|Phi Delta Theta|
|Founded||December 26, 1848|
|Mission statement||The cultivation of friendship among its members, the acquirement individually of a high degree of mental culture, and the attainment personally of a high standard of morality.|
|Slogan||Become the Greatest Version of Yourself|
|Colors||Azure Argent |
|Patron Greek divinity||Pallas Athena and her Owl|
|Philanthropy||Live Like Lou (Lou Gehrig's disease) |
|Members||265,000  lifetime|
|Nicknames||Phi Delts, Phis|
|Headquarters||2 South Campus Avenue|
Phi Delta Theta (), commonly known as Phi Delt, is an international secret and social fraternity founded at Miami University in 1848 and headquartered in Oxford, Ohio. Phi Delta Theta, along with Beta Theta Pi and Sigma Chi form the Miami Triad. The fraternity has about 185 active chapters and colonies in over 43 U.S. states and five Canadian provinces and has initiated more than 251,000 men between 1848 and 2014. There are over 160,000 living alumni. Phi Delta Theta chartered house corporations own more than 135 houses valued at over $141 million as of summer 2015. There are nearly 100 recognized alumni clubs across the U.S. and Canada.
The fraternity was founded by six undergraduate students: Robert Morrison, John McMillan Wilson, Robert Thompson Drake, John Wolfe Lindley, Ardivan Walker Rodgers, and Andrew Watts Rogers, who are collectively known as The Immortal Six. Phi Delta Theta was created under three principal objectives: "the cultivation of friendship among its members, the acquirement individually of a high degree of mental culture, and the attainment personally of a high standard of morality". These cardinal principles are contained in The Bond of Phi Delta Theta, the document to which each member pledges on his initiation into the fraternity.
Among the best-known members of the fraternity are Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the United States, Adlai Stevenson I, Baseball Hall of Fame member Lou Gehrig, actor Burt Reynolds, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Neil Armstrong the first man to walk on the moon, and John S. McCain Sr., U.S. Navy Admiral and grandfather of John McCain.
In 1839, Beta Theta Pi was founded at Miami University in Ohio. In protest against the president of the university, members of Beta Theta Pi and another fraternity, Alpha Delta Phi, blocked the entrances of the main educational and administrative building in what became known as the Great Snowball Rebellion of 1848.
After the president expelled most of the students involved in the uprising, Phi Delta Theta was formed by six men staying in a dormitory the day after Christmas. Robert Morrison, a senior, proposed to classmate John McMillan Wilson that they form a secret society together; the two subsequently invited juniors Robert Thompson Drake and John Wolfe Lindley and sophomores Ardivan Walker Rodgers and Andrew Watts Rogers to join them. These men are known today as "The Immortal Six." The first meeting was held in Wilson's room at Old North Hall, now called Elliott Hall.
During the early meetings, the Founders wrote The Bond of Phi Delta Theta, which is the fundamental law of the fraternity. It has remained unchanged ever since, and it is believed to be the only document of any fraternity of such a nature. Morrison designed the shield form of the badge, with the eye as an emblem, while Wilson suggested the scroll with the Greek letters on it. The first branch of Phi Delta Theta was founded at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 1848. Fearing punishment from the university, the activities of the fraternity were sub rosa for its first three years of existence. Phi Delta Theta also took an unusual step, unique among all fraternities, of splitting into two chapters at both Miami and Centre College, so their meetings would be smaller and attract less attention. Eventually, as the organization attracted new individuals into their membership including prominent university officials, members began to openly wear their badges indicating their affiliation.
Phi Delta Theta held its first convention in 1851 in Cincinnati, Ohio when the organization had only four chapters. The event was attended by seven members. Despite the limited number, positive steps were taken for the establishment of new chapters by forming an expansion committee. It was also during the first convention where the chapter at Miami University was designated as the Grand Chapter whose duties were to oversee the overall fraternity operations. Subsequent conventions were held again in Cincinnati five years later; Bloomington, Indiana in 1858; and Danville, Kentucky in 1860. Another convention was held in 1864 in Bloomington during the American Civil War. The Civil War was difficult for all fraternities. Battles put fraternity brother against fraternity brother. Fifty Phis fought on the side of the Confederacy while 231 Phis fought for the Union Army.
