ALPHA PHI OMEGA
DELTA OMEGA CHAPTER
University of Houston
This is our story...
The Delta Omega chapter of Alpha Phi Omega has the distinction of being the longest running national fraternity on the University of Houston campus. Our history began in 1946 with the founding of a local fraternity by the name of the Eagles. The founding group then petitioned the national office of Alpha Phi Omega for chapter status, and Delta Omega was born as the 120th chapter of APO. The formal chartering ceremonies were held on April 13, 1947, in the cafeteria of the Earl North Brick Company, with the Alpha Rho chapter at the University of Texas at Austin conducting the installation. The first Delta Omega president was John Pound.
Service to the Campus
Immediately upon our founding, the Delta Omega Chapter began playing an important role in campus activities. Some of the responsibilities we shouldered included sponsoring and information booth in the Recreation Building, ushering at all football games, publishing the Cougar Student Directory, officiating at election polls, arranging freshmen orientation, and sponsoring the "Ugly Man" contest, which raised funds for different campus causes.
Bonfire and Homecoming Dance
Coming early in our history was the building of the annual homecoming bonfire, which was built by APO for 49 years until 1998 when the Student Program Board took up the responsibility. For several years APO also sponsored the homecoming dance. This has since become the responsibility of the Student's Association.
One of our major activities during these early years was the participation in Frontier Fiesta. APO organized the "Dry Gulch Opry House," a silent movie theater, and then ushered in the tradition of sponsoring "Bayou Queen," a variety show characteristic of the showboat era. Alpha Phi Omega placed among the top shows for several years.
About that time APO became the official guardian of the University of Houston mascot, Shasta I. It was Alpha Phi Omega that raised funds to purchase Shasta and her cage for the university in the 1960s. The Cougar Guard, consisting of brother s APO, accompanied Shasta to all the football games, even those out of town. It was a responsibility we carried until the early 1970s.
In 1955 APO began sponsorship of the annual Greek Song Festival, which was for years one of the highlights of Greek Week.
Valentine's Day Dance
In 1965 another important school-wide project cam into being. The first annual Valentine's Day Dance was held in February of that year in the Rice Hotel. With this dance APO took over the responsibility of presenting Miss Houston and the Vanity Fair Beauties, which had formerly been presented at Koobary Hall, sponsored by the yearbook. At this dance the first Valentine's Sweetheart was presented. Bill Miller and Jerrold Pesz of Delta Omega were the chairmen for the dance, which was an annual event through 1969.
During the last second half of the 1960s APO was active in campus politics, with many members serving on the student senate. Richard Poston, the president of Delta Omega in the fall of 1967 and the spring of 1968, served as the president of the Student's Association for the 1968-1969 school year.
It was to our lasting pride that during our first year of existence we were chosen to receive the School Spirit Award as the organization that had done the most for the campus of the University of Houston. The award was won consecutively until 1959, and has been won frequently since then. Following the last Frontier Fiesta before it was restarted in 1993 the chapter suffered a brief period of decline. This was to be short-lived, however, as the chapter picked up many new projects to replace Frontier Fiesta.
Although Delta Omega averaged over 5,000 man hours of service to the campus it did not ignore its duty to serve the community and the nation. During these early years the chapter adopted many projects that became annual traditions, including the Thanksgiving Dinner project for St. Anthony's Home for the Aged, making Christmas baskets for families in need, and participating in the March of Dimes.
The Bathtub Pull
One of the most famous national service projects Delta Omega was involved in was the annual Heart Fund Bathtub Pull, organized to raise money for the American Heart Association. The first annual Bathtub Pull was arranged by Randall Schott and Kent Whitaker, but it was primarily the brainchild of Don Macleod, who organized the project on two weeks' notice in February of 1969. To raise money and gain publicity a bathtub was pulled from Houston to Austin via major college towns in East and Central Texas. This project was later adopted by other chapters in Texas, and it became the official sectional project, raising more than fifty thousand dollars for the American Heart Association during its existence.
The Eternal Flame
Delta Omega during the 1970s and 1980s
During the late 1970s Alpha Phi Omega and Delta Omega underwent many changes. Pressured by the "Title IX" of the Texas Education Act, and many chapters that wanted APO to open up its membership policies, the 1976 National Convention voted to allow women to become members. While many chapters flourished from this new policy, Delta Omega did not. Allowing women to pledge, along with other trends away from the traditional Greek values led to a decline in chapter membership until 1981. Since then several new projects came into existence, including St. Dominique's, MacGregor Park Clean-up, and the Ben Taub project. In 1989 Delta Omega helped charter the Alpha Gamma Zeta chapter at Houston Baptist University.
Delta Omega changed and grew considerably throughout the 1990s. Unfortunately, as of 1998, no longer does Alpha Phi Omega hold the distinction of being solely responsible for the University of Houston Homecoming Bonfire, although members work diligently to reclaim this honor. Members of Delta Omega do, however, continue to serve on important positions on the Homecoming committee. Delta Omega also continues to enthusiastically participate in Frontier Fiesta and is awarded almost every year. Another service that Delta Omega continued to provide for the University of Houston during the 1990s was the selling of programs at basketball and football games.