Letters to the editor
More Greeks speak out

I received the Winter 2004 edition of Virginia Tech Magazine and was immediately drawn to read the article on Greek life. I was excited to see my organization mentioned, but I would like to note that Alpha Phi Omega is not a sorority; rather, it is a co-ed service fraternity. Founded in 1948 as the "Boy Scout" fraternity, and co-ed on a national level since 1976, the Zeta Beta chapter of Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity has never been inactive. While not a "social" fraternity, brothers (both male and female) nonetheless also have fellowship events to go along with the four-fold purpose of the fraternity: service to the community, service to the campus, service to the nation as a participating citizen, and service to the fraternity through leadership development. Currently, there are two Virginia Tech alumni serving on the APO National Board of Directors. Many brothers are, and have been, members of social sororities and fraternities on campus, along with holding membership in APO.

Jamie Perrine Conover '89

Mechanicsville, Va.

Editor's note: The article erroneously referred to Alpha Phi Omega sorority. It should have referenced Alpha Chi Omega sorority instead. We regret any confusion this may have caused.

Thank you for your very informative article on Greek life. Just a bit of clarification: Shadow Lake was the forerunner of Sigma Lambda. In fact, "sigma" and "lambda" are the Greek letters for the "S" and "L" of Shadow Lake. The "fraternity" house was a large cabin on Shadow Lake, just outside Blacksburg.

That generation of brothers was mostly WWII veterans, all civilians a few years older than most of the Tech students. Sigma Lambda was totally self-governing, and although Tech's administrators were well aware of our activities, they kept their distance. Membership was by invitation, and we did have some academic standards. I don't remember anyone dropping out. Some activities were rather rambunctious, but our members went on to have successful careers in nuclear physics, aerospace, and even Congress. After all these years, we still have annual reunions at Tech.

Bob Deurer '52
Baltimore, Md.

I enjoyed your article about Greek life on campus but was disappointed not to see anything about the dorm clubs that were active during my time as an undergraduate (1958-63). I lived in Campbell Hall and our club was called FEDA. If memory serves me, that stood for "Fellowship Education Development Association," although the members had more quaint definitions. It operated very much like a fraternity and had elected officers. The organization fielded teams for intramural sports but otherwise met infrequently. The main purpose seemed to be to organize an occasional beer party. This consisted of leasing a field from a nearby farmer for a day, then carting out a couple of kegs of beer. The members would then drink themselves into a stupor. I did not drink but didn't want to miss out on the "fun" so they would get a six-pack of pop for me.

Craig Van Natta '63
Norfolk, Va.

If Old MacDonald had a university ...

eieio sealIn response to letters that appeared in the Winter 2004 issue of Virginia Tech Magazine, I am writing to fill in the gaps of the naming contest held at Tech in the late 1970s. As the letters noted, the winner of the contest was the name "Eastern Institute of Enlightenment and Intellectual Outgrowth," or, of course, E.I.E.I.O.

I was editor-in-chief of the Collegiate Times in 1979, the year the CT sponsored the naming contest. The board of visitors was wrestling with which name to use as the public standard, and so we at the CT decided the students should get their shot.

Two of my favorite entries were Northern Virginia Community College (Blacksburg Campus), and Fred's University. However, E.I.E.I.O. was the clear winner, playing off the school's agricultural heritage. I wrote an article [about the contest] for the CT and then submitted it to the Associated Press, which picked it up and ran it nationally. The response was so great that I did media interviews from as far away as radio station KDKA in San Diego. Following all the corn-pone exposure, the U.Va. Pep Band picked up on the opportunity and played "Old MacDonald" at halftime of the next Tech-Virginia football game.

One of our CT artists at the time [Mary Pat Cox] drew the E.I.E.I.O. logo, which we used to make T-shirts, and I still have my souvenir shirt. The shirt is faded, but my memory and enjoyment of our little naming contest are still quite clear.

Doug Waters '80
Cincinnati, Ohio
Washington Post

I, too, read the article "Virginia Tech by any other name" in the Fall 2003 issue of Virginia Tech Magazine and was reminded of the name-the-university contest. In my yellowing files, I found the Nov. 1, 1979, Washington Post article that described the contest run by the Collegiate Times.

However, if my fading memory is correct, I seem to recall that upon seeing the Washington Post article, I recognized the contest to be a "copy cat." I believe Mr. Ayers is also correct about the timing. I was an undergraduate at the time that "and State University" was added to Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and I recall a considerable amount of derision over the abbreviation "VPI & SU." Having had to explain on many occasions that "VPI" and "Virginia Tech" were indeed the same school, many of the students wondered what to call our university--"Vee Pee Eye and Ess You" (a mouthful) or the shortened "Vipsu"? Neither was all that attractive, and most used "Virginia Tech."

Terry Hertz '72
Alexandria, Va.

The name E.I.E.I.O. is cemented in Tech memorabilia as part of the Class of 1982's ring. Check out the torch on the lower right side of the ring (the side with the large numbered year)--E.I.E.I.O. is etched into the rim.

Tom Revak '82
Raleigh, N.C.

Incidentally, Virginia Tech was not the only university with an identity crisis in the late '70s. While I was at Stanford (1975-78), there was quite a debate concerning the school mascot. The alumni preferred to keep the traditional Indian as the mascot, and the students voted for the griffin (a mythical creature composed of the parts of several animals), while the university proper went with the Stanford Cardinal--the color, not the bird. To complicate matters, the band mascot was (and still is, I think) a tree, and I seem to remember their parading around an elephant squash in a rickshaw during one or more halftimes. It could definitely have been worse at Tech.

Dave Goodman '73, M.S. '75
Anchorage, Alaska


The Winter 2004 issue contained two misspelled names. In the article "Great X-pections," page 8, Kevin Shinpaugh was one of the researchers whose work led to the creation of System X. In "Tech News," page 4, Charles Bostian is one of the university's new Alumni Distinguished Professors. We apologize for the errors.

The Virginia Tech Athletics Office of Student Life does not offer Transitions classes, as stated in the article "Helping create the total person" on page 7 of the Winter 2004 issue of Virginia Tech Magazine. Instead, the office supports student-athletes' enrollment and participation in the Transitions I and II classes taught by Lois Berg, associate director of Student Athlete Academic Support Services.