Phi Delta Alpha name changes to Phi Society

Following a unanimous vote by Phi Delta Alpha Fraternity's undergraduate members, the organization has changed its name to the Phi Society, effective last week.

The Phi Society now will refer to brothers of the fraternity as Phis, and to their fraternity house on 1 University Circle as the Phi Society or Phi House.

The fraternity, a member of the Multicultural Greek Council, officially invoked this change Oct. 5. The decision is supported both by its members and by the Trustees of Virginia Beta, Inc., a board composed of the fraternity's alumni.

Members of the fraternity have agreed the new name better represents the fraternity's values, Phi Society President Dan Gershwin said.

"I believe that this renaming is resultant from their efforts to define their guiding principles and the heritage they claim," said Aaron Laushway, assistant dean of students and director of fraternity and sorority life.

Harry Marshall, president of Virginia Beta Inc., said alumni agree with Gershwin's assessment.

This decision comes on the heels of the organization's lawsuit settlement with the Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity, which sued Phi Delta Alpha last spring for -- among other charges -- copyright violations.

Phi Delta Theta headquarters filed the complaint after the University's Phi Delta Theta chapter, which had lost its charter in the fall of 2000, re-colonized a year later.

The lawsuit contended that Phi Delta Alpha, a local fraternity established by former members of Phi Delta Theta, intentionally had misled the University community by continuing to use Phi Delta Theta symbols and terms -- for instance, referring to members as "Phi Delts."

Despite such charges, Phi Delta Alpha's name change was not mandated in the lawsuit's settlement last August, Gershwin said.

"This change is being made voluntarily, and was not required by anyone, including Phi Delta Theta," he added. "There is no outstanding dispute between Phi Delta Theta and Phi Delta Alpha -- we wish them the best of luck."

Phi Delta Theta President Steve Reis said the contents of the lawsuit's settlement are sealed, and will not be made public in accordance with court agreement.

In a press release issued by the Phi Society, the fraternity declared itself to be unaffiliated with the Phi Delta Theta national organization or its chapter at the University.

Having worked closely with Phi members for the past two years, Laushway said he is optimistic about the fraternity's future.

"I anticipate many good things and contributions from the brothers of the Phi Society," he added.

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