It was not until the 1868 Indianapolis convention that the first steps in the creation of an overall administration took place. The convention was regarded as the first "National Convention" as permanent convention rules were adopted during this time. Twelve years later, the most important of all Phi Delta Theta conventions took place. The Indianapolis Convention of 1880 established new ritual, insignia, and customs that are still used today. Moreover, the convention saw the creation of the General Council, the governing body of the fraternity, with Walter B. Palmer, Emory-Vanderbilt 1877, and George Banta, Franklin-Indiana 1876, becoming the president and historian, respectively. The convention also called for the organization of groups of chapters into provinces, which were to be headed by province presidents.
A housing movement began to form during this time. The movement arose out of necessity because it was pointed out that chapter meetings were being conducted in rented halls. Even though the housing movement had been gaining momentum, it was not until the 1892 convention that a resolution was passed that advocated that all chapters rent or own at least one house. In the last two decades of the 19th century, over 50 chapter houses were acquired.
For a brief period a resolution was set forth to allow chapters to initiate women. First proposed in 1869, this was considered a radical idea both from a fraternal standpoint and social one as well since women were not allowed to vote until 1920. Although it was met with strong opposition, the issue would not be settled for several years.
During the two decades from 1870 to 1890, the growth of the fraternity was rapid, due principally to the efforts of Palmer and Banta. The two were given the title "Second Founders" for their work. In the 1870s alone, 34 new chapters were established, but this was also a period of uncertainty because of the anti-fraternity sentiment held by many faculty in schools where Phi Delta Theta had chapters. Several chapters became dormant because of this. The fraternity continued steady growth, and by 1889, there were 66 chapters in 27 states.
With constant expansion into the western United States, Phi Delta Theta became an international fraternity when the organization's first chapter in Canada, the Quebec Alpha, was installed at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec on April 5, 1902. By 1918, there were 78 chapters with a membership of 77,000.
At the outbreak of World War I, college administrators urged its undergraduate members to stay in school. However, many were eager to enlist. The first Phis to fight in the war were members of the chapters at the University of Toronto and McGill University, the fraternity's only Canadian chapters during that period. By the time the United States entered the war in 1917, over 5000 Phis served in the conflict with 155 of them losing their lives. Because many of the undergraduate Phis put their studies on hold, many chapter houses either had limited occupants or none at all. To prevent losing houses pending the return of Phis from the war, many housing corporations consented to having the houses used as barracks or for YMCA programs.
During the 1920s and 1930s, expansion was carefully controlled. Focus was placed on re-activating chapters whose charters were revoked years earlier.
World War II exacted a heavy toll on the membership and operations of the fraternity. Many undergraduate members joined the military, and 13 chapters were closed. As active membership declined, most of the Phi Delt houses were used as women's residence halls or became makeshift military quarters. The fraternity tried its best to maintain up-to-date records regarding the status of members engaged in combat. A newsletter, The Fighting Phi News, was sent to members whose contact information was known to the fraternity.
Over 14,000 Phis were known to have been in active service during the conflict. Of that number, over 800 were killed or missing in action, the largest loss of any fraternity during the war. An additional 8,000 veterans were initiated into the fraternity in the immediate subsequent years. Fifty Phi generals and admirals served in the United States and Canada during the conflict, the most for any fraternity. Prominent among them were General Edward P. King, leader of the U.S. and Filipino forces in Bataan, Philippines; Admiral Robert L. Ghormley, commander of the Guadalcanal campaign; and Admiral John S. McCain, Sr., commander of carrier task forces in the Pacific. Members of Phi Delta Theta also received every major military decoration in both the United States and British Commonwealth forces, including the Medal of Honor (MOH) awarded to Leon Vance of the Army Air Corps and the Victoria Cross (VC) to Robert Hampton Gray, a Canadian naval aviator. Vance's MOH was the last to be awarded before the D-Day landings, and Gray was both the last military personnel to receive the VC in the war and the last Canadian to lose his life during the war.
Hilton U. Brown, past president of the fraternity speaking on the participation of Phis in WWII
Members of the fraternity also played a crucial role on the homefront. Among those were Elmer Davis, the head of the Office of War Information; Byron Price, the head of the Office of Censorship; and Ted Gamble, the National Director of the War Finance Division.
