The merits of Swarthmore’s Delta Upsilon

As Swarthmore students return from March break, many are discussing the deplorable behavior at the SAE fraternity at the University of Oklahoma. For those unaware of the incident, a video surfaced of members of the fraternity  chanting racial slurs. Other SAE chapters have also been accused of racial misconduct. If these accusations are true, the SAE fraternity should take action, and those fraternity members who have done wrong should be held accountable.

The Swarthmore community can take pride that Swarthmore’s Delta Upsilon has set a model that should be followed by fraternities across the country. We would venture to say very few groups on campus contribute as much to the larger community as the Delta Upsilon fraternity. While many on campus associate us primarily with our role in facilitating the social scene, our impact is much broader than just that. The following are a few examples of our recent and upcoming campus initiatives:

  • Every year, we work with Maurice Eldridge ’61 to help to sign students up for the Red Cross blood drive. Thanks to impressive participation from the college community, our members are routinely able to fill all slots.

  • For the past two years, Delta Upsilon members have volunteered at All Riders Up, a local non-profit in Garnet Valley. ARU is owned by a Swarthmore alum and provides horseback riding lessons for the physically and mentally disabled. DU is now recruiting other members of the Swarthmore community to join in the trips to ARU.

  • In the Fall, we organized a Dodgeball Tournament to raise funds for Philabundance, a non-profit that serves meals to families in need. Fortunately, the tournament provided over 1,600 meals. We are now organizing a spring three-on-three basketball tournament, to be held March 27, and hopefully will raise around $1000 for All Riders Up.

  • Every fall, we volunteer at the Swarthmore Friends Meeting House to help them prepare their annual Jumble Sale. We also assist them with landscaping and join them in playground-cleaning to create a safe space for their children to play.

  • To commemorate Women’s History Month, DU has invited Jamie Stiehm (Swarthmore ’83) to speak about Swarthmore alumna Alice Paul and the women’s suffrage movement. This event will will take place in the AP dorm lounge on March 23. (Starts at 7, refreshments provided!)

  • Delta Upsilon has also taken important steps to combat sexual assault. Currently, we are partnering with the Title IX House in promoting the screening of Miss Representation and The Mask You Live In. The Mask You Live In illustrates how we, as a society, can raise a healthier generation of boys and young men. We also work with Nina Harris and Josh Ellow in annual workshops on sexual assault prevention, bystander intervention, and drug and alcohol safety.

A core tenet of Delta Upsilon is to “build better men.” Not only do our members help the community with positive conduct, but we also hold our members accountable for any misconduct. Our members are not perfect, but we are here to learn, just as all college students are. We believe that the actions of our organization clearly demonstrate our impact on the campus community.

Delta Upsilon will continue to do our part to make Swarthmore a vibrant, socially responsible, intellectually engaging, and, above all, safe space for all students. While we appreciate the support we receive from many on campus, we are frustrated that some members of the community choose to turn a blind eye to our positive actions, relying instead on assumptions that, since we post Greek letters on our house, we are no different from groups such as Oklahoma’s SAE. When we are mocked for, to quote from a recent poster circulated on campus, “turning young boys into perverted men brothers,” it alienates us from the Swarthmore community. We can come nearer to our shared goal of a civil and open community if more at Swarthmore emulate our example and support our positive actions.

Nat Frum is a member of Delta Upsilon. Brian Kaissi serves as Vice President and Scoop Ruxin as President.


  1. Worst case of online propaganda I’ve seen in a while. Just when I thought the Phoneix couldn’t get more annoying it had to go and prove me wrong.

  2. From someone around when DU first went to Philabundance and started helping out at the Friends Meeting House / playground, just wanted to drop a line and say proud of DU for keeping these events going! And adding new events! Getting a bunch of busy college students together to help the community is harder than people think, but always worth it. Great job.

  3. Oof… A bullet pointed list of your community service? In the article the week we come back from spring break after SAE? Disappointed.

  4. “We believe that the actions of our organization clearly demonstrate our impact on the campus community.” Oh look, there was one sentence in this article that i agree with!

  5. As someone who is a member of Greek life on campus, this article speaks clearly to me about the issues inherent in the “impact on the wider campus community” we try to have. In particular, I am looking at the mish-mash of random things that it seems the Greek groups do to have good PR in an attempt to seek good faith from the community.

    I do not mean to diminish the value of the work DU has done with these organizations and initiatives, but instead I feel that we (as in, all Greek organizations) would be better off in a different direction. If you ask the majority of people in any Greek organization, I guarantee that helping Philabundance or ARU are not their passion. For some, this may be the case. However, for many, we have our own passions and our own initiatives that we can put our hearts into. Would it not be better if the fraternities and sorority instead worked to foster these passions within their members and give brothers/sisters direction on the things they are much more likely to have a TRUE impact on? Having quotas for community service hours, working with a group you love, would potentially result in more impactful work all around. There are probably other ways we could do this but I’m just throwing an idea out there.

    An obvious rebuttal to the point above is that if everyone does the service they are passionate about, what is the point of the fraternity/sorority? Of course, therein lies the value and the argument for the collective and doing things together as we always have. But to me, there is no reason why an organization cannot collectively push its members to do good things. In fact, as I’ve said above, shifting our core view to something along these lines may be much more powerful.

    I’ve always been interested in seeing what people outside the frats think about this. Please be nice in your responses, though, as I have not meant to offend in any way here.

  6. Kudos to the author of this article! I wanted to thank you for speaking out about the often hated Greek life on Swarthmore’s campus. Although there have been faults within the fraternities, it is disturbing to see people point fingers and blame an entire group of students without realizing the fact that it is the individuals (not the entire group) in the fraternities that make the mistakes. With that being said, I appreciate that DU brothers are showing initiative to be more inclusive within the community. It is a shame to see comments that reflect the saying, “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?” Again, a label does not reflect the character of a person, and DU deserves a bit of recognition for their community agenda.

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