Renovation, Reopening and Recruitment
The Omega House Corporation Board hopes this finds you and your families safe and healthy. A lot has happened in the past several months – on so many fronts. In Austin, we took advantage of the time the House was vacant to renovate the bedrooms and upstairs hallways. We formed a task force that spent a good part of the summer developing new protocols to institute once the House was reopened. And in the spirit of our “new normal,” this year’s Recruitment was all virtual!
Omega Chapter remains strong, with 67 new members this fall. In addition, the Chapter recently received the International Partner in Philanthropy Award from the Alpha Phi Foundation. Omega was the second highest overall collegiate donor for the biennium – having raised nearly $120,000 for the Foundation during 2018 – 2020. They also received the Excellence in Philanthropy Award as the top donor of the South Quadrant for Alpha Phi. Way to go girls!
by Karen McComb Farabee, Capital Campaign Co-Chair
Thanks to all the sisters who donated to the Capital Campaign so far in 2020, the renovation of the bedrooms is complete! Campaign donations gave us just a bit more than $500,000 in hand and the total cost of the bedroom project was about $400,000. The original campaign projection of approximately $700,000 to complete the bedroom work included new modular furniture. But, due to the COVID-19 uncertainty, the existing bedroom furniture is being re-used for now, saving the projected furniture cost of approximately $300,000. Big thank you’s go to our donor sisters because we literally couldn’t have tackled this much-needed and long overdue change without their support!
The pictures below show all the changes to the bedroom lighting, fixtures, paint and flooring. Those old sliding closet doors that have been in place since the 1950’s? Gone and replaced with new doors that swing open. The hallways and stairway landings also got an upgrade. Keep reading below the pics for what we’re planning next!
If you want a sneak peek (hint, hint, what happens to the courtyard wall?), visit the campaign page HERE. Please be on the lookout for more information on the campaign in September and plan to join your sisters who have already donated so we can end our Centennial year with fresh looks for the bedrooms AND the exterior!
For now, we will leave you with just a few more pics of the new rooms decorated by some of Omega’s creative house girls!
by Renee Nichols Tucei, Omega HCB President
Less than a week after the renovation work was completed, girls started moving back into the House. During that week we experienced what seems to be our inevitable pre-move-in drama: our chef resigned, two of the air conditioning units went out, the refrigerator suddenly stopped refrigerating, the basement flooded – and that was all just on Tuesday. But seriously, somehow it all worked out in time to welcome 47 girls back to the House and their updated rooms.
The House is generally following UT protocols and guidance provided by Alpha Phi International in making the House safe and secure during this pandemic. The “new normal” includes mask requirements in the downstairs common areas, no non-resident members allowed in the House, dining room tables spread out into the Big Room, meals served in disposable containers vs. buffet style and ensuring the bedrooms & bathrooms reflect social distancing guidelines wherever possible. House cleaning processes are more frequent, hand sanitizer is available wherever you look, and disinfectant spray is in abundant supply.
The safety of our House members and staff remains our primary objective. Processes and protocols will continue to evolve as needed. The House will close for Winter Break just before Thanksgiving in line with the University’s schedule.
by Brit Sauer, Omega Chapter Advisor
The first round of recruitment, which would typically be open house, was “conversation free.” Each potential new member was encouraged to submit a “Me-In-3” video. This is a 3-minute video where they introduced themselves and then answered a couple of prompted questions. The Chapter also produced a video that was watched by each potential new member on day one of recruitment.
The second round was Philanthropy, where the members were able to share about the Alpha Phi Foundation, some of their annual philanthropy events, and what makes their hearts beat. As mentioned in the opening section of the newsletter, the Omega Chapter is beyond excited to announce that we were the second highest overall collegiate donor for the biennium – having raised nearly $120,000 for the Foundation during 2018 – 2020. We want to say thank you to each and every one of you who have donated to our philanthropy events and directly to the Foundation. We are extremely proud of this sisterhood and the ability to support one another as well as the research and education related to heart health.