When World War II ended, the fraternity experienced a surge in membership as many veterans attended college under the GI Bill. On December 15, 1945, the groundbreaking of the present-day General Headquarters building took place. One of the features of the headquarters was a permanent war memorial honoring all Phis who lost their lives during WWII and previous wars.
After the end of World War II, the fraternity was confronted with the social changes sweeping college campuses in the United States. Like many fraternities, Phi Delta Theta had a restrictive clause barring membership to African-Americans, Asians, Jews, and Muslims. Specifically the term "white persons of full Aryan blood" was the subject of strong opposition among many members in light of Nazi ideology in the recently fought war, although there had been dissenting voices regarding this long before the clause became controversial among its members. This clause was added to the Code of Phi Delta Theta in 1910. However, by the 1946 convention there was an open discussion regarding this topic. Impassioned sentiment from many alumni as well as undergraduates coupled with the changing demographic of the college scene caused Phi Delta Theta to re-examine its membership. Years of debate followed; however, by 1954, Phi Delta Theta eliminated the clause and became one of the first fraternities to eliminate any restriction based on race, color, or creed. Only a year earlier, Phi Delta Theta had suspended its chapters at Amherst and Williams College for pledging minorities.
The 1950s saw a period of rapid growth and an expansion of the internal operations of the fraternity. Twelve new schools were granted chapter status. An important change in leadership also occurred during this time. In 1955, Paul Beam, the executive vice president of the fraternity (the head of the fraternity's daily operations) unexpectedly died. He had succeeded the position from Arthur R. Priest who had served 1923-37. Beam guided the fraternity through eight conventions and through the trials of World War II. Bob Miller, who was Beam's assistant, was eventually chosen to take over by the General Council and assumed the office almost immediately. He would go on to serve for 36 years, which is currently the longest term served in that office.
Two important programs were developed during this period that would profoundly affect the fraternity's services. Before Beam died, he and several province presidents proposed a leadership convention for undergraduate members. These conventions would cover topics ranging from chapter organization to effective leadership. The first such convention was set up in 1956. At the time, it only involved 16 chapters. From 1956 until 1987, these sessions were held on a regional basis. The gatherings would form the basis of the Leadership College founded in 1987. 1958 was an important year for the fraternity because an educational foundation was created, the main purpose of which was to provide scholarships to deserving students.
During the turbulent 1960s, Phi Delta Theta along with other social fraternities dealt with strong anti-fraternity sentiment from people who saw the Greek lettered communities as old world established institutions. This sentiment was not without reason. Although Phi Delta Theta attempted to revise its restrictive membership codes in the wake of World War II, as late as 1961 the national office made headlines by rejecting the pledge of a Jewish student at Lake Forest College. Later that same year the University of Wisconsin banned Phi Delta Theta from campus for barring Jews, African-Americans, and other minorities from membership.
Despite an overall decline in fraternity membership during the late 1960s, Phi Delta Theta continued to expand through a carefully controlled process known as "colonization." In 1968, a historic initiation took place when Robert Wise, Academy Award winning director of The Sound of Music and West Side Story, was initiated in the Franklin College chapter. Wise had completed all membership requirements in 1932 but was forced to withdraw from college due to a lack of funds. Roger D. Branigin, the Governor of Indiana at the time and Phi Delt member, presided over the ceremonies. 1969 was an eventful year for the fraternity as Neil Armstrong, a graduate from the Purdue University chapter, became the first man to walk on the moon. During the moon landing, Armstrong carried with him a fraternity badge, which he subsequently donated to the General Headquarters of the fraternity. He also donated a small silk flag of the fraternity, which he carried with him on his Gemini flight in 1966.
As war raged in Vietnam, Phis again served in the armed forces. With the emergence of new technology, a significant percentage opted to become fighter pilots. The Vietnam War saw a small dip in the Fraternity's membership; however, by 1972, the fraternity had 140 active chapters with over 128,000 initiates. An important change was made during the 1970s that gave more autonomy to chapters in terms of membership selection. An amendment was passed wherein the unanimous vote rule to allow a college man to become a pledge was changed to allow individual chapters to decide on their own which method best suited their respective chapters. In 1973, the fraternity celebrated its 125th anniversary. The special occasion was marked by the construction of the university gates at Miami University. To date, there are nine buildings on the campus that were either constructed by Phi Delta Theta or named after members.
