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For week ended February 20, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
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Summarized by Kent Larsen

Many LDS Fraternities, Sororities Will Drop Their Greek Names
Salt Lake Tribune 19Feb00 N6
By Peggy Fletcher Stack: Salt Lake Tribune

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The Salt Lake Tribune became the first newspaper to confirm Mormon-News' report that the LDS Church's fraternity and sorority programs will drop their greek letter names this fall. Most of the programs will then be known as the "Institute Women's Association" and "Institute Men's Association" instead of Lambda Delta Sigma and Sigma Gamma Chi.

Mormon-News first reported this change two weeks ago. [See: D3LDS-SGC01.shtml LDS Church spokesman Dale Bills then provided Mormon-News with a prepared statement saying that the changes would allow the organizations to better "meet the needs of young single adults." The Tribune reports that LDS Church officials declined to elaborate further on what the changes would mean.

U. of U. LDS Institute of Religion Director Paul Browning told the Tribune that the Church will be training Institute directors in the next couple weeks, and the Church may use this opportunity to train them on how and what changes to make in the program. The programs at the University of Utah and at Utah State, and at other schools with active greek-named fraternities and sororities will retain the greek-letter names.

The LDS Church's institute's of religion include 129,000 students in the United States and Canada. The Tribune gives further details on the history of LDS Institutes of Religion and Lambda Delta Sigma and Sigma Gamma Chi. The first LDS Institute was established at the University of Idaho at Moscow in 1926, and, as Mormon-News reported, Lowell Bennion, longtime Institute director at the University of Utah launched the first LDS fraternities and sororities, both known as Lambda Delta Sigma, about 10 years later.

The establishment of the LDS Student Association (LDSSA) in 1967 also led the programs to split, and the men's fraternity took the name Sigma Gamma Chi (standing for "service to God and country"). The fraternities grew over the years, and currently the University of Utah has 16 Lambda Delta Sigma sorority chapters and nine Sigma Gamma Chi fraternity chapters, each with about 40 members. During "rush" week, the chapters attract between 1,500 and 2,000 people to social activities at the University of Utah's Institute of Religion.

However, the fraternities and sororities were always different from other greek-letter organizations. "Everyone who wants to belong will belong," Browning said. "There is nothing exclusive about it. The only standards you have to abide by are the standards of the church." Browning reports that the changes will include "modifications to make them less Greek." Terminology like 'rush' and 'pledge' may be changed. 'Initiation,' was eliminated from the LDS chapters in 1993. "We have a membership ceremony that inducts a person into Lambda Delta Sigma. It explains the ideals of the sorority or fraternity," Browning said. "But there is nothing mysterious or closed about it."


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