History of Greek Lettered Organizations in the U.S.
The first Greek-letter society came to be through a student who was refused admission to another organization at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1776. The man who was rejected from the organization was a Greek scholar. With four of his friends, Phi Beta Kappa was created as the first organization with Greek Letters for representation. It was an organization made to discuss controversial topics and made rules for each man to have space to give his opinion.
After two years, Phi Beta Kappa thought their mission would benefit other students through their higher education experience, as it was a space to prepare students for their future socially. Chapters were found at several colleges in the U.S. as time went on, Phi Beta Kappa became purely intellectual in its mission as its original principles were “literature, morality, and friendship.” During the 1830s, the secret meaning of the organization’s Greek name Phi Beta Kappa was revealed as “Filosofia Bion Kuberneques” or “Philosophy is the guide to life.”
Through time, Phi Beta Kappa, has become a scholastic honorary society that now recognizes men and women who as undergraduates, show academic achievement in over a 100 college campuses in the U.S. The original ideals of Phi Beta Kappa like secret handshakes, rituals, and a distinctive badge, and the use of Greek letters have been adopted by other Greek fraternities and sororities. These organizations also adopted missions of high moral ideals, scholastic advancement, and brotherhood/sisterhood relationships.
History of Fraternity and Sorority Life at UTEP
Alpha Phi Omega was the first fraternity on UTEP’s campus in 1919. Originally, it was an Engineering and Geology Social Fraternity. UTEP traditions like TCM day, a now campus wide celebration of history around St. Patrick ’s Day because St. Patrick is the patron Saint of Engineers. They were known for being involved on campus. APO today is now a co-ed service fraternity to build leadership development and provide service for UTEP and the Greater El Paso Community.
From the 1920s to the 1960s there were up to 14 different fraternities and sororities on UTEP’s campus. Different Panhellenic and Interfraternity Organizations were known to be active in school activities and intramural activities. Many of these organizations had houses in the El Paso area. The original Zeta Tau Alpha house and Lambda Chi Alpha house are still on campus today now as the Peter and Margaret de Wetter Center and the Honors House.
Today, organizations do not have houses on campus but they are still very active in other ways. Today’s chapters are very active through Homecoming, Greek Week, Greek Day of Service, and Project Move. Student leaders have chosen to invest in themselves professionally and socially. With the long history of Fraternity and Sorority Life at UTEP, the future is bright for students who choose to join Greek lettered organizations!
Timeline of Fraternities and Sororities on Campus
Tri Delta Sorority Inactive
Delta Gamma Sorority Inactive
Kappa Delta Sorority Inactive
1919- Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity Inactive
1938-Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority Active Today
1941- Chi Omega Sorority Inactive
1941- Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity Inactive
1946- Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity Active Today
1947- Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity Inactive
1949- Kappa Sigma Fraternity Inactive
1949- Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity Inactive
1951- Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity Active Today
1962- Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity Inactive
1967- Alpha Kappa Lambda Fraternity Inactive
1972- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Active Today
1991- Kappa Delta Chi Sorority Active Today
2003- Alpha Xi Delta Sorority Active Today
2003- Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority Active Today
2010- Alpha Sigma Alpha Sorority Active Today
2015- Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity Active Today
2016- Theta Chi Fraternity Active Today
2018- Phi Delta Theta Fraternity Active Today