The Installation of Omicron
The first issue of the Purple, Green, and Gold,, Lambda Chi Alpha's first exoteric national publication, featured the installation of Omicron Zeta, and was sometimes referred to as the “Omicron issue” or the “Cornell issue.” wrote this article describing the installation of Omicron Zeta. Murray D. Lincoln of Gamma Zeta, Massachusetts, the correspondent, later went on to found Nationwide Insurance and CARE.
The installation of the local fraternity, ISWZA, as the Omicron Zeta of Lambda Chi Alpha at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, took place at their chapter house on October 10 and 11. The ceremonies were well attended by the alumni of the local chapter and also by representatives from Penn. State, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University, and Massachusetts Agricultural College .
This being the first installation of a chapter under the revised ritual, it gave the old L.C.A. men and the ritual committee an excellent opportunity to see the new ritual in practice. And as was clearly shown at the time the revision was a great improvement on the old ritual, being a great credit to the work of Brothers Cole and Mason, instrumental in perfecting it .
Since Cornell University is one of the largest institutions of learning in the eastern part of the United States, it is particularly fitting that we should have a chapter established there as early as possible.
As a delegate from Gamma Zeta at the Massachusetts Agricultural College, I journeyed to Ithaca on October 10. The trip proved to be one of great interest since I had never before had the pleasure of seeing much of the state of New York in the daylight. Practically all of the state, from the flat level fields and pastures of the central portion to the hilly, rolling districts of the west and southwest, is very picturesque and interesting. Of especial interest on the route to Ithaca are the various lakes in the central portion of the state, while the ride from Auburn to Ithaca, which takes roughly one and one-half hours, along the very water line of Lake Cayuga on one side, and a splendid line of cliffs, rising to an elevation of from forty to seventy-five feet on the other, interspersed snow and then with deep gorges over which fall tiny streams of water, is one not easily to be forgotten.
The University itself like so many of our colleges is situated “on a hill,” overlooking a valley into which Lake Cayuga flows, and bounded on the further side by a gentle rising slope which is seen to be dotted with farms and hamlets. The building and campus are both massive and beautiful, combining to form an Alma Mater of which any college man may well be proud.
The chapter house, situated on one of the principal streets of the campus, to the westward of the university itself, is practically a new one, modern in construction and admirably suited to the needs of a fraternity. As is customary at Cornell, the men have their meals served in their own house, a practice which cannot but help to strengthen the fraternal bonds and fellowship of the members. Another excellent custom is observed, namely that before almost every meal one or more of the college songs is sung— which goes to show that even in fraternal surroundings loyalty to the college is not forgotten.
During my stay there of a little over two days, I was treated with much cordiality and respect, and gained a very favorable impression of this latest addition to the members of our fraternal circle. To me at least, the men seem to be earnest and conscientious workers both in the fraternity and in college life, taking an active part in many of the various sports, standing well in the eyes of their fellow classmates, and if I may use the expression, “making good” in every way.
With the best wishes of all the Zetas extended to them, we welcome Omicron Zeta into our midst, firmly believing that by so doing we are strengthening the workings and spreading the good name of “Old Lambda.”
The Fraternity Situation
Zeta Psi was the pioneer society at Cornell and from the first she has held her dignified, exclusive, generous and fair position so characteristic of the general fraternity. Chi Phi came next, but after a time withdrew and reappeared in 1888. Kappa Alpha, perhaps the most exclusive of all, was the third and then Alpha Delta Phi. Both of these organizations added much to the character of the system at Cornell and have shown unusual strength from the first. Phi Kappa Psi also came with the first year but was not thoroughly rooted and succumbed in 1876. Chi Psi and Delta Upsilon, the latter first as an anti-secret society but changed to a non-secret, were also numbered among those of the first year.
The second year from the Delta Kappa Epsilon and the Theta Delta Chi. Three years later Phi Delta Theta established a chapter which existed until 1875, when it was withdrawn and not replaced until ten years after.
In 1874 Alpha Sigma Chi was established and continued as such until 1879 when all the chapters of this fraternity were absorbed by Beta Theta Pi. The Cornell chapter became Beta Delta and has flourished as such since that time. Psi Upsilon came to Cornell in 1876 by absorbing a large part of the local chapter of Phi Kappa Psi, which extinguished the latter for a period of nine years, after which it has revived and has since maintained a good all around chapter.
In 1878, Delta Beta Phi was founded at Cornell and spread to give other institutions but in 1882 the entire society disbanded.
