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Delta Upsilon (ΔΥ) is the sixth oldest international, all-male, college Greek-letter organization, and is the oldest non-secret fraternity in North America. Founded on November 4, 1834, at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, Delta Upsilon has initiated over 125,000 men into its brotherhood since its founding.[1]

Late in the fall of 1834, ten juniors, ten sophomores, and ten freshmen came together in opposition to the activities of the two secret societies on the Williams campus. A meeting was called for the evening of November 4, in the Freshman Recitation Room of Old West College, a Williams College dormitory that still stands today.[2] Within four years, the ideals of an anti-secret brotherhood based on merit spread rapidly, and groups were set up at Union College in 1838, Middlebury College in 1845, and Hamilton College and Amherst College both in 1847. Today, there are 79 DU chapters and colonies across the United States and Canada with an average chapter size of 50.[1]

Among its members, Delta Upsilon includes James A. Garfield, 20th President of the United States; Joseph P. Kennedy, Ambassador to Great Britain and father of two senators and a President; Lester B. Pearson, 14th Prime Minister of Canada; Lou Holtz, NCAA football national champion as coach of Notre Dame in 1988 and ESPN college football analyst; Michael D. Eisner, former chairman and CEO of Walt Disney Co.; Tommy Franks, former commanding general of the United States Central Command; Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., editorialist and author; Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel Prize winner; Charles Evan Hughes, former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court; Peter Ueberroth, organizer of the 1984 Summer Olympics and former commissioner of Major League Baseball, and Juan Manuel Santos, current President Republic of Colombia.



In the fall of 1834, on the Williams College, the two secret fraternities on campus had begun to effectively dominate the campus honors lists with their own men. This practice was frowned upon by the faculty, as they questioned whether the campus politics were becoming contrary to the founding purposes of the college itself. On November 4, the campus saw the formation of The Social Fraternity. Although the records of this first meeting were destroyed in a fire seven years later, it is known that the Social Fraternity flourished. Soon, more than half of the men on campus were listed as members. The fraternity openly published their constitution and made known their membership and ideals. Soon, The Social Fraternity at Williams was joined by similar groups at Union College in Schenectady, New York, Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, and Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts.

In November 1847, these anti-secret groups met in the first convention at Troy, New York and formally organized a fraternity, established as the Anti-Secret Confederation (ASC). The ASC constitution paralleled that of the Williams Chapter, and the convention first adopted a member key bearing its motto, the Greek words, Ouden Adelon, meaning "Nothing Secret." The Fraternity's colors were set as "old gold on a field of sapphire-blue.[2]"

The next convention was hosted by the Middlebury Chapter in Burlington, Vermont in 1852. By the Convention of 1852, seven chapters had been established and were thriving. The seven chapters in attendance at the convention, Williams, Union, Hamilton, Amherst, Wesleyan of Middletown, Connecticut, Western Reserve of Cleveland, Ohio, and Colby of Waterville, Maine, are known as the "Seven Stars" of the anti-secrecy fight and are commemorated in the Fraternity Coat of Arms. Two years later, in 1854, Middlebury withdrew from the Confederation and therefore is not included in the "seven stars" commemoration.[3]

Early years[]

By 1864, the Civil War had taken its toll on college men, and fraternities as well. Changes were necessary in the ASC, a more centralized government of the chapters was needed, and there were issues regarding fraternity insignia and ritual. In March, delegates from the Hamilton College, Rutgers College (now Rutgers University) and University of Rochester chapters went to Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont to meet in convention. Within a day, the convention formally adopted the name Delta Upsilon, approved a new constitution, and approved the fraternity's member badge still in use today.[4]

In 1879, the fraternity recognized that active opposition to secret fraternities was no longer necessary. The Convention formally changed the policy of anti-secrecy to non-secrecy, as stated in the Ritual of Initiation, "the character of the secret societies so altered, that hostility toward them decreased." Following the war the fraternity began to grow again and by 1880, Delta Upsilon had grown to fifteen active chapters.[5]

In 1867 and 1869, the fraternity began sporadic publication of Our Record, the fraternity's first journal. In 1882, the Quarterly was introduced as the official fraternity journal. Since then, the journal has not missed an issue making it one of the oldest continuously published fraternity magazines. In 1884, the fraternity celebrated its 50th year with the publication of The Quinquennial, the first published history. This important anniversary marked a surge in new chapters, including chapters in new areas. The first chapter west of the Mississippi River, at the University of Minnesota, was established in 1890. The first petitioned fraternity chapter was approved in 1886 at Boston's Tufts University. The first fraternity chapters in the Western United States were established both at the University of California at Berkeley and at Stanford University in neighboring Palo Alto in 1896. In 1898, the fraternity established a chapter at McGill University in Montreal, which made Delta Upsilon an international fraternity. That same year, a chapter at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, marked the fraternity's first Great Plains Chapter.[6]

Twentieth century[]

After 1900, the fraternity's growth spurt slowed. The fraternity turned to petitioning societies, often "well-established local fraternities with solid records of achievement on their campuses."[7] These groups were closely examined and often delayed acceptance into Delta Upsilon by the Convention, some groups petitioned five or more times for a charter.

