Founders In 1979, there were three people who wrote letters independent of each other to Alpha Phi Omega, which was located in Kansas City, Missouri at the time (not Independence, Missouri) to the Wall Tower Office Building. Besides myself, Gregory Spencer and another young man whose identity was never discovered because he never went to any of the meetings, were interested in forming a chapter of Alpha Phi Omega on the University of the Pacific campus in Stockton, California. Greg and Craig met each other from letters that were sent back to them from the national office and were able to set up a meeting in the lobby of Knoles Hall to try and gather enough people who might be interested to possibly establish an interest group. The very first meeting of people who were interested had about twenty-five people attend. They discussed the information that was sent from the national office to see if there was a desire to start Alpha Phi Omega at UOP. They were encouraged to start Alpha Phi Omega because it could be a co-ed service fraternity and had a good balance of people at the first meeting. About half of the people who attended the first meeting had the desire and dedication to charter Alpha Phi Omega and see it through.
General meetings were usually held in the conference room on the seventh floor in Burns Tower. During those meetings, the first officers were elected. Craig Tanner was elected as the petitioning group president. The first service project was set up and the petitioning members started to learn more about Alpha Phi Omega and their values and principles. The members went through something very similar to what pledges go through now in the current pledging process, but did not have a pledge class name because they were a petitioning group.
Petitioning The difference between chartering and pledging was that they had to establish the four-fold program of service and make sure that it could be continued after they became a chapter. It tookabout two years to prove to the section and the national membership committee that they were ready to become a chapter. During that time, some of the service projects included, waiting tables for the American Red Cross of Stockton fund-raising dinner benefit, counting laps by passing out popsicle sticks in the CROP Run Against Hunger (which was an organization to fight world hunger; it was a 24-hour marathon that the other fraternities and sororities took part in and set up a team with members who took turns running laps for 24-hours), distributing beverages at the CROP Run Against Hunger, running the elections for UOP homecoming king and queen, running the ASUOP elections, sponsoring blood drives as well as volunteering for them.
Within the two years they were petitioning, meetings would range from 25-30 people at one meeting and as low as three at the next. The Sectional Chair at that time was Lee Williams and he attended several meetings and helped them formulate their first set of bylaws. He provided moral support along with their Big Brother chapter, Iota Phi at UC Davis.
Chartering Before Beth Tom was a Regional Director, she was an active member in Iota Phi. She helped out a lot and was on the first chartering ceremony team. At the time they were trying to learn the toast song, the pledge manual only listed the lyrics to the song and said it was sung to the tune of "Alma Mater." They didn't know whose alma mater the tune was sung to so they called Beth Tom and Dave Emery at Iota Phi and confirmed that it was Cornell's Alma Mater. (Dave Emery used to be a National Program Director for Leadership Development and was also a Section Chair as well as a Regional Director from Iota Phi.)
Seeing that UOP has one of the largest music libraries in the country, they went to try and find the tune of Cornell's Alma Mater, but were unsuccessful. Craig immediately called Beth Tom, who was holding a fellowship event at her house, and had the group sing the toast song to Craig over the phone expecting him to remember the tune so that he could sing it back to the others at the next meeting. Beth suggested that if all else fails, the tune of "I've Been Working On The Railroad" could also be used. The first time they ever performed the Toast Song for anyone in public was at a homecoming parade. Because they still did not master the tune of the Toast Song, they were forced to sing it to the tune of "I've Been Working On The Railroad."
In the meantime, Lee Williams, the Section 4 Chair at the time had got in touch with all the other chapters in the section. One final requirement to become a chapter was to fill out an application and have it sent to the national office. The application also went out to all the other chapters in the section that they would be located in and each chapter would vote (although it is not necessarily binding).Their vote can influence the letter of recommendation that the Section Chair and the Regional Director are going to write, and also affects how the national membership committee votes on whether a charter should be granted or not. When the Section Chair discussed the possibility of a charter for UOP with the other chapters, he suggested that the next Section 4 Conference be held in Stockton on the UOP campus because it would be around the same time as when they would be ready to charter.
Section 4 Conference/Grilling Three months before the Section 4 Conference is to take place, all the UOP petitioning group members begin to panic because they have never attended much less hosted a Section Conference before. They were told to make room reservations and find a place for the chartering ceremony and the workshops would be taken care of by the chapter that was supposed to originally host it, so the UOP petitioning members agreed. They sent their application off to the national office and received a letter of reply in February 1981 which stated that they had been granted a charter and their chapter designation would be Alpha Alpha Xi because they were the 614th chapter ever to be chartered in Alpha Phi Omega (USA). In the letter, there was also a thank you note that thanked UOP for doing something that very few chapters failed to recognize that by establishing a chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, it was service in all four areas of service - fraternity, campus, community, as well as the nation.
On March 28, 1981, Section 4 came to UOP for their Spring Sectional Conference. The actual chartering ceremony took place in UOP's Pharmacy Rotunda. During grilling, they had 150 brothers asking questions. Those people included the Regional Director who was John Trunick at the time, the National Vice-President who was Earle M. Herbert at the time, representatives from every chapter in Section 4, and visiting brothers from the neighboring chapters in Sections 1 & 2. All 25 people, who comprised of 21 petitioning members and four advisers, passed grilling that day. Earle M. Herbert was the presiding president for the chartering ceremony. One of the tablecloths that Alpha Alpha Xi received that day was from their Big Brother chapter Iota Phi and is still used to this day. The first banquet was held in the Regent's Dining Room where Iota Phi introduced traditions such as "mugging." The original charter was presented that night, but contained many mistakes. At Alpha Alpha Xi's 10th Anniversary, corrections were made to the charter and presented to the chapter. The chapter then decided to present Craig Tanner with the original charter and currently hangs in his den.
Since Alpha Alpha Xi was a fairly new chapter, they decided not to issue any Distinguished Service Keys (DSK) within the first few years because everyone felt like they all did the same amount of work and equally deserved one. The first pledge class had three pledges.