Disclaimer: While some of the sororities mentioned go by “fraternities,” we decided to identify the solely male organizations as fraternities, and the solely female organizations as sororities. Some of the mentioned groups do not identify as such, though.
On the surface, most people who aren’t involved in the Greek Community on campus would assume that the fraternity and sororities were pretty much all the same. If you’re in the Greek Community, you know that’s entirely untrue. But do you know what makes them different on a National level? Also, did you know that there are 18 Greek organizations on campus that are considered “social fraternities/sororities”? Ladies and Gents, here’s an article about some neat-o (yes, I said neat-o), bizarre, kick ass fun facts about each “social” fraternity and sorority at Christopher Newport University, and why they’re pretty damn cool.
1) Alpha Delta Pi (sorority)
This is a fact that ADPi’s all know by heart, but Alpha Delta Pi was the first sorority, ever! Back in 1851, they were founded at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. A handful of women decided that they wanted to start an empowering organization exclusively for women that would focus on sisterhood, self, scholarship, and service. These ladies started it all, and we are lucky enough to have one of their chapters on campus! Also, their Macon Magnolia Sisters are Phi Mu, which was also founded at Wesleyan College. Their hand signs complete each other, which is super cute. <3
2) Alpha Kappa Alpha (sorority)
AKA is also a pioneer in the Greek world. In 1908, their founder started what would be known as the first African American Greek-lettered sorority. Their goals were to provide opportunities for educated women to excel in a male-dominated world that would otherwise see them fail. They are now an internationally recognized organization, with chapters even in South Korea, The Middle East, Germany, and many more countries! Their presence is worldwide, and they have for years been working towards female empowerment and promoting the beauty of African American culture.
3) Alpha Phi (sorority)
Alpha Phi is actually responsible for the National Panhellenic Conference coming together way back when. APhi invited Pi Beta Phi, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Delta Gamma, Gamma Phi Beta, and Delta Delta Delta to meet in Chicago, and thus formed the NPC. This was the first intergroup organization on college campuses, and Panhellenic has made a huge impact on the Greek world! Now NPC consists of 26 sororities, seven on which are at Christopher Newport University (as of 2017). Alpha Phi is also a part of the Syracuse Triad, which they share with Gamma Phi Beta. Meaning they were both founded at Syracuse University.
4) Alpha Phi Alpha (fraternity)
Some pretty famous and amazing men from history have been Alphas. Some of these names include Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglas, and W.E.B. Dubois. Alphas are definitely huge names in the formation of what America is today, and they continue to hold their members to expectations of excellence. It’s safe to say that CNU adores it’s Alphas. ;)
5) Alpha Sigma Alpha (sorority)
ASA has quite a few interesting facts! One of them, which they share with our Zeta Tau Alpha, is that their Alpha chapters (meaning, their first ever chapters) are in Virginia! They’re both from Longwood University, which is a not so short but quite beautiful drive from Christopher Newport. Another interesting fact about ASA is that they actually formed another conference of women, called the Association of Pedagogical Sororities with Sigma Sigma Sigma. Eventually, the asked to join the National Panhellenic Conference but were rejected. Why? Their president was breaking a rule that disqualified them. Their national president at the time, Ms. Ida Shaw Martin (author of the Sorority Handbook), was a duel member of both Delta Delta Delta, and Alpha Sigma Alpha. NPC did not allow this, and rejected their request to join. They eventually joined as a full member under new leadership back in 1951.
6) Delta Gamma (sorority)
Most likely you’ve seen the hilarious and empowering movie Legally Blonde. But did you know that Elle Woods’ sorority, Delta Nu, was based off of Delta Gamma? In fact, the house used for the movie was inspired by the Alpha Nu chapter of Delta Gamma, located at the University of Southern California. This has been confirmed by the director of the film as well. So, Elle Woods is actually a Delta Gamma, which is pretty phenomenal I must say.
7) Delta Sigma Theta (sorority)
The women of Delta Sigma Theta are strong as hell and have been for quite a long time. One of their first public acts as an organization was to march in the Women’s Suffrage March of 1913. They were also the only black women’s organization to march in the rally. They showed their strength as an organization in the most public manner, marching for the rights of women, and specifically the racism and unfairness shown to women of color. They’re trailblazers and pioneers for women everywhere, and we have our own chapter at CNU!
8) Delta Upsilon (fraternity)
Did you know that DU is a non-secret fraternity? Have you ever heard of such a thing? Probably not. Sororities and Fraternities have coined the term “secret society” for generations now. Not Delta Upsilon. Their events, chapters, and ceremonies are public, and anyone can watch/be a part of them. They were the first non-secret fraternity, in fact, and started the Anti-Secret Confederation (ASC) with three other non-secret groups during their founding in 1847. They value honesty and openness, and their motto used for this back then was “Ouden Adelon” (meaning “Nothing Secret).
9) Gamma Phi Beta (sorority)
Did you know that Gamma Phi Beta was the sorority that coined the term “sorority”? Prior to GPhi doing this, sororities were simply called “female fraternities” or “secret societies for women”, etc. However, Dr. Frank Smalley, a professor at Syracuse University who assisted in helping the sorority form, coined the term for them. The idea began when their advisor, a Latin professor, thought the term fraternity did not fit the group of ladies at all and thought they should create their own word for their body of sisterhood. Thus, the term “sorority” was used and has had a lasting impact on Greek Life ever since.
