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Alpha Delta Phi

Alpha Delta Phi

Alpha Delta Phi (ΑΔΦ), commonly known as Alpha Delt, ADPhi, or ADP, is a North American Greek-letter social college fraternity. Alpha Delta Phi was originally founded as a literary society by Samuel Eells in 1832 at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. Its more than 50,000 alumni include former presidents and senators of the United States, and justices of the Supreme Court.

The mission of the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity is to provide a comprehensive and positive personal growth experience for all undergraduate and alumni brothers: social, ethical, leadership, scholastic, community service, and literary.

Alpha Delta Phi
FoundedOctober 29, 1832 (1832-10-29)
Hamilton College
MottoManus Multæ Cor Unum (Many Hands, One Heart)
SymbolStar, crescent, sword, spear, escutcheon
FlagFlag of the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity.jpg
FlowerThe Lily of the Valley
Members1,300 collegiate
52,000+ lifetime
Headquarters60 S. 6th St. Suite 2800
Minneapolis, Minnesota,Minnesota
United States
WebsiteFraternity [21] , Society [22]


Portrait of Samuel Eells

Portrait of Samuel Eells

When Samuel Eells arrived on campus at Hamilton College, he found two existing literary societies, the Phoenix and the Philopeuthian, the latter of which he reluctantly joined. Eells quickly became disenchanted with both societies' unscrupulous recruiting tactics and dispassionately small sizes and considered creating his own society which would disavow what he described as jealous and angry competition between the two. Eells proposed to select members from both the Phoenix and the Philopeuthian and found a new society of limited membership based on "the loftiest of intellectual and moral ideals."[1]

On October 29, 1832, Eells gathered four other members, two from the Phoenix and two from the Philopeuthian, to a meeting in his room. The other men were Lorenzo Latham, John Curtiss Underwood, Oliver Andrew Morse and Henry Lemuel Storrs. At that meeting Eells wrote the constitution and he and Latham designed the fraternity's emblem and symbols. Later in the year, other members were added and the first chapter of the Alpha Delta Phi was in full operation by the beginning of 1833.[1]

Alpha Delta Phi was the first fraternity to establish a chapter west of the Appalachian Mountains when it formed a chapter at Miami University in 1832 in low back middle kirkland hall at Union college in New York. This chapter preceded the formation of three national fraternities at Miami University known as the Miami Triad in the years that followed.

The Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity is a charter member of the North-American Interfraternity Conference (formerly known as the National Interfraternity Conference; NIC). A Brother of Alpha Delta Phi, Hamilton W. Mabie (Williams College, class of 1867), was the first President of the NIC. The Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity is today still a member of the NIC; as a result of its decision to admit non-male-identifying members, the Alpha Delta Phi Society was not able to maintain membership in the NIC.

Alpha Delta Phi is both a social fraternity and a literary society. As part of this focus, the Samuel Eells Literary and Educational Foundation [23] makes educational grants and sponsors annual literary competitions, which award cash prizes.[2]

Nomenclature and insignia

The Badge

The Badge is an oblong slab with rounded corners, displaying on a shield of black enamel a white Crescent bearing the letters Alpha Delta Phi. Above the Crescent is a green Star with a gold center, and below is the date 1832 in gold. On the back is engraved a Monument with crossed Sword and Spear. In addition, the members initials and surname, chapter, and year of graduation appear on the back of the badge. The Badge is only to be worn with suit and tie attire. The Badge is properly worn over the heart with the horns of the Crescent pointing over the right shoulder.

The Crest

The Crest, which is the coat of arms, consists of the shield or escutcheon divided vertically in equal parts of green and white. It is bordered in black and studded with pearls. There is a small gold line between the center part of the shield and the border which has no particular significance except as a line of partition. On the shield in honor point are three Greek letters, horizontally aligned, alpha, delta, phi in gold. Above the shield is an esquires helmet in profile facing left with visor closed. Behind the shield is a Sword and Spear, both pointing upwards and both crossed saltirewise. Flanking the shield and issuing from the scroll on either side are two gold sprays of laurel leaved in gold. Beneath the escutcheon is a motto ribbon bearing the Latin phrase "Manus Multae Cor Unum", meaning "many hands, one heart". The whole escutcheon is radiant, meaning rays emanate from the top between the Spearpoint and Sword and base. There is a nimbus of very fine stars around the outer perimeter of the lower nimbus. Beneath the scroll is the date 1832.

Brothers-In-Arms Statue

The Brothers-in-Arms statue is a unique memorial to the 2,300 men of the fraternity, of Canada and the United States, who served in World War I, and especially for the 93 Brothers who made the supreme sacrifice.

