Little Bits of History

Delta Phi

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 17, 2011

Delta Phi logo

November 17, 1827: Delta Phi is formed in Schenectady, New York at Union College. It was formed as part of the Union Triad along with Kappa Alpha Society and Sigma Phi Society. Kappa Alpha and Delta Phi argued over who got title to the oldest continuous fraternity, with both claiming title. Sigma Phi simply claims second oldest continuously operating fraternity. The issue with the oldest status seems to be the actual date of founding. Kappa Alpha met informally prior to the formal formation on November 26 and they use their older date.

These societies or fraternities were formed during the anti-Masonic era in the US. Since these groups met secretly, they also became targets. This led Phi Beta Kappa, the actual oldest fraternity, to abandon the idea and become a public honor society. In the early 1930s, Union College president, Eliphalet Nott, asked for all fraternities to disband. However, John Jay Hyde, a member of Delta Phi, argued for the benefits of the society. He did so with such sincerity and force that Nott relented.

Hyde went on to design the badge still in use by Delta Phi. It is a Maltese Cross, a symbol of the Knights of Malta. For this reason, the society is sometimes called “The St. Elmo Club.” Today, the fraternity remains active although it is fairly small. There are 14 active chapters but they are trying to expand. Most of the chapters are along the east coast but there are chapters in Ohio and Illinois. There are also 12 inactive chapters, again mostly from the east coast region, although once again an outlier state is Indiana.

Union College was established in 1795 and is a private non-denominational liberal arts college. There are currently 21 academic departments with the largest percentage of students majoring in the social sciences. There are some engineering majors at Union as well as other science majors. Most students, about 60%, manage to engage in international study or actual study abroad. There are about 2,200 undergraduate students enrolled at Union.

“A ‘fraternity’ is the antithesis of fraternity.  The first… is predicated on the idea of exclusion; the second (that is, the abstract thing) is based on a feeling of total equality.” – E.B. White

“Brotherhood is not letting petty differences get in the way of anything. It is about being true to yourself. It is about experiencing new adventures by entering the realm of others.” – unknown

“The ties that bind me to my Brothers are not wrapped around my wrists, but rather are fastened to my heart!” – unknown

“You can take the Brothers our of the Fraternity, but you can’t take the Brotherhood out of the Brothers.” – unknown

Also on this day:
The Heidi Game – In 1968, NBC didn’t finish the game, leaving a football game in progress to air the previously scheduled movie.
Point Made – In 1970, the computer mouse was patented.

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