800 Years of Brotherhood in One Room

Teri Forsythe, Alpha Omicron Pi
Development and Communications Coordinator

This week is Chi Psi Founders’ Day, and though I am not a Brother of Chi Psi, rather a sister of Alpha Omicron Pi, I  do have a great appreciation for the Founders’ Day celebration and what it means for this organization.

Greek life is an incredibly special thing, these organizations that have lasted for so long on shared values and tradition. No matter how different one generation is from the one before or the one after, fraternities and sororities provide friendships and experiences that never seem to fade. On this Chi Psi Founders’ Day, Chi Psi will be 171 years old.

One hundred and seventy-one years. That is quite an accomplishment. Chi Psi has Alphas that have been consistently active since before my own organization was founded in 1897. Eight Alphas to be exact: Phi at Hamilton, Epsilon at Michigan, Psi at Cornell, Nu at Minnesota, Iota at Wisconsin, Xi at Stevens, Beta Delta at Lehigh and Delta Delta at Cal all have longer consecutive histories than AOII, an organization with more than 100 chapters across the United States and Canada. That’s amazing to me.

There is something about Chi Psi that has made it a relevant and vital part of the undergraduate experience on each of your campuses for nearly two centuries, and I think in my nearly two years on staff at the Chi Psi Central Office I’ve been able to see just exactly what that is. The men that I’ve met through Chi Psi all share a deep respect, appreciation for and devotion to Chi Psi.

I recently got to see this first-hand when I attended an alumni event in Naples, Florida. In March, the newest Trustee, Verne Istock, E ’62, hosted the trustees of The Chi Psi Educational Trust and Southwest Florida alumni at his beautiful Naples home, and it was among the most powerful displays of Brotherhood (or sisterhood for that matter) I’ve ever been a part of. Throughout cocktails and dinner there was plenty of socializing among the nearly thirty alumni and their wives in attendance, but the best part came after dinner.

We all gathered together to sing Chi Psi songs (a unifying tradition I first got to experience at last year’s Convention but still leaves me amazed) and share a few words about his or her Chi Psi experience with the group. One by one each guest talked about why he or she was thankful for Chi Psi. The Brothers, ranging in class years from ’97 to 1946, all shared how Chi Psi had brought them their greatest friends in the world, men who they’d been through years of highs and lows with. The women spoke about how Chi Psi had given them their husbands and families they’ve remained close with since college. Everyone agreed that Chi Psi had helped shape these men into the accomplished gentlemen they are today. In that room was more than 800 collective years of Chi Psi Brotherhood, and that is a powerful thing.

In AOII, we call experiences like that our “Aha moments,” and from my own initiation to exhausting but uplifting recruitment parties to my work with installing a 98-woman chapter as an AOII staff member, I’ve had my fair share of AOII “Aha moments.” I’ve always felt like in those moments I can feel our AOII founders looking down with pride on the organization they worked so hard to create.

One of my AOII “Aha moments” – Watching AOII International President Barb Zipperian initiate 98 women and install the Beta Zeta Chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi

The Naples event was my Chi Psi “Aha moment.” The moment I witnessed first-hand exactly what makes Chi Psi so special and bonds men of all ages across the country together in Brotherhood, a moment I know Chi Psi’s founders would be proud to see. I can only hope I get to experience many of Chi Psi “Aha moments” in the future.

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