The Merger of Friendship, Philanthropy and Technology

Something special happens when a young woman chooses to enrich her Case undergraduate experience through membership in Alpha Chi Omega: she makes lifelong friends and develops a strong connection to both the fraternity and Case. Combine these elements with a pioneering spirit and a penchant for utilizing the power of technology, and you get our newest endeavor: the first ‘virtual’ alumnae chapter of Alpha Chi Omega.

Alpha Chi Omega is a national women’s organization, founded in 1885 with 131 chapters and 170,000 members worldwide. Zeta Upsilon, our collegiate chapter at Case, was installed on September 24, 1983. Since that time, we have initiated 399 members. To foster our lifelong friendships, we have a tradition of holding reunions every 5 years, which began in 1993 when the chapter moved into its current home on Bellflower. That year, Zeta Upsilon won Alpha Chi Omega’s highest honor, the National Council Trophy, and began leveraging the advances of technology with our first email list.

After celebrating 20 years of Alpha Chi Omega at Case in the fall of 2003 (with a gala Carnation Ball at the Crawford Museum and an alumnae family picnic, in which 75 alums participated, coming from as far away as Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington), we expanded our presence in cyberspace with a private website that now hosts over 200 photos and updates from members and their families. We help each other find jobs and apartments; celebrate graduations, promotions, weddings and new babies; and keep watch during times of trouble, for example, when a sister is battling cancer, as well as when natural disaster strike, like during the hurricanes this fall.

Realizing the potential and power of the internet, and the closeness it brings to those around the country, a few alumni dreamed up the idea of a virtual alumnae group for the Zeta Upsilon chapter that would function solely through email and websites. Since alumnae chapters are traditionally geographically located, our petition to the national organization to be the pilot chapter for a virtual alumni group created a stir and was accepted. The chapter was officially installed on Sunday, September 26th at the AXO house at Case. We now have 49 members all over the country, from California to Maine, with an acting board and an intimacy, despite the distance, that only the internet could produce.

As an active alumni group, we exist to assist the collegiate Zeta Upsilon chapter, strengthen the bonds of Alpha Chi Omega, and to do philanthropic work. We have already begun to support the chapter through donations of money and time, and are particularly excited about the prospect of participating in philanthropies cooperatively. As Gail (Sta. Rinala) Batross so aptly said, “We all get so much out of our sisterhood and the friendships that we have built that we should share that with the community as a whole to do something good for others.” It is only now in this day and age that we can consider our “community” to be one in cyberspace and not one in geography.

This article which was team-written by Leila Shin, Elizabeth Tse and Amy Zoldak was submitted to the Case Magazine for publication October 14, 2004