Service fraternity recharters on campus

Co-ed fraternity to engage in service projects around community, aims to double current membership in upcoming years

Alison Murtagh

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Service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega was officially re-charted at Washington and Lee University Sept. 27.

The fraternity was first charted on campus in the 1980’s but went under in 2008. There are currently 26 members, with more expected to join by the end of fall term.

Austin Frank, ’17, serves at the fraternity’s president. He began planning for the re-charter two years ago. Passionate about service, Frank said he was determined to bring Alpha Phi Omega back to the university’s campus.

“It takes a very long time. All of last year was focused on doing the different requirements,” Frank said. “We had to do a bunch of very specific types of service projects, with different numbers of people, different organizations.”

The final proposal was then sent to the fraternity’s national office.

“It then gets tossed around a bunch of different committees, and the board of directors and everything, and then we finally got approved in August of this year.” Frank said.

Elaina Prillaman, ’17, is a member of the fraternity as well. Prillaman said she joined Alpha Phi Omega because she genuinely cares about what’s happening in the community and around the world.

“Our fraternity is based around service and doing service projects for our community, and campus, and basically anywhere we can reach,” Prillaman said.

The four tenants of Alpha Phi Omega include campus, community, fraternity and nation. As a service fraternity, the members try to support all four values through various volunteering projects each month.

Projects the organization is involved with include working the concessions at football games, volunteering with the Rockbridge SPCA animal shelter and helping Habitat for Humanity.

“We have leadership positions because we are service-minded and we care about what happens on our campus, we care about what happens in our community and honestly we care about what happens in the world at large,” Prillaman said.

Students are able to be members of both Alpha Phi Omega and a sorority or fraternity since neither is mutually exclusive. The service fraternity has pledgeship twice a year. Students from all grades are encouraged to join.

“We call it ‘Alphaship’ though, because it is completely different than pledgeship,” Frank said.

The fraternity is expecting to add between 20 and 30 new members by the end of the school year. Frank said he hopes to see the fraternity grow to 60-70 members in the coming years.

“I think the potential is there; I think the interest is there,” Frank said. “It’s just getting people to commit and getting the word out to as many people as possible.”

Due to the national rules of Alpha Phi Omega, the service fraternity is not allowed to have a house on campus like other Greek Life organizations. So members meet weekly in the Outing Club room.

“It’s really a place for everyone and that’s one of the things that’s been most special for me,” Frank said. “Having a place where everyone can feel like they have a family and feel welcome and feel like they’re making a difference.”