By Garrett Wissel
Elm Staff Writer
After 80 years, Alpha Chi Omega is still going strong. The Beta Pi chapter of AXO celebrated their 80th anniversary this past weekend. In reality, AXO’s longevity here at Washington College is even more impressive, as they were technically founded in 1937, but due to scheduling conflicts their celebration was pushed back to this spring.
“Call it our 80th plus one, if you will,” junior President Abbey Connole said. “AXO, Beta Pi was officially founded in May of 1937. However, it existed as a local sorority named Kappa Gamma since 1927. At the time sororities weren’t allowed, so Kappa Gamma met in secrecy.”
Eventually, the Board of Visitors and Governors first recognized Kappa Gamma in 1931 before officially petitioning for AXO to join them. The sorority accepted, officially installing the chapter in Reid Hall on May 21, 1937, making AXO Beta Pi the oldest sorority at WC.
According to the sorority’s official page on WC’s website, AXO’s purpose is “to encourage the true spirit of sisterhood, to develop through personal effort a high moral and mental standard, and to advance the appreciation and practice of fine arts among its members.”
Jump ahead 80 years from its founding here at WC, and you’ll find the Beta Pi chapter’s current sisters living by that standard wholeheartedly.
“AXO’s open motto is ‘Together Let Us Seek The Heights.’ This is a motto we really live by,” said junior Iz Clemens, the chapter’s current vice president of Chapter Relations and Standards. “My sisters are always there for me no matter what. It’s an amazing feeling having such a strong support system, knowing that no matter what you’re going through, you never have to go through it alone.”
AXO is far more than a strong friend group; their numbers also include a diverse assortment of campus leaders.
“Each year, I watch our new members blossom in the chapter,” Connole said. “They branch out in friendships, leadership roles, and opportunities, and this growth continues through their lifelong memberships.”
The sisters of AXO also put an intense importance on their national philanthropy, domestic violence and sexual assault awareness and prevention.
“Something particularly unique to AXO and Beta Pi’s philanthropy is that the money we raise goes directly to our community, which is especially significant because domestic violence impacts every community,” Connole said.
Clemens said that domestic violence can be an issue that is difficult to talk about, but with events like the Casino Night and Walk a Mile, students are able to start a conversation.
Having such a momentous occasion as an 80th anniversary allows the current undergraduate sisters of AXO Beta Pi to put their membership in the sorority into perspective.
“Through sending invitations alone, we have received so much feedback from our alumnae about our 80th anniversary,” Connole said. “Our chapter has found great joy in reading some of the hilarious anecdotal emails from some of our oldest alumnae.”
This back and forth communication has given the sisters a great appreciation of what it means to be a member for life, and to share the same values with other women across generations.
“We all share the same values and can reminisce about similar memories. Sharing a bond so special with women you haven’t even met is indescribable,” Clemens said.