This article was published in the February 23, 1996 edition of The Phoenix.
It was written by Elizabeth Weber.

The Heyday of Swarthmore Fraternities

With the establishment of a new fraternity at Swarthmore, we thought we'd take a look back to the heyday of Swarthmore's fraternities--

By 1914, the fraternities of Kappa Sigma, Phi Kappa Psi, Delta Upsilon, Phi Sigma Kappa, and Tau Alpha Omicron, and the Sororities Kappa Alpha Theta, Pi Delta Phi, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and Delta Gamma were announcing their dozens of new pledges on the front page of the Phoenix each September, just as they would for the next few decades.

When the Women's Student Buildings, now known as Bond and the Lodges, were built next to Worth in 1925, there were 6 sororities: Chi Omega and Phi Mu had joined the list. Each sorority pledged $10, 000 to pay for the cost of a Lodge containing a kitchen, locker-room, living and meeting room, guest room for alumnae, and bathroom.

The 1929 Swarthmore songbook contained many fraternity and Sorority songs, including these gems:

Come Gather All Ye Merry Men
Come gather all ye merry men and drink a health with me
Unto the dearest thing we know the old fraternity.
From east, from west, from sea to sea, we come from near and far,
To drink to Kappa Sigma, and the Crescent and the Star.
To days agone we fare again, forgotten days and fair,
In dreams of dear old Swarthmore and the fellows gathered there.
As rises now before our eyes each well remembered scene
We'll drink to Kappa Sigma, and the Scarlet, White and Green.

I've Got a Little Phi Me Girl
I've got a little Phi Mu girl
Way down in sunny Dixie land
With eyes of snare me, dare me,
Oh do you care for me blue
As long as Grecian frats shall stand
She'll wear the golden heart and hand
And maybe, some day a frat pin.
I'll tell you that pin
Will make a stunning guard for her little Phi Mu pin,
Girls may come and girls may go
But she's the only girl for me, I know,
And when the children go to school
They'll follow Dad's and Mother's rule
And wear the badge that makes some jolly Greeks of them, too.

But sororities would not last much longer at Swarthmore. In November of 1931, the abolition of sororities was seriously proposed for the third time and final time. President Aydelotte issued a statement which read, in part, "When I came to Swarthmore in 1921 there were 153 members of Women's fraternities, constituting just over 60% of the women then in college; in this academic year of 1931-32 there are 228 members of Women's fraternities, constituting over 77% of the women now in college. The result is a situation which tends to be uncomfortable for the minority left outside."

By that January, three plans had been proposed: limiting the size of sororities, postponing membership until sophomore year, and the abolition of sororities on campus. The Phoenix threw its weight behind the third of these options in an editorial on January 12, but the decision ultimately lay with a committee of fraternity members, alumnae, and the Dean of Women. In March of 1932, this committee decided to stop pledges to sororities. There was no mention made of banning men's fraternities.

Indeed, the golden age of Men's fraternities at Swarthmore was still far from over. The October 9, 1934 Phoenix carries an item that would horrify most of today's Swarthmore students: a listing of the average GPA of each fraternity on a 3 point scale. (Honors students were assigned a GPA based on their freshmen and sophomore year grades

Theta Sigma Phi1.80
Women Students1.70
Non-fraternity Men1.69
Phi Sigma Kappa1.63
Phi Delta Theta1.55
Phi KappaPsi1.52
Delta Upsilon1.51
Kappa Sigma1.12

Notes: One of the Swarthmore fraternity chapters was thrown out of its national organization in the 1940s, when the Swarthmore chapter made strong statements disagreeing with the national organization's policy of not allowing Black Men to become members.

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