The 1980s saw the fraternity deal with issues such as hazing, rising insurance costs, and maintenance of individual chapter operations. The unofficial theme of the 1980 convention was "Eliminate Hazing." The decade was marked by an increase of lawsuits dealing with hazing and alcohol abuse among many fraternities. To deal with this issue, Phi Delta Theta instituted a comprehensive insurance policy to protect its chapters. During the 1980s, an important aspect of the fraternity was created: Leadership consultants. The consultants, who are recent college graduates, travel to assigned provinces and assist various chapters in many aspects of fraternity life and chapter operations. They also report the status of each visited chapter to the general headquarters.
An important leadership change occurred in the beginning of the 1990s when Robert Biggs became the fourth executive vice president of the fraternity after Robert Miller stepped down. During the decade, Phi Delta Theta and many other fraternities experienced a decline in membership. The most important policy to be implemented by the fraternity during the decade was the decision made in 1997 to have all chapter facilities alcohol free by 2000. It was an initiative that was strongly pursued by the 1996-98 General Council. The policy was in response to the growing insurance claims against the fraternity, 53% of which were alcohol-related, and a return to the core values of the organization.
All powers of the fraternity, both legislative and supreme, rests within the General Convention. The convention is a biennial event attended by representatives of undergraduate chapters, alumni chapters, and the various foundations. The purpose of the convention is to discuss and vote on a wide range of issues affecting the fraternity. The convention is held in various cities across North America. It is also during the convention where the General Council is elected.
The General Council is the governing body of Phi Delta Theta. Its all-volunteer membership are elected every two years during the fraternity's convention. Their chief responsibility is to act as the executive and administrative board of the fraternity. Their duties include the granting and suspending of charters.
The General Headquarters (GHQ) is responsible for the daily operations of the fraternity. Among its many duties, GHQ collects dues, distributes supplies, and tries to maintain up-to-date information about all its members. Unlike other entities within the fraternity, the staff of GHQ are paid for their services. While the main offices of GHQ are held by members of the fraternity, support staff need not be members. The head of GHQ is the executive vice president, who acts as the secretary to the General Council.
Phi Delta Theta and many other fraternities have an educational foundation fund. Part of the Phi Delta Theta foundation's aim is to award scholarships to deserving undergraduate members and those pursuing advanced degrees in various graduate schools. Each year, it provides over $150,000 in scholarships. The foundation is also essential in supporting programs such as the Emerging Leaders Institute, the Leadership Consultant Program, and portions of the General Convention as well as The Scroll, the official magazine of the fraternity. The foundation, which was established in 1962 with only $4,708, has since grown to over $14 million.
In 2004, the fraternity began a member development program for undergraduates called The Accolade. It is designed to enhance a member's collegiate and overall fraternity experience. Some of the program's personal development activities include goal-setting, time management, and career development. Although the program is intended for new undergraduate members, it is available to all members, including senior members and alumni. Although Phi Delta Theta is no longer part of the North American Interfraternity Conference, the fraternity was recognized by the conference for "Best Use of a Foundation Grant" for its support of The Accolade.
The Kleberg Emerging Leaders Institute (Kleberg) is an annual event held at the Fraternity's headquarters during the summer where newly initiated undergraduates are given instruction in leadership classes, as well as participating in programs that help to improve their respective chapters. It is attended by selected undergraduates from every chapter. It is mainly geared toward newly initiated members. The Institute was established after the Leadership College was dissolved. The event was renamed in honor of Tio Kleberg, Texas Tech '69 after a one-million dollar donation in 2012.
For many years, Phi Delta Theta had no official philanthropy. The fraternity, however, was long associated with the ALS Association (ALSA) because of Lou Gehrig, an alumnus who died of the disease. Amytrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a debilitating neuro-muscular disease and has since become known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Although there had always existed a relationship between ALSA and Phi Delta Theta, it was not until November 2002 that the General Council made the partnership official. Undergraduate and alumni chapters from all across North America regularly organize events to raise money for research. In August 2017, Phi Delta Theta terminated its partnership with ALSA and elected to proceed with creating their own ALS-related charity. But now they have elected to work closely with the LiveLikeLou Foundation to succeed in leaving ALS better than they found it.
