By Rachel Stengel
Information for this article was collected from Riderana, the University Archives.
During Rider’s 88-year history of Greek Life, students have participated in a lot of philanthropic work, helped members form life-long bonds, crossed the Delaware and crossed the line at times.
Rider’s Greek Life began with the formation of two social organizations and now comprises 8 percent of the campus population, according to Shannon Corr, director of Greek Life.
Greek Life was first documented at Rider in the 1924 The Shadow. Phi Sigma Tau was officially organized 1n 1924, as a women’s social sorority with nine members.
The founding president, Jean Dwyer, wrote in The Shadow that there was a void that needed to be filled in terms of social organizations.
“The purpose of our sorority is to foster a general college spirit, to encourage its scholarship and to promote social intercourse among women students,” she wrote.
Alpha Sigma Epsilon was also founded in ’24 as a social business fraternity to replace the Commerce Club.
“The reorganization was a result of the general feeling among the students that a Greek letter fraternity was desirable at Rider,” Paul Cranmer, one of the initial members wrote in the ’24 The Shadow.
Eta Upsilon Gamma, the former name of the current Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA), was founded in 1927.
ZTA was founded in April 1967. The sisters are still an active sorority on campus and support breast cancer awareness, research and education.
Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) was originally established in 1927 as an athletic fraternity, TKE received its official charter in 1931, as Phi Sigma Nu. Some of the founding members of Phi Sigma Nu include Rider’s first provost Leonard A. Olson and Dean Alexander R. Poyda.
The brothers began a Christmas Day tradition in 1947 when they reenacted George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware as part of the pledges’ initiation process. George (Washington) Chafey of Allentown, N.J., who dressed as Washington, led the pledges in their boats. The fraternity brothers dressed as the Hessians and began a pillow fight with the pledges in Trenton.
In 1956, Phi Sigma Nu became TKE. A series of issues led to the revocation of its charter in 1980. The final incident was a bonfire that contained a mattress, furniture, a telephone and charcoal, according to the article, “From our house to your house” by Dana Kilmer.
TKE was recolonized in 2008 and has remained at Rider since then. The brothers support the Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Theta Chi fraternity was originally chartered in 1929 as Kappa Phi and Alpha Gamma Upsilon. It was renamed Theta Chi in 1962 before losing its charter in 1990 after being on probation because of a drug incident in the house as well as “the practice of hazing, damages to the house and a low level of occupants in the house,” according to the article, “From our house to your house” by Dana Kilmer.
Sigma Iota Chi, the predecessor of Alpha Xi Delta (AZD) is first recorded in the 1948 The Parchment, the sorority’s publication. It became AZD on March 4, 1967. The sorority promotes the motto “Inspiring Women to Realize Their Potential” and supports Autism Speaks.
Before its recognition as Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity, it was originally established at Rider as the Social Order of the Bearcats in November of 1949. It then became Sigma Beta Chi in 1950 and was recognized as “the first local fraternity to be incorporated by the State of New Jersey,” according to the Inter Fraternity Council Handbook of 1960. In 1956 the fraternity was renamed Phi Sigma Epsilon. The fraternity lost recognition at Rider in 2001 because of “Social Code of Conduct violations including alcohol, harassment, vandalism and failure to comply,” according to the Rider website.
Zeta Phi Beta sorority was founded at Rider in 1954 and reorganized in 1996. Its founding belief was that “sorority elitism and socializing should not overshadow the real mission for progressive organizations — to address societal mores, ills, prejudices, poverty and health concerns of the day,” according to the official website. Zeta Phi Beta is still recognized at Rider and supports the March of Dimes.
In 1957, Zeta Beta Tau, formerly Sigma Phi Beta and Sigma Lambda Pi, was established at Rider. According to the Inter Fraternity Council Handbook of 1960, it was “the oldest and largest frat of predominately Jewish college men,” on campus at the time. Alcohol, assault and vandalism violations were cited as the causes for its loss of recognition in 2007, according to Rider’s website.
Delta Phi Epsilon (DPE) was formally known as Pi Eta Epsilon, Rho Lambda Phi, Sigma Tau Delta, Iota Alpha Pi and Iota Sigma before its establishment in 1962 as the Delta Sigma Chapter. The still-active sorority can be seen flaunting its purple and gold colors while supporting Cystic Fibrosis, Anorexia Nervosa and other associated disorders.
Phi Kappa Psi fraternity was chartered in 1965 and previously known as Alpha Sigma Epsilon and Delta Sigma Pi. It lasted 28 years at Rider before it lost its charter in 1993 after it “encouraged people to dress in mockery of African Americans,” according to the article, “From our house to your house” by Dana Kilmer.
Delta Zeta sorority went through two reincarnations (formerly Omega Chi Phi and Zeta Mu Epsilon) before being established at Rider on March 11, 1967. Delta Zeta lost its charter in 1988 because of “low enrollment, lack of popularity of Greek organizations and the chapter’s failure to live up to the standards set by the national,” according to Kilmer.
The sister of Delta Sigma Theta established their organization at Rider in 1972. The sorority was closed for a length of time, but re-founded in 2002; it is still active on campus.
Two students helped establish Phi Beta Sigma at Rider after attending an event at The College of New Jersey about minority fraternities. It was founded in 1979. In May 2007 it lost recognition because all of its members graduated.
Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, which was founded in 1980 is now on a “cease and desist after chapter members were suspended by the National organization,” says the Rider website.
After 23 years on campus, Phi Kappa Tau, which was established in 1986 lost its charter as a result of alcohol and hazing violations in 2007. This was the fraternity that Gary DeVercelly was pledging when he died in 2007.
Two Latin Greek organizations were founded in December of 1991 — Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity and Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority. Both are still active. The fraternity’s motto is “Chivalry above Self” and “En La Unión Está La Furza” (In Unity there is Strength) and its brothers support Funding for Families with Terminally Ill Children. The sorority supports Saint Jude’s and the March of Dimes.
The former Lions Athletic Association became Alpha Epsilon Pi in 1993. It lost its charter in December of 2008 because of its withdrawal of recognition by the National organization.
Phi Sigma Sigma was founded in 1994 and has remained active since. The sisters’ philanthropy is the National Kidney Foundation.
Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity received its charter in 2002. The brothers are still active on campus promoting their core values of “virtue, diligence and brotherly love,” according to the fraternity’s official website.
In 2004, Lambda Tau Omega sorority received full chapter recognition, but the chapter was dormant from spring to fall 2010.
The most recent addition to the Greek system was Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, which became recognized in 2007 by the Office of Greek Life Recognition Policy.