Among the pending fraternities and sororities going before the Inter-Greek Senate (IGS) and asking for recognition this spring are the Omega Kappas, a fraternity that faded away in 2006, but shares 100 years of history with Gustavus. Currently existing as an active but unofficial fraternity, the group consists of 25 members with more planning to pledge, should the Omega Kappas gain recognition.
The Omega Kappas, informally known as the “OKs” were first recognized in 1906 at Gustavus. Born out of the tradition of a literary society, the fraternity was previously known as the Olympian Council.
In 1956, the OKs contributed the Carillons in Christ Chapel. In 1975, they contributed the Prof George Scholarship Fund and in 1981, the rebuilding of Old Main’s bell tower. Notable members of the fraternity in Gustavus history include former President John Kendall; Don Roberts, hockey coach; Cec Eckhoff, the former Alumni Director; and former Pastor Paul Youngdah.
Toward the end of the 1990s, the OKs subsisted as one of the smaller fraternities on campus. At the end of the academic year in 2006, the OKs lost recognition when membership fell too low and did not meet the minimum requirements necessary to maintain an organization. The spirit of the OKs was revived last spring when several students on campus decided that the Gustavus community needed another fraternity to choose from to include those who felt the existing options were not a good fit.
“The idea behind our revival of the OKs is to retain some of the traditions and history but to find an even balance between academics and the social aspect. We want to be gentlemanly and quite open with our pledge process,” Sophomore Zach Blinkinsop said. “While the other existing fraternities on campus are great and do good work, not everyone fits in with them. We want to be a little different than the others in terms of goals and priorities in order to provide a different and unique option.”
“A number of alumni have had the opportunity to meet with these young men,” Bob Vukas ’77, an OK alumnus, said. “We have come away impressed with them as individuals and with their respect for the tradition and history of the Omega Kappa Fraternity at Gustavus Adolphus College. We are proud to have them continue those traditions.”
“I wanted to be an Omega Kappa member so that I could be a part of the Greek community, bring my perspective, experiences and passions to the group and hopefully use it as a vehicle to instill change on the campus, in the St. Peter community and beyond,” Junior Dillon Hall, a member of the OKs, said. “What I believe it means to be a member of the Omega Kappa Fraternity is to be a brother to my fellow members and peers, to support and serve the Greek and Gustavus communities and to be modest and humble in all areas of my life.”
Professor Sean Cobb, the OKs advisor, is very excited about the new up and coming fraternity.
“I am not someone who is normally really comfortable with fraternities and what they stand for, but this is the type of organization that I can get behind. I really like this group’s philosophy,” Cobb said. “The Gustavus Greek system is much different [from most colleges] in that the groups here coincide with the College’s mission.”
Cobb’s main concern is that the OKs never fall under the negative stereotypes surrounding fraternities and Greek life.
“The OKs really have the chance to stand out as what a fraternity can look like and exist as mature responsible men,” Cobb said.
“Right away when they asked me to be their adviser, I set some ground rules. I told them that they must accept homosexuals as members and they absolutely must not haze. I want these guys to exist in a way that does not promote partying and materialism as part of the fraternity cultures,” Cobb said.
As every fraternity or sorority must host a philanthropic project, the OKs intended philanthropy is Africa Jam, an organization started by a Gustavus student that teaches children music, dancing and reading after school in Cape Town, South Africa.
“Africa Jam is such an incredible program that supports boys and girls from Africa who are in need. We are really hoping to be able to contribute to their cause and to work hand in hand with them,” Hall said.
The decision of whether or not to recognize the OKs as an official fraternity was supposed to be made on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012 by the IGS; however, the vote was postponed until other presentations for pending sororities and fraternities were brought forth. To obtain recognition, at least five of the other sororities and fraternities must vote “yes.” A decision will be made in the upcoming few weeks, with no final date in place yet.
“If we do get rejected when IGS gets together to vote, then we will have to meet again and decide what to do. The options would include disbanding or staying unofficial until we can try again next year. Personally, I hope we do not just give up and that we do try again next year. We are already a strong group. We have a lot to offer to the Gustavus community,” Blinkinsop said.