As the nineteenth century was drawing to a close, a group of young men, who had grown up as friends in their New York City neighborhood and public schools, began attending the College of the City of New York. Upon entering CCNY, these friends soon discovered they could not join the same fraternity together because they were a mix of Jewish and Christian men. According to the social norms of the day, Jews and Gentiles did not interact socially and fraternities were part of a social structure that rigidly enforced this convention. Inspired by the coming dawn of a new century and desiring to strengthen their friendships with brotherhood, the men, loyal to each other and dedicated to spanning the social schism, decided to form their own fraternity, one that would grant membership to men of character, with the objective of disseminating “the principles of friendship and brotherhood among college men, without respect to race or creed.” Thus, Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity was founded at the College of the City of New York on December 10, 1899. The purpose of this nascent Fraternity was “to fulfill the desire of serious young college men for a fellowship and brotherhood . . . . not fettered with too many traditional prejudices and artificial standards of membership.” These were radical ideas when they were first put forward. And they live on today in the movement know as Delta Sigma Phi.
Establishment at The University of Texas
During the first several years after its founding, Delta Sigma Phi established additional chapters at major universities in the New York City area and surrounding states, bringing the total number to six. At this point, the Chapter Committee looked to expand to other regions of the nation. On May 9, 1907, a charter was granted for the seventh chapter, to be designated, in accordance with its order in the Greek alphabet, by the letter Eta. The charter was presented to a group of students at The University of Texas later that month at a ceremony and banquet at the historic Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin, thus establishing Delta Sig’s first chapter in the South and west of the Mississippi River in order to “do honor to both the Fraternity and to the University.” Since its founding, Eta Chapter has operated at The University continuously except for brief dormant periods during the Great Depression, World War II, and during much of the 1960s until it returned to the Forty Acres in 1969. In the more than a century of its existence, members from the UT chapter of Delta Sigma Phi have gone on to become state and civic office holders, physicians, attorneys, and leaders in a wide variety of other professions working in numerous fields of endeavor.
Delta Sig Today
Since its founding Delta Sigma Phi has been a leader in the college men’s fraternity movement, being at the forefront of numerous major milestones in the history of America’s college fraternities. During its existence, Delta Sigma Phi currently has established chapters at more than 200 campuses across the United States and has initiated over 120,000 men into its brotherhood. Eta Chapter at UT Austin continues to advance the time honored ideals established by Delta Sigma Phi’s founders by promoting friendship and brotherhood among college men without regard to race, ethnicity, or religion. Today, Eta is the third oldest active chapter of Delta Sigma Phi, behind only Beta at Columbia and Epsilon at Penn State. Eta Chapter is preeminent within Delta Sigma Phi, providing a legacy of leadership of our National Fraternity and the Delta Sigma Phi Foundation, including more National Presidents than any other Delta Sig chapter, and with many recipients of the National Fraternity’s highest awards. The UT chapter is part of Delta Sigma Phi’s mission to help and encourage its members to become better students, better leaders, better citizens, better professionals . . . better men.