With the increase in size of the university has come an increase in the number of fraternities. Alpha Tau Omega was established in 1887, Phi Gamma Delta in 1888, Phi Sigma Kappa in 1889, Delta Tau Delta, Sigma Phi, Delta Chi, Sigma Chi in 1890, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Delta Phi 1891, Kappa Sigma in 1892, Alpha Zeta, Sigma Phi Epsion, Sigma Nu in 1901, Theta Xi, Theta Lambda Phi, Alpha Chi Rho in 1903, Phi Kappa Sigma, Sigma Phi Sgma in 1904, Kappa Psi, Ometa Tau Sigma in 1905, Alpha Psi, Alpha Sigma Phi in 1907, Zeta Beta Tau in 1908, Gamma Eta Gamma in 1909, Theta Chi in 1912, and Lambda Chi Alpha in 1913.
In addition to these Cornell has an unusually large number of local clubs. The most prominent of these are Skill 1901, Bandhu 1902, Zodiac 1904, Seal and Serpent 1905, Nayati 1907, Acacia 1908, Alpha Theta 1911, Eleusis and Caduceus 1912 .
As the alumni list of each chapter grow larger and more prosperous, the feeling of interest which every graduate member has for the undergradate led to the desire to erect permanent dwellings for all who came after them. At Cornell the feeling is very strong that until a chapter has a permanent home it can not be more than temporary in character. This principle was strongly shown by some of the best fraternities who refused to established chapters until a permanent lodge was secured. The windowless lodge with its air of mystery has never found favor at Cornell.
The relation which the fraternity system sustains to the whole student body is interesting, from the fact that it is tending toward an ideal, and because it has reached this ideal at Cornell to a greater degree than at almost any other institution. The sharp rivalry and class distinction between fraternity and non-fraternity men, too often found and a cause of condemning the system, does not exist at Cornell.
The system of rushing has been adjusted to a nicety and at present there is none of the confusion and expense and mistakes formerly attendant upon rushing freshmen.
In 1905 eight freshmen, who became acquainted through an escape in which they outwitted some sophomores, organized and founded as a social club the Iswza Fraternity. Until 1908, the club consisted of the eight original members, when they initiated some new men into the organization and bestowed upon them the full significance of the letters I.S.W.Z.A. and gave the the rites of the stone on the turtle back .
In 1911, the club became larger, and moved into a new house. In May, 1913, the organization was incorporated under the laws of the State of New York, and shortly after purchased the chapter house which it now occupies, in the center of the fraternity district at 614 Stewart Ave., within five minutes walk of the Quadrangle. At present the membership is thirty, seven of whom are seniors. Every course is now represented except Veterinary Medicine. Outside of the regular university work many of the men are engaged in other pursuits. We have men out for football and cross country, several of whom are on the training table.
Lambda Chi Alpha
On October eleventh and twelfth, nineteen hundred and thirteen, occurred the installation of Omicron Zeta chapter of ΛΧΑunder the most favorable auspices. Immediately following the "Crew Celebration" which took place on the Library Slope, but a stone's throw from the house, Brother Warren A. Cole gave the alumni who were present, the oath and ritual of ΛΧΑ. On the following day the entire bunch of forty-five attended the Cornell-Carlisle football game at Percy Field. That night immediately after the banquet, Brother Cole, with the aid of brothers from Amherst, Penn. State, and M.I.T. initiated and gave the ritual to four pledges in the most impressive manner, at the same time initiating us into the mysteries of ΛΧΑ. It was in the wee hours of Sunday morning before his work was completed.
It was with a feeling of regret that we saw our visitors leave for their respective homes the next day. May they come again. To you with whom we are yet to be acquainted, we extend a hearty invitation to visit Baby Omicron.
And so we make our debut in the Purple, Green and Gold and hope that our new relationship may further strengthen us and the rest of the fraternity in the fraternal bonds of ΛΧΑ.
- At the time, the membership of most chapters was quite small, complicating the issue of who would conduct the installation. Warren A. Cole led the degree team, which was assembled from volunteers from the closest existing chapters. Note also that Massachusetts Agricultural College is now the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. [back]
- Refinements to the modern (Mason) ritual, approved in March, continued over the summer; whether the first installation under this ritual was Pi Zeta at Worcester or Omicron at Cornell, or perhaps another, may be fairly disputed. [back]
- Ernst Fischer was invited to join Nayati, and the decision to organize I.S.W.Z.A. as a fraternity played a role in his decision not to accept that bid. Eleusis later accepted a charter from Theta Kappa Nu, which merged with Lambda Chi Alpha in 1939. Seal and Serpent was the only local to survive through the Great Depression. [back]
- There is no evidence one way or another to suggest I.S.W.Z.A. was organized as a fraternity, or ever known by that name, in the immediate aftermath of the “Famous Freshman Melee” of 1905. By the accepted account, the group did not become formalized until fall 1907, particularly after the celebrations following the Princeton game on October 26. Several documents, however, including the petition for a Lambda Chi Alpha charter, “backdate” the fraternity in this way, presumably to make it seem more established and distinguished of an organization. [back]