Delta Upsilon has a very storied and prestigious history dating back to 1834. It is the sixth oldest fraternity and is the oldest non-secret fraternity in North America.
Its history began on the Williams College campus in Massachusetts. Two secret fraternities on campus had begun gaining power and using secrecy and their numbers to place members in campus offices – whether qualified or not. So it happened that on November 4, 1834, 30 men gathered together to forge a plan of action, and to fight for justice. These students openly published their constitution and made known their members and ideals. Others would soon follow.
In 1847, four chapters of anti-secret groups met at the Troy Conference to form the Anti-Secret Confederation, and the philosophy of these new social fraternities spread rapidly to many other colleges. While other fraternities wasted time with handshakes and keeping their rituals secret, DU fought to advance justice and spread liberal, learned culture.
In 1864 the nation was in turmoil and the Civil War had taken its toll on colleges across the country. Men from four colleges met at the Convention of 1864 and consolidated their leadership into much of what it is today. The convention formally adopted the name Delta Upsilon, which stands for Dikaia Upetheke – justice, our foundation. The DU badge was also adopted at this time.
In 1879, the fraternity began to change as men realized that the basic mission of anti-secrecy had been accomplished. DU changed its policy from Anti-Secrecy to Non-Secrecy.
Later, in 1898, Delta Upsilon became one of the first international fraternities in existence when the McGill Chapter in Montreal was established.
During World War I and II, DU fared very well and even continued to grow. In 1921, a trust fund was established, and had grown to over one million dollars by 1945. DU used this money to further expand into the South and West. It was during this expansion, in 1955, that the Kansas State Chapter was colonized. By 1962, DU had chartered chapters in 34 states and 5 Canadian provinces. An educational foundation was also started to provide scholarships to undergraduates in the fraternity.
Alcohol laws were changed in the 1970’s and it became legal for college-age men to drink. Some men began to misunderstand the meaning of social fraternity as merely a place to party rather than grow as men in society. DU was not immune to these forces, but it did not sit idly by. Delta Upsilon was the first fraternity to call for “dry rush” on campuses, even when alcohol was legal for college men. It also was one of the first to emphasize the dangers of hazing, and adopted a no-hazing policy.
Finally, the new International Headquarters of Delta Upsilon was established at Indianapolis, Indiana in 1971.