The student government constitution of 1924 put most of the power in just a few key positions such that a few students in collusion could rule the entire student body. To address this problem, a new student “Executive Cabinet” was established in 1940 with broader representation and distribution of power. To help assure a fair student government into the future, several honor societies of the time realized the need to groom capable freshmen for future leadership rolls in student government. In the Fall of 1939, in anticipation of this new student government structure, Omicron Delta kappa (ODK; all male at the time) founded “Squires” (also all male at the time) as a Sophomore honor society to recognize and bring together in one body those students who had shown exemplary character and leadership as freshmen. The first members were selected in the Fall of 1939 to serve during the 1939-1940 academic year with the stated purpose:
“For the purpose of recognizing the most outstanding sophomores, ODK annually selects ten second-year students to be Squires. These students are selected on the basis of scholarship, achievement in leadership, character, and promise as college students. Membership in Squires is the highest campus honor that can come to a rising sophomore.”
Squires were expected to “aid student organizations in any possible way and also strive to preserve the friendly spirit for which Auburn University is noted.” Squires highlights include: lighting the Samford Hall Clock in 1941, sponsoring some of the earliest campus blood drives for the war effort beginning in 1942, sponsoring the first “Hey Day” in 1950, sponsoring a Village Fair Queen, sponsoring War Eagle Days “to promote the famous War Eagle Spirit and Auburn friendliness,” co-sponsoring early step-sings with Mortar Board, and many more worthwhile activities. Squires went co-ed in the Spring of 1976 by selecting its first women members for the 1976-1977 school year.
As an aside, in the 1940’s and 1950’s, Cardinal Key (all women at the time) and then Sphinx, the all-women predecessor of Mortar Board, sponsored a sophomore female counterpart to Squires called “Owls.” Squires and Owls served similar purposes and often worked together on many projects during the early years. While Owls subsequently separated from Mortar Board to affiliate with the national women’s honor society “Cwens” (pronounced “Queens”) in 1957, which later reorganized under Title IX in 1976 to become the national co-ed sophomore honor society “Lambda Sigma,” Squires has maintained its local affiliation under ODK. As such, Squires remains as the only Auburn honorary where proven upper-class campus leaders (through ODK) reach down into the freshman class to help identify and build student leadership for the future of Auburn.
Prepared by Dr. Dale A. Coleman
A current Squires service project: working with the local EMS and fire departments to develop a CPR/medical emergency training program for all the fraternities and sororities with the hopes that SGA will take the project over and keep it going after this year. Also planned is a fund-raiser to help furnish each fraternity house with some basic emergency medical equipment. That will help reduce their insurance premiums long-term. Leading the Squires project is Brad Smith.
To see photos of the 2006 Squires: