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About Us: Organization History

More: About Us | The Preamble to the Constitution of DSP

As the door closed on the final moments of the nineteenth century, a handful of undergraduate men began meeting between classes at City College of New York. Some had known one another before they graduated from the New York public school system, and they had wanted to continue their friendships at City College. The obvious solution was to join a fraternity, but there was just one problem: This was no ordinary group of undergraduates. They were an affiliation of Jews and Christians; and, at the time, entry to all-Jewish and all-Christian fraternities was barred to individuals and groups that mixed religions.

Given that their close association challenged the conventional behavior of the day, perhaps it was only natural that the undergraduates took an even bolder step by founding their own Fraternity on December 10, 1899. Symbolized by the Greek letters Delta, Sigma, and Phi, the Fraternity was based on the principle of the universal brotherhood of man.

Uptown from City College at Columbia University, the second chapter was organized in 1901 but did not become a chapter until 1902. To differentiate the chapters, the first was called Insula, from the Latin insularis, since it was on the island of Manhattan. Because of its location in Morningside Heights, the new chapter was called Morningside.

Delta Sigma Phi was incorporated in New York City on December 2, 1902. Five members of Insula signed the incorporation papers, with the stated objectives of dissemination "the principles of friendship and brotherhood among college men, without respect to race or creed." The early organizers, including Meyer Boskey (Insula), also drafted Delta Sigma Phi's laws, requiring open membership to all college men of quality. The purpose of the Fraternity, written the same year, was "to fulfill the desire of serious young college men for a fellowship and brotherhood, as near a practical working ideal as possible not fettered with too many traditional prejudices and artificial standards of membership, by a clean, pure, and honorable chapter home life."

Although such principles later would invite problems, the basic concept of the Fraternity-embracing brotherhood and congeniality without regard to religion race-not only attracted other idealists as City College of New York, it set the stage for expansion onto other campuses.