Pledge Pin

The pledge pin is a shield divided vertically with the left half colored green and the right half colored white. Rules regarding the wearing of the pledge pin are established by each chapter.


University of Illinois chapter house, listed on the National Register of Historic Places

University of Illinois chapter house, listed on the National Register of Historic Places

In August 2015, the fraternity had 31 chapters and 3 affiliates, the oldest of which is at Hamilton College. Its regional alumni organization, the Midwest Association of Alpha Delta Phi, is more than 125 years old. Alpha Delta Phi also has the third oldest continuously-operating chapter in the North American Fraternity System, which is also the second oldest Alpha chapter, placed at Hamilton College.

At Yale University, it was mostly brothers of Alpha Delta Phi who were invited to join the university's top-ranked senior society Skull and Bones. Issues with the number of Alpha Delta Phis tapped for Skull and Bones also led to the creation of Yale's second society, Scroll and Key. Students at Harvard formed a chapter of Alpha Delta Phi but disaffiliated to form the independent final club, the A.D.

Cornell chapter

Alpha Delta Phi Chapter House, Cornell University (2002 Photo)

Alpha Delta Phi Chapter House, Cornell University (2002 Photo)

In 1877, the Cornell University chapter's alumni group built its first house for the undergraduates, which has been described as the "first house in America built solely for fraternity use."[3] The chapter has since moved to a different location on campus - into a house designed by John Russell Pope - but the original chapter house, designed and built by William Henry Miller, still stands.[4]

Dartmouth chapter

Alpha Delta Phi's Dartmouth College chapter was the inspiration for National Lampoon's Animal House.[5] The movie was co-written by Chris Miller and Doug Kenney. Miller based his writings on his own fraternity experiences at the chapter. The chapter was affiliated with Alpha Delta Phi from 1846 until 1969, when it broke away from the national organization and formed an independent one, Alpha Delta.[6]

Notable alumni

The Foundation

The mission of the 1832 Foundation is to solicit financial resources, provide faithful stewardship and engage in high quality ethical practices in support of the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity and leadership development. The foundation aims to leave a legacy which builds leaders of good character and well balanced men.

The Foundation is a self-governing, tax exempt corporation founded August 1961, under Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It accepts deductible donations from Alpha Delts and others and makes grants and loans to chapters, individuals, and institutions of higher learning. The grants are intended to promote intellectual interest or achievement with qualified educational and literary programs. The Foundation has its own Board of Directors and functions independent of but in communication with the Fraternity.

The Convention

The Convention is composed of one delegate elected from each undergraduate chapter and alumni organization, each delegate being entitled to one vote. Each August, the Convention is hosted at a different location and presided over by an Honorary Chairman, both of which are chosen by the Board of Governors.

The convention hears annual reports from the Governors, approves the International's budget, decides constitutional questions and has appellate jurisdiction over decisions of the Board of Governors and the Chapters.

Between the business and leadership training sessions, Conventions are characterized by considerable socializing. Brothers from all over the continent get acquainted, swap stories and songs, and raise a glass in the spirit of brotherhood. Whether as a voting delegate or as an observer, all brothers are encouraged to attend a Convention at some time.

Board of Governors

The Convention also elects the Board of Governors. There are eleven Alumni Governors, elected for three year terms, and a Student Governor elected annually. The terms of the Alumni Governors are staggered to provide continuity. There are other restrictions on who may be elected to assure that no region or chapter may dominate the Board.

The Board of Governors generally holds four regular meetings each year. One of these is at the Convention; others are held at various chapter houses in the fall, winter, and spring.

The Governors elect the President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. The President, with Board approval, may appoint an Assistant Treasurer and committee chairmen, who may or may not be Governors. An undergraduate Assistant Secretary is elected by the undergraduate delegates of the Convention. The Board of Governors appoints Regional Directors to coordinate activities of interest to nearby chapters and alumni organizations.

