National History

In 1953, a group of men in the Zeta Kappa Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity, decided they needed another organization to help them with projects on campus and in the city of Bowling Green, Ohio. These men met with the deans of the various departments of the university to decide whether there should be another service fraternity at Bowling Green State University. A meeting was held to see if any interest existed, and many women attended. Realizing a change was needed for more varied projects, plans were made to organize a women's service sorority.

 

Since the objectives of the two organizations were to be the same — service, leadership and friendship — a similar name was chosen: Omega Phi Alpha. Membership was open to university women who had been Girl Scouts or Camp Fire Girls. This rule changed in 1958.

 

At first, many people were interested in the sorority's activities. In 1958, Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti wrote to Bowling Green State University about how to form an Omega Phi Alpha chapter. The material was sent to Michigan, and that group held its first meeting on April 22, 1958 at 4 p.m. in McKenny Hall on the EMU campus. The women of Eastern Michigan's new Omega Phi Alpha chapter conducted several service and fundraising activities. They took their first pledge class the following fall.

 

Communication began between the two groups about the possibility of becoming a national organization, but the concept did not fully materialize.

 

In late 1962, a group of women at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut communicated with the group in Ypsilanti about becoming an Omega Phi Alpha chapter. The Bridgeport and Ypsilanti groups continued communication, with the women in Ypsilanti acting as big sisters to the women in Bridgeport for an induction ceremony. The new group was designated Beta Chapter of Omega Phi Alpha. The Ypsilanti group called itself Alpha Chapter.

 

At Bowling Green, a lack of common ground in the requested projects and background of the members led to a great decline in the chapter. But in September 1964, a few remaining members, Carole Close, Bonnie Widder, Maureen Weldon, Joan DeMuth, and others decided there was still a need for Omega Phi Alpha at Bowling Green State University. They met with Dr. Jacqueline E. Timm, the original adviser, to see what could be done to reorganize. In order to obtain active membership, they decided to pledge any interested women in good standing with the university.

 

The response was tremendous. The fall 1964 pledge class had 105 women. Sixty-seven gained active status. Officers from the prior group remained in office to give the new members an opportunity to become acquainted with the organization.

 

In spring 1966, Bowling Green State University's dean of women, Fayette Paleness, notified the chapter that a letter was received from the Omega Phi Alpha chapter at Ypsilanti. The letter said the Michigan chapter had combined with the Connecticut chapter and were now a national sorority. They wanted Bowling Green to affiliate with them. Bowling Green's chapter president, Pam Gabalac, immediately contacted the chapter's legal advisor and discovered that the chapters in Ypsilanti and Bridgeport were not legally registered as a national sorority. As a result, Omega Phi Alpha in Bowling Green registered its information first. Bowling Green asked the other chapters to affiliate.

 

Thirteen months of hard work and organization began. A national organizing convention was scheduled at Bowling Green in June 1967. At the convention, the three groups discussed ideas and agreed to the compromises that led to the formation of Omega Phi Alpha National Service Sorority. They decided that the Bowling Green group would be Alpha Chapter, since it had been in existence the longest and had first filed the proper papers to register the Omega Phi Alpha name nationally. Bridgeport retained the name of Beta Chapter, and Ypsilanti became Gamma Chapter.

 

The consolidation of the three groups was finalized on June 15, 1967, and the dream of many years became a reality.