History of Coeducation in the Alpha Delta Phi

For those of us who haven’t consulted a Society Educational Manual for new members recently and may need our memories refreshed. Adapted from the History of Coeducation in the Alpha Delta Phi available in the Society’s Educational Manual and on the member-only pages of adps.org. Also look for Tim Smith’s BRN ’93 article in the Xaipe.

As the Alpha Delta Phi Society celebrates its 20th Anniversary, let’s take a look at its creation. The struggle to integrate women into Alpha Delta Phi started decades before the formalization of the Society.

In 1968, the Berkeley chapter first introduced coeducation into Alpha Delta Phi. Several chapters, including Middletown and Brunonian, soon followed. In the following years, Columbia, Bowdoin and Stanford also joined the coed ranks.

As more chapters began to accept women, coeducation became a contentious item in the International and at Conventions. In 1972, during the 140th Convention at McGill, the Berkeley chapter proposed an amendment to eliminate the all-male restriction from the Constitution, allowing women to become full members. The amendment was tabled, and Brother Robert Price, Kenyon ’58, was tasked with proposing a new solution.

Brother Cliff Stevenson, Brunonian ’74, approached Price asking how female pledges could become members of the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity. Price responded women could become “local” members, but not initiated into the Fraternity. This became adopted as the Brown Compromise for initiating women.

One Fraternity Brother, Edmund J. Frazer, Wisconsin ’37, wrote a letter that stated: “Dear Brothers: Coeducational membership in the Alpha Delta Phi? My God! NO!!! This would end us, and we would deserve extinction. What the hell is this? Did our founder work and die for this? NO. I will be OUT if this ever takes place. I have advised many people as a PR consultant. This proposal is SUICIDE! You may quote me.” However, this was allowed! And neither the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity nor the Society has gone extinct.

Many years of debate and conflict at Conventions ensued. In 1981, at the 149th Convention at Trinity College, the Trinity Compromise was adopted. This resolution allowed those “non-constitutionally qualified for membership” to be inducted as full members of a chapter and participate in the full initiation ceremony, as long as they did not hold constitutional office. Women could now be full members of individual chapters, but were only associate members of the Fraternity. Chapters immediately began circumventing the resolution, allowing women to serve as officers but submitting male names or creating new offices entirely.

In 1985, female members from the Middletown Chapter tried to attend a business session at the 153rd convention hosted by Berkeley. They were not allowed to attend business and Paul Neshamkin, Columbia ’63 called it the “worst defeat in years.” At the 1986 Convention, the Washington and Berkeley chapters presented a resolution dictating that any chapter initiating women after August 1990 could have its charter revoked.

A few years later in 1989, the option to split Alpha Delta Phi into two organizations gained traction. At the 158th Convention in 1990, a proposal was made to create two organizations connected by name and history. The Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity would consist exclusively of all-male chapters, and the Alpha Delta Phi Society would consist of coed chapters and any interested all-male chapters. The Washington-Berkeley resolution was delayed to allow the coed chapters to form a new organization.

Two years and countless drafts later by the “Five and Five” group, an acceptable “divorce” agreement was finalized. In August 1992, at the 160th Convention hosted by the Minnesota chapter, the “Agreement between the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity and the Alpha Delta Phi Society” was ratified. On the car ride back to the airport, Brother Robert McKelvey, Middletown ’59 and first President, outlined the new Society. Brother Timothy Smith, Brunonian ’93, was selected as the first Secretary.

The Brunonian, Columbia, Middletown and Stanford chapters signed on as members of the Society immediately after the ratification of the agreement. Bowdoin was inducted at the first Society Convention in 1993. In October 1997, a Society Constitution was approved at the third Society Convention hosted by Bowdoin. The Constitution was ratified in 1998.

In 1993, a group of students from Middlebury College in Vermont became interested in the Alpha Delta Phi Society and became an affiliate chapter. They became the sixth Chapter in August 1995, but unfortunately went inactive in April 2005.

In September 2007, a sophomore at the University of New Hampshire asked to start a chapter. In December, a group of students were recognized by their University as the first coed social Greek organization in the University’s history. They became the Granite Affiliate and recently became a full chapter of the Society.

In the past few years, affiliate chapters have also been started at Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, and Binghamton University. The Society continues to review possibilities for beginning other chapters and increasing its siblings.

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