EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a new series that the Eastern Progress is starting in order to showcase any clubs and organizations on campus for students to possibly join.
Gamma Theta Chapter of Chi Omega at Eastern Kentucky University is a part of the Greek life on campus, as one of the seven Panhellenic Sorority Chapters. The organization’s nickname is Chi O.
The Panhellenic community is a part of the Greek Life at Eastern Kentucky University.
The Panhellenic community consists of the seven nationally recognized organizations that are a part of the fraternity and sorority community at EKU.
According to the Panhellenic’s EKU page, joining a sorority provides young women with endless opportunities to excel scholastically, to participate in community service, to be involved in campus involvement, to grow as a leader and to form lasting friendships.
Chi Omega was founded in 1895 at the University of Arkansas. Chi Omega is the largest women's fraternal organization in the world with over 360,000 initiates, 181 collegiate chapters, and over 240 alumnae chapters.
Throughout Chi Omega's long and proud history, the fraternity has brought its members unequaled opportunities for personal growth and development.
Chi O was chartered at EKU 51 years ago on April 26, 1969.
Rebecca Baumann, president of Chi Omega stated that Chi O’s mission statement is that, “Chi Omega is an intergenerational women’s organization forever committed to our founding purposes: friendship, personal integrity, service to others, academic excellence and intellectual pursuits, community and campus involvement, and personal and career development.”
Baumann stated that, Chi Omega’s vision statement is that “Sisters are inspired by our values who serve the world while keeping Chi Omega ever at heart.”
Baumann continued explaining that Chi Omega’s purposes are “Friendship, High Standards of Personnel, Sincere Learning and Credible Scholarship, Participation in Campus Activities, Career Development, and Community Service.”
As a part of Greek Awards 2020, Chi Omega was awarded the EKU Panhellenic Outstanding Chapter of the year. Chi O sister, Sophia Peyton, was honored with the Kelly Harty Panhellenic Sisterhood Award. Further, Karen Benson, Chi Omega’s recruitment advisor, won the Outstanding Alumni Advisor Award. Additionally, as part of the National Convention, the Gamma Theta advisory board was recognized with the Outstanding Alumnae Advisory Board Award.
Baumann mentioned that the reason why she joined this organization was because, “Both my sister and dad were a part of Greek life and with my sister only being five years older than me, I got to see what Greek life and Chi Omega all were about. I saw the life-long friendships that could be created, and I am blessed to say that I have found those friendships. Since I have been placed into the role of president I have been forced out of my shell and comfort zone and allowed me to grow as a person and I owe it all to Chi Omega and the women that make up the Gamma Theta chapter that have put me here.”
Carly Beam, who rushed during the Fall 2019 semester said, “I chose Chi Omega because of the genuine relationships I began creating during recruitment. Ever since I have continued to build those friendships. Chi Omega is my home away from home and is a place I feel safe to be myself no matter what. I continue to choose Chi Omega because she continues to choose me. Chi Omega is a forever choice, not just for my four years at EKU.”
Chi O is made up of 96 women and there are engagement opportunities in one way or another for each of them.
Specifically, Chi O’s Executive Board is composed of nine women selected for leadership by the chapter. Chi O has an additional five leadership roles as a part of their Cardinal Cabinet, which are supported by committees and varying chair positions.
Baumann explained how Gamma Theta is important for students, “While a large aspect of sisterhood in Chi Omega is encompassed during our time as collegiate women, membership in Chi Omega is for a lifetime and the benefits of the same are innumerable.”
Baumann continued, “Aside from lasting friendships and emotional support, Chi Omega provides leadership training, career development programming and professional networking opportunities. Having Chi Omega, and other similar Greek organizations, on campus is important because it facilitates both personal and academic development in unique ways. It provides women a place for diversity of thought, meaningful growth, and frankly, some fun!”
Chi Omega partners with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Annually, Chi O hosts a Chili Cook-Off to raise funds to grant wishes for terminally ill children. This event involves both the campus and Richmond communities. Additionally, they host a wish week in both the fall and spring semesters to raise awareness and funds for the MAW Foundation.
To date, Gamma Theta has raised $380,021.61 for the MAW Foundation and they plan to keep that number growing.
Chi O has hosted numerous community service events over the years for the community. Chi O hosts an annual Dodgeball Tournament to raise funds and awareness for the American Cancer Society. This event largely involves the Greek Community but other RSO’s are welcome to participate. This event is a weekend-long tournament that is a fun way to show their support for an organization that addresses a disease that impacts us all.
In addition to these two events hosted by Chi Omega, they participate in varying events across campus and in the Richmond community. They have done donation drives for Hope’s Wings domestic violence shelter, celebrated Valentine’s Day at local nursing homes, participated in Jesus Prom and provided manpower at many other events across the community.
This semester, events will be hosted a little bit differently than previous semesters because of COVID-19. This pandemic has affected their organization in many ways.
Regarding housing, access to their floor is limited to only the women living there and their community space is currently closed.
Chi O is unable to host their weekly chapter meetings and new member meetings in-person. To date, nearly all their sisterhood events and other programming have been done virtually or in limited numbers pursuant to the campus restrictions in place for RSOs.
Now, Chi O is learning new ways to host their philanthropy events for the Make-A-Wish foundation as the events to be hosted in person were canceled.
Essentially, COVID-19 has impacted their organization as it has every other organization, Greek or not. They are doing their best to be creative, thoughtful, and celebrate what they can do as opposed to focus on what they cannot.
Mickayla Conner, who rushed during the Fall 2017 semester said, “Over the past three years I have witnessed what a real friendship is. These women have been my shoulder to cry on and they’ve nursed me back to health, both physically and emotionally. More than that, in Chi Omega they saw leadership qualities in me and because of that I’ve had the opportunity to plan amazing events for this campus and the surrounding community. In my three years of membership.”
Conner continued, “I’ve learned that the more you contribute to Chi Omega the more she will give you. Sisterhood in our Gamma Theta chapter has been shown to extend beyond college. I know that as a group of strong women we’ll get through these different times and cherish the memories we are still able to make.”
If interested in the Chi Omega chapter, this visit their website https://eku.chiomega.com/