Phi Delta Theta, along with other Greek organizations, employ Leadership Consultants (LCs) to assist with undergraduate development. The LCs, formerly known as Traveling Secretaries and Chapter Consultants, help undergraduate chapters identify major problems and challenges. Then, along with chapter leaders, alumni advisors, and university officials, they develop plans and programs for solving them. LCs serve as liaison between the General Fraternity/GHQ and the chapters. The LCs also work to guide chapter members to realize leadership and achieve, more fully, the ideals, objectives, and values of the fraternity.
The Scroll of Phi Delta Theta is the official magazine for members of the fraternity. The award-winning magazine has been published continuously since 1875. It is the second oldest continuously published fraternity magazine behind the official magazine of Beta Theta Pi, which was first published three years before. Members receive lifetime subscriptions to The Scroll. The magazine covers topical issues relating to Phi Delta Theta and the wider fraternity world, news of prominent alumni, alumni club meeting reports, and undergraduate chapter reports. While its focus is Phi Delta Theta, readership is open to non-members. Since its inception, issues have been published 2-4 times a year.
The Palladium was the private magazine specifically for members of Phi Delta Theta. Unlike The Scroll, the Palladium was intended to be read by Phis only. The magazine covered topics such as fraternity policy, reports, and minutes to any conventions. It was published only once a year and was a supplement to the winter edition of The Scroll. The first issue was printed in 1894 and the last issue was released in the mid-1960s.
The first three pledge manuals of the fraternity were written by Walter B. Palmer. The idea for the manual was conceived by J. Marshall Mayer (City College of New York, 1884), who at the time was the managing editor of the Scroll. The first pledge manual was printed in 1886 and contained only 56 pages. Since few copies were published and it is the first membership manual of any fraternity, it is regarded as one of the most rare and valuable books of its kind. The 4th-6th editions were authored by Arthur R. Priest. Much of the present-day material is derived from these editions.
Phi Delta Theta has played a major role in the fraternity movement. Chief among these was being a founding member of the North American Interfraternity Conference, which was established in 1910 (an organization that they subsequently left in 2002), and leading the initiative to ban alcohol from Phi Delt houses. Throughout their history, the fraternity became a pioneer in establishing traditions as well as having individual members shape the formation of similar women's organizations. The fraternity has also been the first fraternity to establish itself on over 25 campuses.
The Kappa chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) was formed at Miami University after disagreement among Phi Delta Theta members over prohibiting alcohol. Several members left Phi Delta Theta and formed the Kappa chapter in 1852. In 1854, two years later, another disagreement in this group led to another break-away. A schism over who would become Poet for the Erodelphian Literary Society led to the founding of Sigma Chi in 1855.
Two chapters of W. W. W. Fraternity (also known as Rainbow Fraternity) refused to join with other chapters of their fraternity in merging with Delta Tau Delta in 1885. Instead, the University of Texas chapter merged with the Phi Delt chapter there, and the Southwestern University chapter became a new chapter of Phi Delta Theta.
Started as the Knights of Classic Lore, Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) attempted to become the re-activated Illinois Epsilon chapter of Phi Delta Theta at Illinois Wesleyan University. After several failed attempts from 1902 to 1907, the Tekes decided to discontinue attempting to become part of Phi Delta Theta, and instead go it on their own.
Charles Lamkin, a former international president of Phi Delta Theta, was instrumental in the formation of a new national fraternity called Theta Kappa Nu in 1924, and in recruiting some 30 local fraternities to become chapters of Theta Kappa Nu during its first two years. No mention was made in print of his work at the time (obviously a sensitive issue); but he was listed, along with the Four Founders of Theta Kappa Nu, as one of the first five to have a lifetime subscription to the fraternity's magazine. . Having chartered 55 chapters, Theta Kappa Nu merged with Lambda Chi Alpha in 1939.
