I recently accepted an invitation from my fraternity to come back and give some remarks during his years alumni formal. Here’s what I said:
“Thanks for inviting me to be a part of Gamma Phi Day. You know, if you had told me in 1992, that 17 years later there’d be an annual celebration like this, I’d say you were lying. But here we are and I’m very happy and very proud to be a part of this.
It’s a special thing, to be known as a brother of Alpha Phi Omega. you don’t realize it at the time, but as you move on from here, it becomes very clear. Most of the people in my industry (I’m a lobbyist in Lansing for those who don’t know), have some form of community service in their backgrounds, but those who are brothers of Alpha Phi Omega, seem to be the true leaders. I’ll give you Presidents Clinton and Obama as examples.
I suggest to you that our brothers are leaders because of our cardinal principles and our service program. There are other organizations that will say similar things and give it their best efforts. Rotary talks about service to others and a three fold test. The Jaycees talk and give service to humanity … but if you really think about it, we have it the best. ‘Leadership, Friendship, Service bound together in a single tie.’
Admittedly, I didn’t get it at first. A number of you have asked how did we, the folks who recharted Gamma Phi on our campus, how did we do it? I suppose I should share that story with you. In was the third week of September in 1992, just before homecoming. My friend Rob Macy and I were walking back from a rush event at the Sig Ep house and we had stopped at the 7-Eleven on the corner of Howard and West Michigan – mainly because he wanted a Slurpee and I was craving cheddar and sour cream Ruffles potato chips.
At any rate, as we left the 7-Eleven, we started joking about our experience and at some point in the conversation one of us said, “We should make our own fraternity!”
I also remember Rob saying “Yeah, and we should make it co-ed too so that we can get the honeys there!”
Well, I was the Political Science major between the two of us, so of course I went to work right away in writing a constitution that same night. I wrote it in Room 121 of Bigelow Hall and pitched the idea to a number of folks. Before you knew it, there were 25 of us who were ready to start this journey. It started out as CO-ED(or GO-ED), and then it became Alpha Phi Omega once Maggie Katz and Glenda Ray found us.
You know, there are those among us who will tell you that Change started in our country in November, 2008. I think it started well before then. It started in 1992 for me, and for all of us who call ourselves Alpha Phi Omega brothers, it started on a December night in Easton, PA in 1925.
It takes a lot of energy to start a movement. A little flick of a finger can move a marble. A quick upwards movement of your arm can shoot a basketball. Get a couple of friends together and you can move a car. But to really get a movement going, to really get Alpha Phi Omega going, it takes a lot of people to do that. This weekend, we’ll activate four new people and add them to our movement. My good friend Diether Haenicke knew that what we had was special when he said to me in 1997,“David, this APO thing that you do … it is really a good thing for our campus because you are showing the world what Western is made of. Thank you”
Congratulations to those of you who are joining our movement. You are becoming very distinguished people.
Let me leave you with this though: a joke between two friends at the intersection of Howard Street and West Michigan Avenue has turned into a great tradition. Never doubt where your wildest dreams can take you.
Mine started on on that corner, developed further in Bigelow Hall, has brought you all into my life 17 years later – bound in a single tie called Alpha Phi Omega. Thank you all for helping make my life something that is making a difference.
May God Bless you all, my brothers of Alpha Phi Omega.”