WSU Greek chapter chartered by first Native American sorority in country

Members helped with LGBTQ+ ally training, advocated for sexual assault awareness; chapter to host first Grand Gathering in Pacific Northwest

WSU%27s+Xi+chapter+of+the+Alpha+Pi+Omega+sorority+has+been+chartered+this+month.+Members%2C+from+left+to+right%3A+Kaitlin+Srader%2C+Isabel+Walker+and+Hailey+Crow.+

COURTESY OF MICAH MARTINEZ

WSU’s Xi chapter of the Alpha Pi Omega sorority has been chartered this month. Members, from left to right: Kaitlin Srader, Isabel Walker and Hailey Crow.

LOREN NEGRON, Evergreen reporter

Alpha Pi Omega Sorority chartered WSU’s Xi chapter this month, allowing it to become a fully-fledged chapter to the sorority. Three members founded the chapter to create a support system for themselves and other Native American women. 

Established in 1994, Alpha Pi Omega is the first Native American sorority in the country, according to its website. It is founded on Native American traditions. It also focuses on spirituality, education and addressing contemporary issues.

Kaitlin Srader, senior sociology and women’s studies double-major and Xi chapter president, said the chapter received messages from many Alpha Pi Omega members to congratulate the group’s new status.

“As soon as we got chartered virtually, it was super exciting,” she said. “It was so spectacular knowing that all the hard work we had put into a chapter has paid off.”

Ashley Morris, Alpha Pi Omega grand expansion director, said chapters begin their membership as expansion chapters. Then they become provisional chapters after a year. Chapters become chartered during Grand Gathering, the sorority’s annual convention. The Xi chapter was chartered on July 11. 

Srader said she felt overwhelmed while moving from Oklahoma to Pullman. She struggled to find a group of students she could relate to. As a member of the Navajo Nation, she wanted to be part of a group that shared her background and understanding of life.

Srader said her involvement at WSU’s Native American Student Center led to her learning about Alpha Pi Omega. She and her friends researched and contacted the sorority to express their interest in becoming members.

In March 2018, Srader and two other women founded the Xi chapter, which is one of two Alpha Pi Omega chapters in the Pacific Northwest. The chapter’s founding group is called Victory Voices, Srader said, which is a name Alpha Pi Omega bestows upon each founding class at a university.

“It was super exciting finding Alpha Pi Omega,” she said, “because Native American women in higher education are such a small percentage of people who had had higher education.”

Hailey Crow, junior hospitality business management major and Xi chapter vice president, said she feels proud of being part of that small percentage of Native American women who are pursuing higher education. She views this opportunity as a way for her to understand societal issues and be an advocate for other Native Americans.

“To be able to look at the bigger picture and look into other things has really been an advantage,” Crow said.

She said she values the connections she has in the chapter. Growing up on a reservation and being a member of the Suquamish Tribe, Crow wanted to surround herself with individuals who understood the beliefs she grew up learning.

“It’s really nice to be able to connect with people who understand how I was raised,” she said. “They have a lot of the same goals that I have when it comes to education.”

The chapter currently has three members. The group is working on establishing itself in the community and building relationships with other sororities on campus. Srader said the chapter’s main focus is to develop virtual recruitment activities due to COVID-19’s impact on student life this fall.

Morris said she is excited about the chapter’s growth. She said the chapter’s members are planning to engage with other universities, including the University of Washington and the University of Idaho, to promote Alpha Pi Omega.

Srader said they want to use their platform to become better advocates for students. The chapter helped with an inclusive ally training for LGBTQ+ students. The chapter also worked with the Coalition for Women Students to advocate for sexual assault awareness.

“We know being in a sorority is a privilege,” she said, “so we want to be able to use our letters to bring light to other issues.”

The Xi chapter will host Grand Gathering 2022 in Suquamish, Washington. Srader said this will be the first Grand Gathering in the Pacific Northwest.

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited to correct Ashley Morris’ title.