La Verne Magazine
Spring 1999

"Defining Family"


Sisterhood Defines Family

by Allison Moore
photography by Michelle Zimmerman


Iota Delta sorority sisters Kelly Mitchell, sophomore journalism major, and Erin Hernandez, junior biology major, have discovered an on-campus family that gives support and advice, ranging from study tips to dating dilemmas.

What organization on the University of La Verne campus do you get when you cross a male football coach as the adviser and have male partners? No, it is not the football team, and it is not a fraternity. The answer: It is the Alpha chapter of the Iota Delta sorority. The Alpha chapter of the one and only Iota Delta sorority is the University of La Verne's own local chapter.

A group of women, mostly participants of the softball team, Associated Student Federation members and Student Housing resident assistants founded Iota Delta on April 28, 1988. These 12 women could not find what they wanted from other organizations; they did not feel they fit the mold of the other national sororities on campus. They wanted to be involved with an organization that did not force them to forfeit their individuality.

According to Victoria Neas, president of Iota Delta, "They founded it on their individual personalities, beliefs and values. The founding principles were the same as they are now. We will always have that [the principles]; it is our foundation."

Neas explained that Iota Delta is, "A group of college women joined together to celebrate our individuality, embrace diversity and strive for excellence in academics, community involvement and sisterhood."

Being a local chapter, compared to other national chapters, means that Iota Delta is more independent. The women have complete control over the direction that the sorority goes. "We can shift and bend as times change. We're not a typical sorority; we're an independent organization, but we're dependent on each other," says Neas.

This local sorority is not bound to long-standing traditions, rules and regulations to which many national sororities are tied. Iota Delta has the power within itself to spread its wings as wide as it wishes.

"If certain things haven't been working, we can change them," says junior Kelly Mitchell.

Iota Delta can make amendments to its constitution in just a few days. Recently, at its January retreat in San Diego, the members made three changes to their constitution. They added a Snack Chair to their 11 existing chairs; they changed the GPA requirements and modified the responsibilities and requirements of chair positions.

Iota Delta's decision to choose Don Morel, the head football coach as their adviser is unique. The women needed to find an adviser, but after concluding that none of the females they interviewed were suitable for the position, they decided to look elsewhere. They chose Morel based on the qualities that the members saw were representative of Iota Delta. "We are not bound to having a woman as an adviser," says Neas.

Morel was not always a supporter of sororities. "I was anti-fraternity and anti-sorority when I was a student at the University of La Verne." Morel attended ULV from 1983 to 1987.

At one time, he was a member of ULV's Greek Review Board, which is in charge of handling the judicial procedures of the Greek organizations. Morel confesses that he was probably the most anti-Greek member on the board.

During the five years that Morel worked at California State University at Fullerton, he started to see a need for the Greek system. He felt that since Fullerton had such a sprawling campus with a large population of students, Greek systems could be useful for students who were trying to create a family among strangers. Despite Morel's acknowledgement of Greek systems at Fullerton, he still did not feel that ULV, with its small population, had a need for them.

"I felt that the students were getting into them for the wrong reasons," explains Morel. "I felt like they were cliquish, like you stereotyped yourself into a group, and that you couldn't get out of it."

Iota Delta was unaware of Morel's dislike of sororities, and in an effort to get a new adviser, they invited him to a banquet. Morel accepted the invitation and discovered something that he didn't expect. "There were so many great people involved in it whom I didn't even know were in a sorority," recalls Morel.

Soon after, Morel resigned from his position on the Greek Review Board and has now been the adviser for 1 1/2 years. Morel participates in monthly meetings, represents the organization for budget concerns and attends all of the rush week activities. He says he appreciates the honest approach that Iota Delta members take in running their organization. "The best thing about Iota Delta is that there is no hidden agenda," he says.

In order to become the official adviser, Morel went through an entire interviewing process. "Don is the perfect Iota Delta guy," says Araceli Esparza, junior. "He's everything that we are in a male version. We call him Delta dad."

Iota Delta tries to put less emphasis on being a sorority and more emphasis on cultivating friendships."We are the non-sorority sorority," says Neas.

Iota Delta recognizes that referring to fellow members as "sisters" is more of a tradition than a necessity. "Just because we are in the same sorority, it doesn't mean that we always have to refer to each other as sisters," says Esparza. Living on campus and working during the weekends, she spends a limited amount of time with her family, usually on Saturday nights. "I think that I spend more time with my sorority than I do with my regular family," confesses Esparza, who holds three offices in the group. I'm here at school so much."

Due to the long hours spent at school, Esparza enjoys the association that she has with the Iota Delta members. "Whenever I am having a bad day, all I have to do is see one of them, and it cheers me up. Iota Delta is like my second family," she adds.

The Greek meaning of the name Iota Delta can be interpreted with acronyms. The "I" in Iota stands for individuality; the "D" in Delta stands for diversity. There are many girls with many different backgrounds, but they all respect each other's differences.

Iota Delta prides themselves on not placing too much importance on recruiting as many women as possible to join the sorority. They hope that women join because they see qualities in the members of Iota Delta that they like. "We're friends with you before recruitment," says Mitchell. "We would rather be friends with you, than just have you in the sorority."

Neas recalls that most of her friends were members of Iota Delta, but until her sophomore year she never knew it because they never flaunted their letters in front of her.

Esparza says, "We would rather have a few girls rush who are strongly dedicated than to have many girls rush who are never involved."

This semester's rush period brought in seven new members. Neas says, "All of the new members are excited to be part of their new Iota Delta family.

Kesly MorganArmstrong (she and her husband combined their names), the daughter of ULV President Steve Morgan, transferred to La Verne last year from the University of Colorado. As she set out to complete her diversified major, she found herself in a situation where she did not know anyone. She relates that when she walked around the ULV campus, she was greeted by a few friendly faces and later learned that most of them were members of Iota Delta Sorority. She appreciated the open and honest relationships that she gained from the members.

Joining the Iota Delta sorority, Kesly confesses that it was a strange situation for her and husband Brian at first. However, Brian was able to become a more integral part of Iota Delta by joining the Iota Man program. This program consists of men who participate in most of the sorority's activities and share the same principles with the girls.

The Iota Man program was sparked when male friends of the female members would come and participate in activities, plus volunteer time to help with charity work.

According to Neas, "The 'Iota Man' hold all of the same values that the Iota Delta members hold. They go through initiation events, including a special ceremony."

She adds, "As a member, they go to formal dances, and they do charity work and almost everything else that the girls do. They're like our special guests."

All of the qualities and components of Iota Delta combine to create an organization that stands in a category of its own on the ULV campus. The members and their affiliates have formed a family that allows them to embrace one another in a bond that celebrates individuality and diversity.



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