Monday, March 16, 2015

Day 20: Happy Founders' Day!

I'd like to wish a very happy Founders' Day to my two favorite Greek-letter organizations, Delta Gamma and Phi Delta Theta! 

After Shane joined Phi Delta Theta and I later pledged Delta Gamma, I was pleased to learn that the two organizations had a bit of sweet shared history with Phi Delta Theta member George Banta, who is also the sole male initiate of Delta Gamma. Just take a look at this excerpt from the 1993 Winter edition of the Delta Gamma Anchora:
“A myth is a legend often based on some fact, and such is the Phi Delta Theta connection with Delta Gamma. In May 1878, 20-year-old George Banta was on a train returning to Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana, from a Phi Delta Theta Convention. He sat with Monroe McClurg and shared with him his concern over the fraternity political situation in Indiana, noting that Indiana needed another female Greek group. Brother McClurg agreed and offered a solution. In Oxford, Mississippi, where he was in school at ‘Ole Miss,’ there prospered a fine ladies’ group with a few other chapters in southern girl’s schools. The group was Delta Gamma, and Monroe McClurg was happy to put Brother Banta in touch with these young women.
"George Banta wasted no time in making contact with the Delta Gammas in Oxford, They, too, were eager for new expansion and invested him with the power to form chapters in academically well-recognized northern colleges. George Banta set about achieving their expansion goal, having been told to select the Greek letters of his choice for the new chapters. It was logical that when he organized the first northern chapter at Franklin College the Greek letter should be Phi, in honor of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. No doubt, the first initiate was his fiancée, Lillie Vawter."
We once visited the Phi Delta Theta headquarters on a trip to Ohio. My favorite part of the tour was seeing the set of china given to George Banta and Lillie Vawter at their wedding. I wish I'd taken pictures of it while we were there, but it was specially made with the Phi Delta Theta crest in the middle, with anchor and rope details around the edges (Delta Gamma's symbol is the anchor). 

While Phi Delta Theta and Delta Gamma were both actually founded in December, they both chose a date in March to celebrate Founders' Day. In fact, they chose the same day, the 15th of March. Today is the birthday of Robert Morrison, one of Phi Delta Theta's six founders. it also marks the founding of Delta Gamma's Eta Chapter at Akron, Ohio, in 1879.

Our experiences in Greek Life shaped our college years. Speaking just for myself, I learned a lot of valuable skills -- most notably my (relative) comfort with public speaking -- along with a crash course in leadership, friendship, integrity, and scholarship during my time as a collegiate member. I've some amazing lifelong friends. I also got some volunteer opportunities that I would've never thought of, and am so glad I was able to participate in. I saw Shane had a lot of great experiences on his end. I especially saw him grow and mature so much during his collegiate tenure, along with making another batch of lifelong friends. 

Shane and I didn't join our respective fraternities based on the history, but it does make it seem like it's meant to be. 

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