The Order of Omega
is an undergraduate Greek society
Fraternities and sororities are fraternal social organizations for undergraduate students. In Latin, the term refers mainly to such organizations at colleges and universities in the United States, although it is also applied to analogous European groups also known as corporations...
recognizing "fraternity men and women who have attained a high standard of leadership in inter-fraternity activities." It functions as an adjunct to traditional fraternal organizations, rather than a social or professional group in se
. It is not an academic honor society
In the United States, an honor society is a rank organization that recognizes excellence among peers. Numerous societies recognize various fields and circumstances. The Order of the Arrow, for example, is the national honor society of the Boy Scouts of America...
; a minimum Grade Point Average is only one of six criteria for admission, and Order of Omega is not a part of the Association of College Honor Societies
The Association of College Honor Societies , founded in 1925, is a predominantly American organization that serves a number of functions with respect to national collegiate and post-graduate honor societies...
The Order of Omega was established in Fall 1959 at the University of Miami
The University of Miami is a private, non-sectarian university founded in 1925 with its main campus in Coral Gables, Florida, a medical campus in Miami city proper at Civic Center, and an oceanographic research facility on Virginia Key., the university currently enrolls 15,629 students in 12...
. It sought to differentiate itself from the long-standing Greek honors society of Phi Beta Kappa by emphasizing community service and inter-Greek communication over academic and nominal honors. At that time, the group adopted as its mark the Greek letter omega
Omega is the 24th and last letter of the Greek alphabet. In the Greek numeric system, it has a value of 800. The word literally means "great O" , as opposed to omicron, which means "little O"...
, in gold on an ivory field. The organization was unique to the University of Miami until, in 1967, a second charter was granted to begin a chapter at University of Southern Mississippi. The group remained exclusive to men until 1977.
In more recent years, the Order has emerged as a moot arena in which the Greek community can air progressive changes to its member organizations as a whole; the 'dry' movement eschewing alcohol
An alcoholic beverage is a drink containing ethanol, commonly known as alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are divided into three general classes: beers, wines, and spirits. They are legally consumed in most countries, and over 100 countries have laws regulating their production, sale, and consumption...
use among many groups drew a great deal of support from discussion in the early 1980s about how to improve the general reputation of the Greek community. The stated purposes of the organization are:
- To recognize those fraternity men and women who have attained a high standard of leadership in interfraternity activities, to encourage them to continue along this line, and to inspire others to strive for similar conspicuous attainment;
- To bring together outstanding fraternity men and women to create an organization which will help to mold the sentiment of the institution on questions of local and intercollegiate fraternity affairs.
- To bring together members of the faculty, alumni, and student members of the institution's fraternities and sororities on a basis of mutual interest, understanding and helpfulness;
- To help create an atmosphere where ideas and issues can be discussed openly across Greek lines and to help work out solutions.
At present, the Order maintains approximately three hundred chapters at colleges and universities in the United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...
Standards and operation
The executive board of the individual Order of Omega chapter is empowered to make decisions concerning the merit of an applicant and initiate them into the Order based upon the following criteria: character, scholarship, offices held in Greek organizations, service to the Greek community, and service to the university community as a whole. It requires upperclassman status (3rd or 4th year at most universities), full-time attendance as a student, and a GPA within the top 10% of the Greek community at the campus in question. Order of Omega represents the top 3% within the Greek community on each of its campuses.
Much of most chapters' typical operation consists of charitable fundraisers, and the selection of persons to receive scholarships endowed by alumni. Persons are only eligible to be initiated into the Order as regular members if they are undergraduates in accredited college
A college is an educational institution or a constituent part of an educational institution. Usage varies in English-speaking nations...
s and universities
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...
, but are considered members for life, and some continue to support their chapters financially. Faculty, staff, alumni, and others may be elected as honoris causa