10) Kappa Delta Rho (fraternity)
We love the men of KDR, but did you know that there’s a co-ed chapter? In fact, it’s their Alpha Chapter at Middlebury College! In 1989, a policy against single-sex organizations was enacted, and the fraternity had two options; become co-ed or disband. As the Alpha chapter, disbanding was not an option, and thus the fraternity became co-ed. KDR is the only fraternity within the NIC (North-American Interfraternity Council) to have such a chapter.
11) Kappa Sigma (fraternity)
Kappa Sigma has quite a few things going for them. For one, they were founded at the University of Virginia, another nearby (ish) college to CNU! They’re also one of the biggest fraternities in the United States, and pride themselves on the massive growth they’ve had since their founding. However, a really interesting fact about Kappa Sig is that one of their members, Dr. Irvine Grote, invented Rolaids. There’s been lots of successful Kappa Sigs, but this one is definitely an important one. Thanks for the Rolaids, Grote!
12) Phi Mu (sorority)
As we’ve already touched on, Phi Mu is Macon Magnolia Sisters with Alpha Delta Pi, but did you know they’re the second oldest sorority as well? They were only founded a year later than ADPi in 1852! But a really cool fact about Phi Mu is that they love to celebrate mothers. In fact, Phi Mu designed a pin called the “Mother’s Pin” that can be presented to the mother of Phi Mus. In 1934, 11 mothers were presented with the first edition of the pin. Talk about a cute mother’s day present!
13) Pi Kappa Alpha (fraternity)
Kappa Sig and PIKE also share their home location, The University of Virginia! Also, Jim Parsons, the guy who plays Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, is a brother of Pi Kappa Alpha! He became a member when he attended the University of Houston. He was a part of the Epsilon Eta Chapter and graduated in ’92. There’s also quite a few famous Pikes, including Tim McGraw and Jon Stewart. Seth Rogen just got initiated as an honorary member of Pi Kappa Alpha. The Chapter of Pike raised money for his charity, and Rogen decided to become an official memebr!
14) Pi Lambda Phi (fraternity)
One of the core values of Pi Lambda Phi is that they accept all men regardless of race or religion, something that was uncommon of fraternities back in the day. Their founders started PiLam after being rejected by other fraternities for their religious beliefs and their race. Thus, PiLam became the first non-sectarian fraternity in the United States. Even at CNU, PiLam strives to promote inclusivity and diversity.
15) Psi Upsilon (fraternity)
Psi U is definitely one of the oldest fraternities in the books, but they’re also credited with doing a lot of firsts in the fraternity world. They credit themselves for this reason with setting the pace of the fraternity movement that went on during the 18-1900s. Psi U is credited with having the first fraternity convention (1841), printing a membership catalog (1842), printing a fraternity history (1843), printing a fraternity songbook (1849), and issuing the first fraternity magazine (1850). They set the bar quite high for other organizations, including the sororities who adopted similar practices!
16) Sigma Phi Epsilon (fraternity)
SigEp probably has the closest Alpha chapter, which is located at the University of Richmond. What makes SigEp so damn awesome though, is that in December 2014 they were the first fraternity in the NIC to accept transgender men as members. The vote was unanimous and made history in the fraternity world with this new step towards diversity within fraternal life. SigEp pioneered 21st century inclusivity, and continues to promote their values of Virtue, Diligence, and Brotherly Love.
17) Zeta Phi Beta (sorority)
While Zeta Phi Beta is fairly low key on campus, they’ve made a huge impact on the Greek Community. This group of women was the first sorority ever to start a chapter in Africa (Monrovia, Liberia to be exact), and has since gone worldwide. They’re also the first and only sorority in NPHC to be constitutionally bound to a fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma. This began when one of their founders had a conversation with a Phi Beta Sigma, who expressed a desire to help create a sorority to exist alongside that fraternity specifically. And thus, Zeta Phi Beta was born.
18) Zeta Tau Alpha (sorority)
Zeta shares with ASA that they’re a part of the “Farmville Four”, meaning they were both founded at Longwood University along with Sigma Sigma Sigma and Kappa Delta. What is interesting about Zeta is how strawberries became a symbol of the sorority. Back during it’s early days, Mary Campbell Jones (an early member) was sent a basket of strawberries from one of her admirers. It was the inspiration for the first Zeta social, and their social was called the “Strawberry Fest”. From then on, it was a symbol of Zeta Tau Alpha. How sweet!
*BONUS* Lambda Chi Alpha (fraternity)
Lambda Chi has officially colonized at CNU, and we are so excited to see what they do on campus. But what do we know about them? Lambda Chi Alpha is one of the biggest fraternities in the United States, and is actually the first fraternity to abolish the pledge process. Instead, members are considered Associate Members and have all the same rights as any other brother other than they cannot vote on anything regarding the Initiation Ritual. Some other fraternities have followed this example, allowing their new members to now wear hard letters, vote, and hold leadership positions prior to initiation. We are looking forward to what all Lambda Chi does for the University, and how they’ll make a name for themselves in CNU’s Greek Community!
What sororities/fraternities do you want to see on campus? Leave your ideas in the comments section below!