will be the 10th process for the chapter.”
Morris said events commemorating the 10 years have occurred and are still planned. The group has held a stickball game and a birthday party for the chapter.
“We’re going to have a little dinner commemorating the Victory Voices, which is the first class,” she said.
Morris said a few members, some of whom still live in Stillwater, will be on hand for the ceremony beginning next year.
The group holds monthly chapter meetings, hosts stickball games and educate about the cultural aspect of the sport, and hold workshops such as their most recent, titled “My Culture is Not for Sale.” Morris said members also volunteer with the Humane Society and serve dinner at the annual OSU Pow Wow.
Shortly after the Gamma Chapter was chartered at OSU, the Delta Pi Chapter for Payne County was also chartered. The Gamma Chapter currently has two members while the Delta Pi Chapter, a graduate chapter, has eight members.
Grand Vice President Symphony Oxendine was responsible for bringing the sorority to OSU.
“I felt like at the time that I was a student there that we had organizations that supported Native students at Oklahoma State and they’re was a lot of division in the organizations and I wanted something that was going to bring together, no matter what tribe...” she said.
Oxendine said the first class of 14 women was “immensely successful especially considering the amount of Native students in higher education in the United States is less than one percent.”
“When you’re talking about 14 women on a campus that has around 1200 native students, that’s really successful given that not everyone want to be in a fraternity or sorority,” she said.
Oxendine said she wanted the sorority to be a support system socially, culturally and academically.
Personally, for Morris, she said the sorority served many purposes for herself.
“The Sorority motto is ‘My Sister As Myself,’” she said. “That's one of the things that drew my attention to the organization, before I was even a member. Sisters all across the nation take each into their homes if you need a place to stay, and no matter where you go, you're my sister. I think that really speaks volumes about the Sorority. We truly treat each other as we would like to be treated. We respect our traditions, and each other.”
Oxendine said the OSU staff were very supportive in helping them take the necessary steps to set up the Gamma and Delta Pi Chapters.
Ten years later, Oxendine said she still has goals for which she’d like to see the chapter strive.
“I want to see us to continue to be a part of the OSU community,” Oxendine said. “I think that my biggest vision for the chapter there is to remain in the community and remain relevant and continue to provide the support system that women need at OSU.”
For more information, go to www.alphapiomega.org.