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Old 01-15-2008, 11:07 AM
oldu oldu is offline
GreekChat Member
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 303
two groups with the same name

Given the limited number of options for arraging the twenty-four Greek letters, as-well-as the restricted methods of communications 100-150 years ago, it is surprising that more organizations did not come up with the same name. It is a real challenge for a founding group today to find a name not already in use by a social fraternity or sorority, or some professional society.

Kappa Alpha had originally taken the name Phi Kappa Chi until they determined how confusing it would be with Phi Kappa Psi already on campus. Little did they know that up north another Kappa Alpha had already existed for forty years. It never became a serious issue because the southern group became known as Kappa Alpha Order and (until just recently) limited its growth to the south. The northern group became known as Kappa Alpha Society, expanded little and confined its chapters to Canada and the northeast U. S.

The Adelphean ladies at Wesleyan College originally chose Alpha Delta Phi as their Greek letter name until they discovered that there was a northern fraternity by the same name. They changed the Phi to Pi to avoid confusion. Their sister group at Wesleyan selected the name of Phi Mu unaware that at Elmira College (a ladies only institution in New York) a group had been using the name for twenty years. They may have never known of the duplication because the Elmira group died in 1911. Interestingly, also at Elmira, another group took the name Kappa Sigma! It too ceased to exist around 1911.

The Chi Phi fraternity that we know today is actually an amalgamation of three different groups by the same name. The first was founded at Princeton in 1854. Another Chi Phi group was founded at Hobart College in 1860. A third Chi Phi organization was founded at University of North Carolina in 1858. The first two groups, having lost most of their chapters during the Civil War, merged in 1867. All of their five remaining chapters were in the north. Following several years of negotiations, the northern and southern branched of Chi Phi were united in 1874, bringing the new fraternity a total of twenty active chapters. The early Baird's Manuals listing for Chi Phi distinguished the chapters by which of the original organizations they had belonged.

There are countless cases where a local society took the name of an already existing organization. The issue was usually resolved fairly expediently when they sought affiliation as a chapter of a national fraternity or sorority. However, there is a Sigma Pi at Illinois College that predates the national organization by more than sixty years. Delta Psi (a part of Delta Upsilon from 1850-1854) exists as a local at University of Vermont with no connection at all to the national fraternity of the same name. There is also a Phi Mu Delta at Carson-Newman College that predates by more than seventy years the small national fraternity by the same name.

Delta Phi Epsilon, an N. P. C. sorority and a professional foreign service fraternity, share the same name. This has never become a serious problem as the two organizations rarely cross paths to cause any confusion.

Of course, there is often much confusion when chapter designations duplicate a national fraternity or sorority name. Eyebrows rise when a young man says he is from Delta Gamma (meaning chapter) or a young lady proudly claims membership at Delta Chi!

There are probably other examples of name duplications that Greek Chat members can share with us.