XXXI, Alabama all-female honor society welcomes new members

As a part of the 2013 Honors Week, 18 female juniors will begin their initiation into the order of The University of Alabama’s only all-female honor society, The XXXI.

Founded in 1989, The XXXI recognizes female students and faculty who have positively contributed to the University. The name is a play on the University’s founding year, 1831.

“What they have in common is they have all made a significant impact on campus or an accomplishment while they are here,” Tonya Nelson, senior advisor for The XXXI, said.

Along with 18 rising senior members, each order also includes eight honorary senior or graduate members, three alumnae, one faculty member and one honorary member. Honorary members are usually women on a state or national stage that are connected to Alabama, such as recent honoree Condoleezza Rice.

Sarah Hughes, a senior majoring in political science and a member of the 24th order, said the society was started by women who felt they needed a way to honor and praise the accomplishments of other women they knew were involved and had done great things on campus.

“It’s a very diverse group of women,” Hughes said. “From greek to non-greek, Honors College students, Creative Campus members, it’s across the spectrum on campus.”

Hughes said new members are decided on by current members. Any member of The XXXI can submit a blind nomination, meaning the new members do not know about it until they are tapped in.

“It’s unique because we have such a wide variety of nominations,” Hughes said. “It’s a very difficult process to narrow it down.”

Nelson said the group celebrates women of all spectrums who are committed to their paths. Current members include women from the founder of Rocket Girls, an all-female engineering team, to the innovator of Quidditch on the Quad.

“The best thing about XXXI is there isn’t one type of woman,” Nelson said.

Nelson said that it is great to see women talk about other women in a positive and generous manner.

“I love that this early in their careers, they are sharing their success with other women,” Nelson said.

The XXXI is involved in multiple community projects every year including Christmas clothing drives for families in Tuscaloosa and hosting a fall festival with Tuscaloosa’s OnePlace.

“They are all so accomplished but so down to earth,” Nelson said. “They are cool people that want to do great things. They are not so full of themselves that they want to help others.”

Kristy Reynolds, one of the three founding members of The XXXI, is now a marketing professor on campus. She said while The XXXI was not founded in response to The Jasons, an all-male honors society on campus, the original founders of the group did think that there should be a representation of women on campus too. She said she never dreamed The XXXI would continue for this long.

“Even though I was a founder, I am still really honored and amazed to be a part of it,” Reynolds said. “Over time, these women have done a great job of enabling the group to persevere and remain as something that people aspire to be in.”

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