The emblems and insignia of Lambda Chi Alpha serve not only as symbols of our fraternal identity, but as a sort of Ritual incarnate, everyday reminders of our ideals.
Perhaps the most commonly seen artistry representing Lambda Chi Alpha is our coat of arms, developed (unlike that of most fraternities) after careful study of the rules of heraldry. Designed by Jack Mason of Epsilon Zeta (University of Pennsylvania), our coat of arms displays our three open mottos, translated from top to bottom, “Crescent in the Cross,” “Naught Without Labor,” and “Every Man a Man.” Present are the crucicrescent, the lamp of learning, the clasped hands of brotherhood, and other symbols, as well as the inescutcheon signifying our merger with Theta Kappa Nu (the white rose is our fraternity flower) and the badge of membership below. In the medieval rules of heraldry it would be described as such:
Escutcheon: quarterly 1, vert, a lighten Greek lamp or; 2, or, an open book proper, bearing on its face the letters Chi, Omicron, Alpha Zeta; 3, able, a balance, or; 4, vert, a pair of clasped hands argent, between three mullets in chevron or; over all an inescutcheon argent, lion rampant holding a white rose slipped proper.
Behind the escutcheon a pair of swords in saltire, points downward, argent, pommels, and hilts or. Mantling vert, lined, or.
Encircling the escutcheon a riband purpire, edged argent, bearing the Greek motto Chalepa ta Kala surronded by an olive wreath which bears pendant the badge of the brotherhood.
Below the escutcheon a scroll with the Latin motto Vir Quisque Vir.
Crest: issuant from a crown celestial or, ensigning a gentlemen's helmet proper, a crucicrescent rayonne or, Latin motto Per Crucam Crescens, on scroll.
[from Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities, 19th Edition, (1977), p300.]
The Badge of Membership of Lambda Chi Alpha is among the most meaningful in the fraternal world. Each stone, letter, and line, and each circle of the crescent has a special meaning. Lambda Chi Alpha shares with Theta Chi, Triangle, and Alpha Chi Rho the distinction of using both a monogram of its letters and a key fraternal symbol in the shape of the badge.
Our membership badge is made with the lambda being struck separately from a single piece comprising the chi, alpha, and crescent. The background for the letters delta and pi is enameled, and the lambda is joined to the remainder of the badge (always yellow, white, or green gold) before the eight crescent pearls and (optional) stones in the lambda are set.
The centrality of the badge is a custom continued from our fraternal predecessor literary societies. The Badge is properly worn over the heart, preferably with a badge guard bearing a monogram of the member’s zeta designation, and only by initiated members, their wives, and their fiancees (special exceptions may be made for some housemothers).
Cornell’s chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha holds a footnote in our fraternal history. By the time Omicron was chartered in 1913, the General Fraternity had approved a badge, designed by William Thegen’s Sons, Jewelers. They were jeweled as per the wishes of the Pennsylvania Chapter with eight pearls in the crescent and eleven in the lambda. Most early badges were produced by Hoover and Smith of Philadelphia.
Perhaps disliking the connection to Pennsylvania— Cornell’s archrival— (although this is speculative), Lambda Chi’s at Cornell took a break from the national precedent, an unusual step for such a young chapter. Beginning with our installation in October of 1913, badges were instead secured from the L.G. Balfour, Co. of Attleboro, Mass. Balfour was founded by fraternity men (“Bally” himself was a Sigma Chi), but because of the youth of our Fraternity, and the fact that they dealt exclusively with our chapter, Lambda Chi Alpha was listed for some time in their records as a local fraternity at Cornell.
Balfour’s superior workmanship was appreciated by most of the Grand High Zeta, but was sharply criticized by Grand High Alpha Warren A. Cole, who refused to grant Balfour an official jewelryship. This situation changed dramatically in 1920 when Ernst J.C. Fischer replaced Cole as Grand High Alpha, and granted Balfour the exclusive jewelryship. Fischer, of course, was a Cornell Lambda Chi, and it did not hurt that Balfour had supported him against Cole in his bid for Grand High Alpha at the 1919–1920 General Assembly in Ann Arbor.
According to the History of Lambda Chi Alpha, we are the seventh order espousing knightly ideals to use the crescent as a symbol. It signifies eternity, purity, fertility and growth, and submision to divine law; it was the symbol adopted by the legendary founder of Lambda Chi Alpha, Rene of Anjou. Warren A. Cole writes, “For a further symbol we took the Cross of St. George" who might almost be called the patron saint of brotherhoods… As Brother Wurster (who is something of a poet) remarked, ‘There you have aspiration and sacrifice together, which follows out our motto.’”
The Friendship Badge, created by Jack Mason following controversy over whether sisters, housemothers, and steady girlfriends could wear the badge, is a crucicrescent with a shield superimposed and the letters of the Fraternity written onto it. Created by Balfour, it “carries no promise of protection from the Fraternity, and is simply a casual compliment. It does not require the salute of removing one’s hat…”
The Associate Member Pin consists of the letters lambda, chi, and alpha formed into a Gothic arch superimposed over four triangles (another symbolic union of Lambda Chi Alpha and Theta Kappa Nu). Its symbolism is given in the Associate Member Ceremony:
(High Alpha) As a token of your acceptance of our pledge and of our desire to be of assistance to you, whom we hope to know as brothers, you have been invested with the badge which is the emblem of Associate Membership in Lambda Chi Alpha. It consists of four equilateral triangles, standing for fraternity patriotism, learning and morality, and upon them has been imposed a monogram of the letters Lambda, Chi, and Alpha, the significance of which will be explained to you at a later time.