In 1909, Charles Evans Hughes, (Colgate and Brown 1881), led the incorporation of the fraternity. Incorporation under New York law meant the creation of an Assembly of Trustees who would elect the Board of Directors for the Fraternity.[7]

File:McGill University, Stained Glass War Memorial.jpg

McGill University, Delta Upsilon Stained Glass Great War Memorial Window

A Great War memorial window featuring Saint George and a slain dragon at the entrance to the Blackader-Lauterman Library of Architecture and Art at McGill University is dedicated (1919–20) to the memory of 23 members of the McGill Chapter of Delta Upsilon who gave their lives in the Great War.[8]

The first fraternity membership manual, the early predecessor of The Cornerstone, the Manual of Delta Upsilon, was published in 1916. A chapter at the University of Virginia was established in 1922, opening the Southern United States for Delta Upsilon. In combination with the membership manual, emphasis on chapter quality led to the establishment of strong chapters throughout the 1920s. A Permanent Trust Fund was established in 1921, to ensure financial stability for the growing fraternity.[7]

As the world faced the crash of the Great Depression, colleges and fraternities across the country were hit hard. Delta Upsilon was lucky and well prepared, not a single chapter was lost; in fact the fraternity added nine chapters to its rolls between 1929 and 1935. During both World War I and World War II, many chapter houses were occupied for military needs.[9]

Following World War II, a surge in interest in college fraternities led to a wave of new chapters for the fraternity. In addition to new chapters, the fraternity Board of Directors held its first annual Leadership Conference in the summer of 1949. That year, the Delta Upsilon Educational Foundation was formed to raise money for education and assistance of the fraternity's brothers. In theme with the emphasis on chapter quality, the fraternity instituted the Superior Chapter Program in 1960, a planning and evaluation plan which was used to evaluate chapters on objective criteria.[10]

The Civil Rights Movement in the United States led to an analysis of many institutions, including fraternities, and challenged their membership policies. While many fraternities were found to have by-laws with criteria that permitted only certain men into membership, Delta Upsilon's membership criteria since 1834, had recognized only one distinction: merit.[11]

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, new challenges faced Fraternities and Sororities across North America. Alcohol laws changed, allowing college men to drink. As chapters fell to the social pressures of alcohol, many turned to "wet rushing", the use of parties and events that offer alcohol as an enticement to attend. This process allowed for poor decisions, poor quality new members and damaged chapters. Delta Upsilon was not immune to these pressures, the fraternity did not sit idle. Delta Upsilon was one of the first fraternaties to call for dry rush on college campuses. In addition, the fraternity was one of the first to emphasize the dangers of hazing and implementing more positive pledge education programs. Because of the fraternity's high standards, many chapters were suspended or had their charters revoked.

During the 1990s, efforts strengthened toward alcohol-free initiatives.[12] For instance, the Fraternity established the McQuaid Commission in 1997 to review its focus on alcohol-free policies. The McQuaid Commission evaluated its members' attitudes toward and use of alcohol, as well as the effects of alcohol on the organization as a whole. After investigating these issues, the McQuaid Commission presented a report of its findings in 1998 at its Leadership Institute. The report also included recommendations, which included alcohol education programming for its members, alcohol-free housing for new and reinstated chapters, and new guidelines for meeting the fraternity's Chapter Excellence Plan.[13]

Twenty-first century[]

On March 28, 2009, Delta Upsilon established its 152nd chapter, and the second of the 21st century, at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. The initiation was also significant as it was the first time in more than a century that Delta Upsilon established a chapter at a school where no previous fraternities and sororities existed. The initiation was also significant because it included Delta Upsilon's first ever digital initiation, with three Brothers of the Webster Chapter studying abroad in Switzerland being initiated online.[14]

In 2009, the Fraternity achieved another milestone by celebrating its 175th anniversary since inception. On April 21, 2012, Delta Upsilon chartered its 157th chapter at Elon University.

Notable members[]

Main article: Category:Delta Upsilon members


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Delta Upsilon In Brief". Delta Upsilon Fraternity. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Delta Upsilon Fraternity (1991-08-01). The Cornerstone: Delta Upsilon's Guide to College and Beyond. Indianapolis, Indiana: Delta Upsilon Fraternity. p. 59
  3. Cornerstone 1991, p. 142-143
  4. "History". Delta Upsilon Fraternity. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  5. "The Ritual Book" (PDF). Delta Upsilon Fraternity. 2002. Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
  6. Cornerstone 1991, p. 59-60
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Cornerstone 1991, p. 60
  8. McGill Chapter of Delta Upsilon Great War Memorial Window
  9. Cornerstone 1991, p. 61
  10. Cornerstone 1991, p. 61-63
  11. Cornerstone 1991, p. 64
  12. Cornerstone 1991, p. 65
  14. "Webster Chapter Installed". DU Quarterly (Delta Upsilon Fraternity): pp. 7. 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 


  • Delta Upsilon Fraternity (1991). The Cornerstone:Delta Upsilon's Guide to College and Beyond. Delta Upsilon Fraternity. 
  • Delta Upsilon Fraternity (2002) (PDF). The Ritual Book. Delta Upsilon Fraternity. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 

External links[]

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