By Kimberly Haley, Upsilon/Union
It’s International Badge Day!
Each year women from the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) are invited to come together in celebration of the “common sorority experience” by wearing their respective badge. This tradition began in 1997 and is recognized in March among other female-centered celebrations like, National Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day.
NPC Badges, image courtesy of Zeta Tau Alpha
Our very own Sister and former longtime NPC delegate Patty Plumlee Disque, Alpha Beta/Auburn, exemplifies adoration, support, and enthusiasm for all NPC groups. Patty’s family is Panhellenic through and through!
“Long before I joined Chi Omega, my mother and sister were both Kappa Deltas,” she said. Patty has one Alpha Omicron Pi daughter, one daughter who followed in her footsteps pledging Chi Omega at Auburn, and one Sigma Delta Tau daughter-in-law. Disque found her love for fraternity and sorority life while serving on the NPC delegation for Chi Omega in 1991, and served for 25 years building authentic connections with women from all 26 national organizations.
Patty’s Chi Omega story began the summer before college when she worked at a camp alongside five Chi Omegas and the rest was history!
She has served the Fraternity in different roles, from her time as a collegiate member and later, as an alumna. Her service began in 1962 when she served her chapter as Recruitment Chair. She attended Convention that year as an official delegate in place of her chapter’s G.H. and while attending, she had her first encounter with Winnie Bowker, Psi/Arkansas, a Chi Omega alumna who would later serve as S.H. and become a major influence on Patty’s Panhellenic experience.
In the fall of her senior year, Patty was elected G.H. to which she first resisted and told her Sisters she was too busy in her major classes. She said, “…and besides, you wouldn’t like it because I’m a rule follower.” She made sure her Sisters knew even though they were all friends, if they broke the rules they would have consequences. Even still, they convinced her and she accepted. She attended Firesides in 1963 as G.H., further exposing her to Chi Omega’s work on a national level.
Patty’s encounters with Winnie Bowker did not stop at Convention 1962. Winnie traveled to Auburn University the following year to attend the Southeastern Panhellenic Conference and Patty was assigned the job of getting Winnie to the airport after the conclusion of the conference.
“I had to get permission to leave my dorm room at 4:30 a.m. to get her to the airport,” Patty said.
A year later, in January 1964, Patty got married and moved to Scottsdale, AZ. In October, she heard Winnie would be visiting the Psi Epsilon Chapter at Arizona State for an NPC meeting. All alumnae in the area were invited to meet Winnie and, of course, Patty decided to go see her.
She said, “When I walked up, she knew my name and said, ‘This G.H. had to get up at 4:00 a.m. to get me to the airport for my flight when I was visiting the [Auburn] campus last March.’”
Patty and Winnie’s encounters came full circle when Bowker called her a month later and asked if she would be the Personnel Advisor for the Psi Epsilon Chapter. She accepted the offer and served for five years, alongside her college roommate and three other advisors.
“We had a wonderful time as a group of advisors and 54 years later, three of us are still alive and friends today,” she said.
In 1970, Winnie was elected S.H. One afternoon, following years of Patty and Winnie crossing paths, she called Patty and asked if she was interested in traveling part-time for Chi Omega. Patty accepted and traveled from 1971-1981. Following her travels, Patty served the Fraternity as S.N.V. for eight years, from 1982-1990, and in 1993 Patty went on to serve as Chi Omega’s NPC Delegate for 15 years, building relationships across organizations and fostering collaborations among Panhellenic women.
Governing Council at 1998 St. Louis Convention, front row, Roselyn Dabbs, Jan Blackwell, back row, Patty Disque, Linda Niemczyk, and Melanie Shain
Today, Patty owns an interior design company and her degree in design has served Chi Omega well. She has used her professional experience and talent to decorate several chapter facilities, including Beta Alpha/University of Pennsylvania, Mu Kappa/Duke, Pi Beta/Minnesota, and Upsilon Delta/Miami (FL).
When Patty reflects on the meaning of International Badge Day she thinks back to the time when a chapter advisor from another NPC organization came to Auburn for a visit during recruitment. This sorority was going to open a chapter on campus. After the advisor visited several chapters, Patty said the advisor asked, “What chapters are the best on campus?” Patty responded to her question with a question, “Which do you think are the best chapters?” The advisor went on the say she could not tell. Patty told her, “If you can’t tell then I’m not going to tell you!” Patty expressed how she felt that all chapters were strong on campus.
“There are women from different backgrounds, races, tall, short, small, and big,” Disque said, “International Badge Day is a time for friends from other organizations to come together and there is certainly room for everyone. It’s the understanding of what it means to be in a sorority,” she ended.