A Brief History
The early days of the fraternity were not easy. Other student organizations, more like social clubs than real fraternities, were dominant. But the spirit of Omega was strong and within three years of our founding, three new chapters had been installed. Thus in an extremely short time, Omega had quickly grown from an unvoiced idea in the minds of Percy Edrop, Arthur Edrop and Walter Dohm, into a national organization of real promise. Continued planning towards this national goal led to the calling of Omega’s first national convention on May 15, 1903. It was at that meeting that a constitution and by-laws were adopted. On June 29, 1904 the second annual convention adopted our badge and coat of arms and a fourth chapter was authorized.
Succeeding years added to Omega’s strength and chapters were established in several additional states. By 1915, the fraternity had reached such a state of organization that formal incorporation became imperative and on April 1, 1916, the State of New York issued Omega a Certificate of Incorporation.
The entry of the U.S. into World War I put a great strain on our still-young fraternity. Still, despite the loss of several chapters and the loss of many brothers among the 600 called to serve, a successful reorganization was possible. Led by loyal alumni, Omega entered into an extremely progressive period of expansion.
The twenties proved to be a period of slow growth during which the fraternity matured into a strong organization. The thirties were prosperous enough to belie the Great Depression sweeping the country and, by the outbreak of World War II, the total enrollment stood at fifty-nine chapters.
More than 6,000 Omegamen served their country in this new war, many of whom made the supreme sacrifice. This, and the unsettled condition of the nation, led to severe curtailment of fraternal activities. However, recovery after the war was rapid. That Omega was able to survive this period at all was largely due to the determined and unyielding support of some of her most loyal and oldest alumni.
During the 1950’s we saw both the advent of a new and younger leadership for Omega and a general rise in the popularity of fraternities over all. This translated into the establishment of some 27 new chapters in less than 15 years and the development of new programs to support the membership.
During the late 1960’s and through the early 1970’s nationwide forces connected with the Vietnam War and the growing student protest movement began to decrease the popularity of fraternities both in high school and college By the mid 1970’s the pressure had grown so strong that virtually all of the other high school nationals had closed up shop. As early as the 1980’s and into the 1990’s high schools across the country were beginning to ban fraternity members from wearing colors on school property and a movement was underway to ban fraternities from schools altogether. Omega managed to limp through this period although it lost more than half of its active chapters.
As the new millennium progresses our long term direction has become increasingly promising. 2014 has brought a new direction to our fraternity. ‘A Fraternity for Men’ was approved by our membership to charter chapters as a mens organization. Chapters in Daytona Beach, Florida and Dallas, Texas were chartered in June and several more are in the works. We look forward to creating our new ‘Brotherhood’ as our fraternity begins a new period of growth.
With a chapter role of 111 and a total enrolled membership approaching 15,000 behind us, Omega has unquestionably earned a place among the countries most successful fraternal institutions. Our past successes have been built through the efforts of truly great men who have gone from school to successful careers in a multitude of occupations and who continue to encourage the fraternity they left behind.
Today and in the future our challenge is to maintain a membership whose quality is equal to the tasks that confront us and who are willing to make Omega a life long commitment. Omega’s strength – like that of the oak tree on our crest – is her endurance.