Phi Delta Theta has the distinction of having close connections with two sororities: Delta Gamma and Delta Zeta. George Banta Sr., a Phi Delt from Franklin-Indiana, was instrumental in expanding the Delta Gamma fraternity. For his efforts, he was the only man ever initiated into Delta Gamma. Banta would later perform initiation ceremonies for new members of the sorority, including Lillian Vawter, his fiancée. Guy Potter Benton, a graduate of the Phi Delt chapter at Ohio Wesleyan University, was president of Miami University in 1902 when he helped with the founding of Delta Zeta. Dr. Benton aided in the preparation of a ritual, badge, and colors. He was a great assistance to Delta Zeta and at one point chased down a man who stole the newly formed ritual of the sorority. For his work, Delta Zeta named him the Grand Patron of the sorority and is the only man to ever wear the Delta Zeta badge. To this day, an amiable friendship exists between Phi Delta Theta and these two sororities.
Phi Delta Theta instituted several policies and traditions that are not only still used by the fraternity today, but have also become standard among almost all fraternities, as well as sororities.
In 2002, Phi Delta Theta, along with Kappa Sigma and Phi Sigma Kappa left the North American Interfraternity Conference due to ideological differences. Fraternity officials had been concerned of the direction of the conference for six years before leaving. Phi Delta Theta officials believed that the conference had been placing too much emphasis on individual undergraduates through specific programs such as leadership conferences rather than focusing on the fraternity movement as a whole. Phi Sigma Kappa has since re-joined the NIC.
In 1997, Phi Delta Theta spearheaded the initiative of having alcohol free housing within its chapters by the year 2000. The policy has since been adopted by other fraternities including Delta Upsilon, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Beta Theta Pi, FarmHouse, Theta Chi and Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI), although Theta Chi has discontinued their Alcohol Free Housing Policy as of July 2010. However, unlike Phi Gamma Delta, Phi Delta Theta has no exemption policy allowing chapters that meet certain standards, such as a cumulative GPA higher than 3.0, to have alcohol in the chapter house.
When Phi Delta Theta announced the inception of an alcohol free housing policy, the announcement was met both by hope and skepticism. While some saw the banning of alcohol in housing facilities as a welcome return to the principles on which the fraternity was founded, others felt the drastic cultural shift would hurt social dynamics. The General Council and GHQ had expected resistance from both alumni and undergraduate members when it was first proposed. Among the most vocal chapters against the policy were the University of Virginia chapter, where a faction split off from Phi Delta Theta and chose to form a separate local fraternity known as the Phi Society, and the University of the South chapter, which formed the Phi Society of 1883 rather than adopt the policy. Phi Delta Theta returned to the University of Virginia one year later and formed a new chapter. Phi Delta Theta has not returned to the University of the South.
In 2005, the fraternity issued a progress report. Significant improvements have occurred in many areas of fraternity life and operations. Since the implementation of the alcohol free housing policy, the all undergraduate grade point average rose from 2.77 in 2000 to nearly 3.00 in 2005. The insurance premiums of individual members have also gone down as risk management violations have decreased. Perhaps the most telling area is in membership, where Phi Delta Theta showed an increase of new members. In 2004, Phi Delta Theta had 3,102 new members while other fraternities averaged 2,415. In 1990, chapters of Phi Delta Theta were 18% larger than the typical fraternity chapter. In 2004, they were 30% larger. Also, in 2004, Phi Delta Theta was one of only 13 national/international fraternities to show an increase in total undergraduates from the previous year with an increase of 4.2%. The significance of this is highlighted by the fact that Phi Delta Theta had fewer chapters than other fraternities. Competitively, Phi Delta Theta has remained a constant among others. In terms of new members, it ranked ninth in 1990, eighth in 2000, and ninth in 2004. Many alumni members have credited the alcohol free housing policy in continuing this trend.
Events branch from community service orientation to philanthropy efforts.[clarification needed]
In 2012, a new member at Northwestern University was hospitalized with a broken nose fractured in four places as a result of being forced by the fraternity to participate in a fight as hazing. After an investigation of this and other hazing incidents the fraternity chapter was placed on deferred suspension until June 17, 2016.
In 2013, Emory University voted to ban the fraternity from the campus for four years due to repeated hazing violations and misconduct. New members were forced to participate in "fight club", "successfully" consume high amounts of alcohol to prove their masculinity, and sleep on the floor in the fraternity house's basement in only their underwear.
In 2016, the chapter at Baylor University was suspended after its president was charged with sexual assault and rape of a woman who was unconscious at a party the fraternity hosted. The fraternity was cited for providing alcohol to underage students.
