First Decade of Omega Chapter

by George W. Chapman '20 
As written for the March 1933 The Rattle - Vol. XXI, No. 6

It is a more or less difficult matter to write a history covering the period of the first ten years of Omega Chapter from 1919 to 1929, when the records show that during this period of time nothing of great importance transpired.

The decade started off with the biggest event in the Chapter’s history, the installation of Omega Chapter and closed with the start of a project that meant the fulfillment of long cherished hopes, the start of Omega’s new home.

In between these two events is just the every day story of an active chapter of a college fraternity whose members were taking part to the fullest in college affairs and college activities.

In May 1919 Omega had its first contact with the fraternity at large when a committee consisting of George W. Chapman '20, Clifford E. Beaven '21 and Fuchs helped in the installation of Alpha Beta at the University of Pittsburgh.

In October 1919 Omega was admitted to the Inter-Fraternity Council at Penn State.

During this entire period the thought foremost in the minds of all our members was a new house. The minutes are full of discussion on this and various ways and means for building and financing the new house were discussed and passed. One of the first of these was the so-called ”5-10 Plan.” This provided that all members upon initiation sign five notes for ten dollars each payable one per year for the first five years after graduation, the money to go towards the house fund. This plan was in force two or three years and was fair success. Its weak point lay in the fact that it was almost impossible to collect on these notes and many Alumni never made payments.

In 1926 the Building and Loan proposition was brought up as a means to secure money for the new house and all active members were accessed a certain amount per month. This continued for a number of years and the equity in the Building and Loan turned over to the Alumni when the House was actually started. This equity amounted to $2,778.00 and was a big help in the financing of the House.

On various occasions when the possibilities of building a new house looked discouraging, steps were taken to rent various houses suitable for use but all of these plans fell through, many for financial reasons. Consideration was also given at times to the purchase of various fraternity houses, but lack of finances made this impossible.

Late in the spring of 1929 the House at 251 S. Allen Street, which had been the home of the chapter since November 1915, was sold to a local fraternity. This made it necessary for the Alumni group to proceed immediately with construction of the new house. Fortunately both the building and financial plans were all worked out, although the intention had been not to start the house until 1930.

Thus the end of the first decade saw Omega out of their old home and with a new home under construction.

During these ten years there are many things, which should be mentioned.

June 1920 saw the first issue of the “Omegaphone”, the Chapter publication which is published there of four times a year and distributed to the Alumni of Omega and to the other chapters in Theta Chi. The credit for originally naming the publication goes to Walter B. Shaw '21, 1921. The first issue was a four-page affair, letterhead size, printed in newspaper style. Subsequent issues have come out in various forms, some printed in booklet form with a cover, others being mimeographed and clipped together. As the years have passed the Omegaphone has improved and is now considered one the foremost chapter publications in the fraternity.

In 1925 the Christmas tree custom was started, and each year just before the Christmas holiday, a Christmas party is held in the Chapter House at which all members have a “big” time, usually being entertained by the freshman. A Christmas tree with gifts is one the important features.

A cup for the best all around man in the chapter was provided in October 1927. This man is selected yearly by popular vote and his name inscribed on the cup, which remains in the possession of the chapter.

In February 1929, the chapter decided to abolish the so-called “Hell Week” which had been a part of the initiation proceedings of most fraternities. This was a big step in the right direction and it is worthy to note that Theta Chi was a leader in the movement, which since had wide acceptance.

During this ten-year period the Chapter has been on the upward grade in regard to scholarship standing. In June 1929 the chapter was second highest of all fraternities in scholarship rating, first place being held by a professional fraternity.

Omega Chapter has been well represented in Campus affairs and in college activities. Members have been on all the publications in dramatics and in athletics a have held membership in many honorary fraternities.

Appreciative credit is due Omega’s Faculty Advisors, Russell B. Hesbitt served faithfully and well during most of this period and Francis J. Doan '19 carried on from the time the Brother Hesbitt was forced to resign because of ill health.

Both Mother’s Clubs and Dad’s Clubs have been organized and are taking active interest in the affairs of the Chapter. Alumni meetings are held at the Chapter House on Mother’s Day and Dad’s Day.

In closing this story of the first ten years of Omega Chapter we cannot do so without giving to the entire to the entire group of members during this period for their persistent perseverance towards the goal of a new house. Certainly it is largely because of their interest and efforts that the Alumni were forced to take action and make the new house a reality.