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Alpha Xi Delta is a member of National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), the umbrella organization of 26 national sororities. By its constitution, Alpha Xi Delta is one of the few social sororities that accepts graduate students as well as undergraduates. The sorority has over 185,000 initiated members and maintains active chapters at 130 institutions across the United States, and its headquarters are located in Indianapolis, Indiana.
In 1893, ten women at Lombard College in Galesburg, Illinois founded Alpha Xi Delta. It is referred to as a fraternity due to having been founded before the term "sorority" was used.
Cora Bollinger Block (1869-1944) was the first President of Alpha Xi Delta. She went on to be the first Grand President.
Alice Bartlett Bruner (1878-1966) taught music at the Lombard Conservatory. She had two daughters who later joined the sorority as a legacy.
Bertha Cook Evans (1874-1957) had three daughters, two of whom joined Alpha Xi Delta. Later in her life, she served as a fraternity house director.
Harriett Luella McCollum (1874-1948) and Cora, roommates at Lombard, were the first to make the plan for Alpha Xi Delta.
Lucy W. Gilmer (1872-1939) was the first Vice President of Alpha Xi Delta. After 1893 she transferred schools, where she studied to be a physician.
Lewie Strong Taylor (1867-1950) designed the quill symbol, which is on display at national headquarters.
Almira Lowry Cheney (1875-1946) was a teacher who went on to pioneer religious education by becoming a minister of the Universalist Church. She was also Chaplain of the 12th, 13th, and 14th National Conventions for Alpha Xi Delta.
Frances Elizabeth Cheney (1869-1901), in her time as an Alpha Xi, served as chaplain, secretary, and president. She is given credit for many of the fraternity's early songs.
Eliza Drake Curtis Everton (1867-1934) was Alpha Xi Delta's second president.
Julia Maude Foster (1875-1948) was a member of the committee who drafted Alpha Xi Delta's first constitution.
In 1904, the sorority joined the National Panhellenic Conference. Alpha Xi Delta's first chairman of the NPC wrote the Panhellenic Creed, a statement still used on many college campuses today.
The colors of Alpha Xi Delta are light blue, navy blue, and gold. The fraternity flower is the pink Killarney Rose, as chosen by the founders to complement the white rose of Sigma Nu fraternity whose brothers helped to found Alpha Xi Delta at Lombard College. The mascot is a teddy bear, and the official mascot is named BetXi Bear. Each initiated member wears the golden quill (the official symbol), which is depicted in the crest and represents the open motto "The Pen is Mightier than the Sword." The pearl and the diamond are the official jewels.
The open creed is called "The Symphony of Alpha Xi Delta", and it lists the ideals of the sorority's members. It was written in 1924 by Helen Willis Lynn, Alice Matthews, and Almira Cheney, one of the original founders.
Alpha Xi Delta's national philanthropic partner has been Autism Speaks since April 2, 2009. The sorority has since raised more than $7,000,000 for its philanthropic partner.
Chapters and alumnae associations observe World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 and Autism Awareness Month throughout the month of April. Sisters raise awareness in various ways, including passing out blue ribbons, placing advertisements in campus and local newspapers, distributing information in the community and appearing on local television programs to educate people about autism. The sorority also participates in Light It Up Blue, an initiative started by Autism Speaks in 2009 to help "Shine a Light on Autism by Illuminating Prestigious Buildings and Monuments Throughout the World". Members participate by lighting their chapter houses, campus monuments and sports facilities blue during the month of April.
Prior to partnering with Autism Speaks, Alpha Xi Delta was the only sorority that did not have an official organization as a philanthropy. The "Choose Children" policy gave each chapter direction to choose which organization they wanted to help.
In 2011, the Alpha Xi Delta national organization revoked the Binghamton University chapter's charter for "continu[ing] to violate Alpha Xi Delta's policies on risk management and observance of Fraternity rituals despite efforts to lead the chapter to a culture consistent with Alpha Xi Delta's policies and value."
In 2017, the Cornell University chapter of Alpha Xi Delta was placed on probationary status for three years, "as a result of incidents determined to include both hazing and alcohol policy violations."
In 2017, the University of Central Florida chapter of Alpha Xi Delta was suspended on the grounds of "allegations of alcohol-related misconduct, which includes providing alcohol to someone underage; hazing; and possessing and/or providing false and misleading information and/or falsification of university records."
Controversy over Autism Speaks affiliation
In 2017, editorials appeared in the Temple University and the College of New Jersey student newspapers criticizing Alpha Xi Delta for its philanthropic connections to Autism Speaks on the grounds that the organization misunderstands, misrepresents, and promotes harmful stereotypes of individuals with autism.