Fraternities You’ll (Probably) Never Visit

22 12 2008

So, Cornell is a campus that has had firm roots in Greek Life (one of the reasons why it is a frequent topic of discussion in this blog). Occasionally, you’ll look at an older campus map or even the current edition and notice some Greek houses you’ve never even heard of.

During the summer, I made an effort to write an overview all the IFC chapters (which I think was a successful endeavor). However, I also mentioned Omega Tau Sigma, mainly because I liked their house (I’m a sucker for tile roofs).


As I cited previously, Omega Tau Sigma is a professional fraternity for veterniary students, with the house essentially functioning as a co-op.

A second example of this would be Gamma Alpha of Cornell. This was one of the two random Greek houses in Collegetown, with Gamma Alpha located at 116 Oak Avenue. Gamma Alpha is a professional fraternity for biological science graduate students [1]. I’m afraid I don’t have a picture of this one on me, but the house dates from the late 1800s.

The other Greek organization listed in Collegetown is Alpha Psi. Located at 410 Elmwood Avenue, I’ve had a damned hard time trying to locate any information about this organization, but it would appear that they are another professional veterinary fraternity that was founded at Cornell in 1907 [2].

Then, of course, we have fraternities that have long since left Cornell. I decided to explore part of this by using the 1928 Cornell Map, since my previous “where are they now” dates from about 1970, so I’m approximately covering the span between the two . Here’s the link to the 1928 map if you care to follow along:

Sigma Kappa Sorority (150 Triphammer) – discussed in an earlier entry, but long story short, closed in the mid 1950s, operated as Chi Gamma for a short while and eventually became the Triphammer Coop.

Eleusis (313 Wait) – Also covered in a previous entry. Local fraternity that would become part of Theta Kappa Nu in 1934/35, and merged with Lambda Chi Alpha in 1939.

Theta Kappa Phi (201 Heights Court) – The initials were tongue-in-cheek for “The Catholic Fraternity”. Founded at Lehigh in 1919, the Cornell chapter was established sometime in the 1920s. The Cornell chapter had closed by the time the national merged with Phi Kappa (another Catholic fraternity) in 1959 to become Phi Theta Kappa, which still operates on college campuses today [3].

Scorpion (105 Westbourne Lane) – Established in 1914 at Cornell [4], moved to Westbourne Lane in 1927. After the original Tau Kappa Epsilon closed due to the depression in 1936, Scorpion became the replacement Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter in 1940.

Delta Zeta (200 Highland Avenue) – This sorority still exists today with 158 chapters [5]. They were established at Cornell in 1908, and held an annual convention here about a decade later [6]. Delta Zeta closed in 1932, one of several organizations that shut its door during the Great Depression.

Rho Psi (212 Fall Creek Drive) – Established in 1916 as a Chinese fraternity. Closed in 1931. Article suggests Cornell’s Alpha chapter might have been the only one with a house. No chapter exists anywhere today. [7]

Delta Sigma Phi (210 Thurston Avenue) – The Theta chapter of Cornell was installed in 1907 [8]. The chapter went inactive during World War II. Their national still thrives today (notably, during its time at Cornell, the national fraternity wrote a Christian-only clause, thus formally excluding Jewish students. The policy would not be repealed until the 1950s).

Omicron Alpha Tau (934 Stewart Avenue) – According to Marianne Sanua, author of “Going Greek: Jewish College Fraternities in the United States”, Omega Alpha Tau was founded in 1912 at Cornell and was known as “the most Jewish” of fraternities, strictly maintaining a Kosher kitchen. The fraternity closed amid financial troubles in 1934. (Sanua, pg. 79)

Phi Delta Sigma (The Knoll) – A local fraternity that became a chapter of Phi Kappa Tau in 1930. Their Corporation Board is still called Phi Delta Sigma.

Sigma Phi Sigma (103 McGraw Place) – A local fraternity founded in 1910 that merged with Scorpion TKE in 1941 [4].

Sigma Upsilon (636 Stewart Avenue) – The most I can find suggests it was a literary honors fraternity [9]. However, according to Cornellians from that time period (1927, 1931, 1933, 1934), it was an independent fraternity founded in 1915, and closed permanently around 1933.

Phi Alpha (1953-1960), Phi Epsilon Pi (1911-1970) and Kappa Nu (1951-1963). Jewish fraternities that closed as a result of mergers. (Sanua 320).

Theta Alpha (618 Stewart Avenue) – Existed at Cornell from 1910 to the 1930s. A fraternity which had four chapters, including Alpha at Syracuse and Beta at Cornell (according to Baird’s Manual of 1920, pg. 374, and the 1927 Cornellian).  No chapter exists anywhere today.

Zodiac (515 Stewart) – A local fraternity established in 1904. According to ATO’s website, after an unsuccessful run with another national, the fraternity merged with Alpha Tau Omega in 1936 [10].

Phi Sigma Delta (102 Edgemoor Lane) – When Delta Sigma Phi began to “blackball” Jewish rushees, the disenchanted decided to get even by starting a rival fraternity for only Jewish men (note that their initials are Delta Sigma Phi’s only backwards). Cornell’s chapter was founded in 1912. The organization lasted until the mid-1950s, and in some sense evolved into Young Israel, now the Center for Jewish Living [11].

Beta Psi (505 Dryden Road) – Established in 1920. Apparently was a social fraternity, though no students in CAS. Closed by late 1934. Had four other chapters. This fraternity no longer exists.

Phi Delta Mu (301 Eddy Street) – Founded in 1925 as the Zeta chapter.  Alpha chapter of this Jewish social fraternity was at the City College of New York. There were eight other chapters before this one closed around 1934. It would appear this fraternity no longer exists today.

Iota Alpha Pi – A historically Jewish sorority that founded its Cornell “Beta Delta” Chapter in 1966. After the dismantling of Christian-only clauses in larger sororities, the chapter saw a rapid decline of its fortunes and the national, as well as the chapter, ceased to exist after 1971 [13]. The sorority was originally founded as J.A.P. (fanning the flames of Jewish girl stereotypes for years to come), but changed to Greek lettering shortly after its founding.


[2]  (page 6-14)














One response

7 02 2014
News Tidbits 2/6/14: A Sorority Totally New To Cornell | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] that there are a number of sororities that used to have a presence at Cornell, it’s rather unusual to see a colonization rather than a re-colonization; Phi Mu […]

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