In 2017, the chapter at the University of Central Florida was suspended after a former new member reported to university authorities that he was severely physically and mentally abused by fraternity members.
In 2017, the chapter at Louisiana State University was suspended, along with all Greek life at LSU (per university president), after a new member was rushed to the hospital where he later succumbed to alcohol poisoning and died. Suspected hazing; alcohol abuse in addition to THC was found in his urine. Later, ten people were arrested and charged with hazing, and one was charged with negligent homicide in the death.
In 2017, the chapter at the University Of New Mexico was suspended due to hazing allegations. The chapter was shortly reinstated in Spring 2018 but remained on a probationary period till January 2019.
In 2018, the chapter at Washington University in St. Louis was permanently suspended after an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon was found in the house. They had previously been temporarily suspended because of a hazing incident and had repeatedly violated this suspension by hosting unsanctioned social events.
Membership to Phi Delta Theta is open to all qualified men without concern for race, religion, or ethnicity. Initial membership to the fraternity is contingent upon receiving an invitation to an interested individual by members of an active chapter. A pledge of Phi Delta Theta is called a Phikeia. The typical pledge period lasts a minimum of eight weeks, although occasionally it is shortened or lengthened to fit university requirements or by approval of the General Council. The pledge period is a time where the prospective member learns about the fraternity history, structure, traditions, organization as well as social etiquette. Phi Delta Theta has a strict policy against hazing and does not tolerate chapters who violate the policy. Once initiated, a brother is entitled to all rights and privileges of fraternity membership unless he formally resigns or is expelled.
Members of Phi Delta Theta have held numerous political positions in the United States, including the presidency, vice-presidency, and speakership of the House of Representatives. In Canada, fraternity members have served in many levels of government. Members have won major awards in science and entertainment, and have also gained prominence in areas such as architecture, medicine, and sports. Throughout the years, many prominent members have kept a vested interest in the events and operations of Phi Delta Theta. President Harrison, for example, participated in three Phi Delt banquets during his presidency while Medal of Honor recipient General Frederick Funston was the guest speaker at certain chapter installations.
The number of members who have either been involved in armed conflict or have achieved prominence in their respective professions have been documented throughout the years. As of November, 2014, the following statistics are the involvement of its members in various fields:
|14,000+ (initiated) members served in World War II||8 members have won a Pulitzer Prize|
|5,000+ members served in World War I||9 members have won an Emmy Award|
|400+ members have played professional football||6 members are enshrined in the MLB Hall of Fame|
|286 members served in the Spanish-American War||6 members are enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame|
|281 members served in the American Civil War||3 members have been NASA astronauts|
|200+ members have obtained the rank of General or Admiral||3 members have won an Academy Award|
|117 members have been United States Congressmen||3 members have won a Heisman Trophy|
|34 members have been state governors||3 members have served as justices of the Supreme Court of the United States|
|33 members have been United States Senators||2 members have been Canadian Premiers|
|15 members have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame||1 member served as President of the United States|
|9 members have received the Medal of Honor or Victoria Cross||1 member served as Vice President of the United States|
|1 member has won the Nobel Prize|
Since 1848, Phi Delta Theta has granted nearly 260 charters across the United States and Canada. Today, there are over 196 chapters and colonies. To be granted a charter, a colony must complete certain requirements set forth by the General Council. Chief among these are recruiting a certain number of members and achieving a respectable cumulative grade point average among its members. Phi Delta Theta also has the longest continuous chapter of any fraternity in the United States, that chapter being the Kentucky Alpha-Delta chapter at Centre College, which was established in 1850 and is still active today. In 2011, Phi Delta Theta awarded the Outstanding Chapter House of the Year award to the California Delta chapter at the University of Southern California. The largest chapter of Phi Delta Theta is at the University of Florida with, on average, 150 active brothers and over 3300 initiated since the chapter was founded in 1925.
Currently, Phi Delta Theta has over 100 active alumni clubs. Although all the clubs are currently in North America, alumni clubs have been found all over the world throughout its history. At one point, there were over 165 alumni chapters, some as far away as China. The most Phis to ever assemble on foreign land for an alumni club meeting, before the fraternity became international in 1902, was in Manila, Philippines when 30 Phis gathered in 1899. The alumni club in the Philippines lasted for nearly 40 years.