Hazing and controversy

In 1922, William Duncan Saunders died of a skull fracture and ruptured aorta when he was roughly flung from a bed during an incident variously described as horseplay. The Hamilton chapter of the Alpha Delta Phi was not implicated in his demise.[7]

On October 9, 1996, 18-year old William Price, a pledge at the University of Washington was paralyzed after falling from a third floor window of the Alpha Delta Phi house. Price remained hospitalized for five months. Despite the fact that Price claimed that he was not intoxicated, he admitted that him and other fraternity members consumed alcohol that evening, and that he could not remember how he fell. The fraternity was fined $1,100 for underage drinking.[8][9]

In the fall of 2001, the Phi Kappa chapter of the Alpha Delta Phi in Connecticut was put under probation after a serious hazing incident where a pledge had to be treated for burns on his legs. In March 2002, the chapter was shut down after they violated conditions of their probation which included not throwing parties and providing alcohol to other students. Sharon D. Herzberger, Vice President for Student Services, stated that the chapter had "an ample history of violations." [10]

In 2010, a pledge from the Cornell chapter revealed that they were forced to chug a slurry of dog food, tabasco sauce, and sour cream, and run relay races around the chapter house while intoxicated and being hit with dodgeballs by the active chapter. The pledges were also forced to run laps outside, nude in below-freezing weather.[11]

In November 2013, the Alpha Delta Phi house at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign was found to have over 50 safety violations after an initial inspection. Among many of the dangerous violations, investigators found broken windows, tripping hazards and expired fire extinguishers. Beer cans were found in the fraternity’s crawlspace, which is not meant to be used as a habitable space.[12]

In 2015, a female student of Duke University claimed that she was assaulted at an Alpha Delta Phi party after consuming a mixed drink which she claimed caused memory damage. The fraternity was placed under interim suspension.[13]

On April 14, 2015, Dartmouth announced that, Alpha Delta, previously a chapter of the Alpha Delta Phi, and inspiration of the 1978 movie Animal House was shut down indefinitely after it was discovered that they had branded the flesh of 11 new members. The fraternity was already under suspension for holding unregistered parties.[13]

In March 2018, the John Hopkins chapter of the fraternity was ordered to cease and desist social activities due to sexual assault allegations. The order was violated when members of the fraternity were found engaging in hazing practices and the chapter was then placed on interim suspension.[14]

In November 2018, members of the Alpha Delta Phi chapter at Duke University were accused of being unreasonably loud and messy along Chapel Hill Road in Durham, North Carolina. One homeowner filed a complaint to the local mayor, saying that the issues have been going on for many years and that attempts to resolve the matter have been unsuccessful. City leaders are currently investigating the case.[15]

The Society

The Fraternity is a retronym used now to distinguish the all-male Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity from the gender-inclusive Alpha Delta Phi Society (discussed below). In general parlance, the Fraternity refers to itself simply as the "Alpha Delta Phi"; the Society uses either the "Alpha Delta Phi Society" or "The Society".

Fraternity-Society Agreement of 1992

The Brunonian (Brown University) chapter first initiated women into its local membership in November 1973, and this was followed by a proposal at the 1974 national convention to either allow individual chapters to admit women or to do so fraternity-wide. This debate was often contentious, with most chapters opposed, and some members lobbying for full admission of women, but a larger number wanting to ban women altogether or grant them some form of associate membership. In 1992, at the Fraternity's 160th Annual Convention held in Brainerd, Minnesota, an agreement allowed five chapters to withdraw from the fraternity (the Brunonian, Columbia, Middletown (Wesleyan University),[16] Stanford and Bowdoin Chapters) and to allow those chapters wishing to be gender-inclusive to create their own organization, which resulted in the legal formation of two separate organizations, the all-male Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity and the Alpha Delta Phi Society, the latter of which granted each of its chapters "home rule" permission to determine its gender make-up.

Under the terms of this agreement, the Fraternity and the Society would be completely separate and independent legal entities, with separate governing bodies. The two organizations were not part of the same entity and did not share membership, except for male members of the Society who joined before 1992. Both groups would be licensees who share the Greek letters and intellectual property such as history and songs. The agreement put limitations on both organizations as to where they could have chapters, and there were limitations on the Society's use of the name "Alpha Delta Phi".

Fraternity-Society Agreement of 2017

On August 12, 2017, at the Fraternity's 185th Annual Convention held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Fraternity and the Society entered into a new agreement that replaced the Fraternity-Society Agreement of 1992. The new agreement maintained the original rights of the two independent and legally separate organizations to license and share the Greek letters alpha, delta, and phi, and other intellectual property. The new agreement removed all restrictions on the Society's license to use the name "Alpha Delta Phi Society." It also removed most of the limitations on where either organization could have chapters.

The Society as a national organization is gender-inclusive, and the Society continues to espouse "home rule" for its chapters, allowing them to determine their own membership rules. As of today, every Society chapter has been a gender-inclusive organization since at least the date of the Society's founding (for chapters that predate the foundation) or since the creation of the chapter (for newer chapters).

See also

  • Alpha Delta, former chapter at Dartmouth College

  • List of social fraternities and sororities


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