The third round of recruitment was sisterhood, which changed from skit night several years back. For sisterhood the girls shared stories of how they found their home in Alpha Phi and the relationships they have built. This was done by telling stories, sharing a video, and breaking out into small groups to chat with the potential new members about what they were looking for in a sisterhood. This round is where we really shine, as we get to show our personality.
The last round was still preference ‘night’ but took place during the daytime. This was our opportunity to share a ceremony with the potential new members and really dive into those deep conversations about making a hard but exciting decision. The actives shared some of their most memorable moments in Alpha Phi and then showed a fun video they produced to once again highlight our personality.
All of the hard work paid off for Omega, as we welcomed 67 new members to our sisterhood, matching quota once again! The new members received their bids via email and then celebrated with a virtual Bid Day celebration. The new member team and exec delivered Bid Day boxes to each new member in a car parade and then the girls joined a virtual sleepover to get to know one another. I am so very proud of the members for their hard work. Many thanks go to Evan Guthrie Jones, Recruitment Advisor, for her time, experience, guidance, and passion to continue the legacy at 2005 University Avenue.
Many of you may have seen this July 30th post on our Alpha Phi – Omega Chapter Facebook page. For those of you who are not on social media, or maybe who just missed it, we thought it was important enough to reprint so that you are aware of how the UT Greek Community, and specifically the Omega Chapter, are addressing this critical issue.
I want to apologize for not reaching out sooner regarding the conversation around racial equity and inclusion. During this difficult time, I think we often wait for the right thing to say. These conversations and questions are hard, and there is not going to be a message that is signed, sealed and ready to be delivered. As an organization we will constantly be growing and evolving to listen, learn and be advocates in our community.
While all of our experiences in the Greek community have been different, I think we can all agree that there is room for growth. The Panhellenic community has been working for the last couple of years to ensure that the fraternities and sororities on the University of Texas campus are diverse and inclusive. I want to highlight a few things that have been implemented.
- The creation of a Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) on the University Panhellenic Council (UPC) who oversees the D&I committee, hosts regular educational workshops for the community, shares events and opportunities for growth, collects data on demographic info, and ensures practices (such as recruitment) are diverse and inclusive.
- The formation and release of a statement by the entire UPC community recognizing the barriers and societal stigmas related to race in the Panhellenic community. This Diversity and Inclusion statement outlined a commitment to combating these national issues within our own community.
- Pulling back the curtain and being more transparent to potential new members, specifically related to finances. By being more transparent with the financial obligation of joining a sorority, Panhellenic is creating a more open line of communication.
- Discussing the barrier of recommendation letters. At this time, women are not required to have letters of recommendation, however it is highly encouraged. Panhellenic has opened the discussion on how chapters receive letters of recommendation and how women can obtain letters of recommendation, as well as the need for them at all.
Personally, I am encouraged by the women in our Greek community. They recognize the need for change and they are determined to make it happen. I think it is important to note that the leaders within our chapter and the other houses on campus started this conversation about 3 years ago. Their concern and desire to create an inclusive community was not sparked by national pressure, but instead by their own experiences.
I want to say thank you for those of you who have asked hard questions, been vulnerable in discussions and shared your personal stories, as well as those of you holding the chapter accountable. We are open to any suggestions or comments you may have that might encourage the breaking down of barriers and the growth of our members.
Brit Sauer – Chapter Advisor
Please stay safe and take good care during these trying times. Look for our next newsletter in late November.
In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to us at UTAlphaPhiHCB@gmail.com with any comments or questions. Stay connected with your alum sisters through Facebook and Instagram via the links below. To see some of your wonderful sisters in the Chapter now, follow the Chapter account on Instagram HERE and Facebook HERE.
And be sure to check out our updated Omega alumnae website at: https://texasalphaphialum.com/. As always, thank you for your continued support of our Chapter!