You have to know where you’ve been to know where you are going. Kappa holds a special place in its heart for Fraternity history, but every chapter of our organization has unique beginnings of its own. Each plays a part in shaping us today. Read more about our chapters’ histories at Kappapedia.
On June 10,1892, a year after the University itself was founded, the Beta Eta Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma became the second female fraternity established on the Stanford Campus. Beta Eta represented the 35th chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma chartered since the establishment of the National Fraternity in 1870. Preceded only by Kappa Alpha Theta six months earlier, it became one of twelve sororities recognized by the University throughout the next century.Beta Eta initiated its colonizing pledge class in the music room of Roble Hall, which at the time served as the women’s dormitory; meetings took place in members’ rooms upstairs.
The first Rush was based on a simple agreement between the two existing sororities not to extend bids to freshmen or upperclass women until eight weeks into fall quarter. Such cooperative efforts between Kappa and Theta eventually led to the creation of a Panhellenic organization on campus. After three additional sororities joined the Stanford family, a banquet in the Roble Dining Room inaugurated the governing Body which was to become the Inter-Sorority Council (ISC).
During its early years, Beta Eta was a small, casual group learning from a variety of experiences as a budding women’s organization. After loosing its pioneering pledge class to graduation in 1896, only ten Kappas remained on campus. But with the help of a few diligent Kappa alumnae, the group maintained its strength and rebuilt its numbers. The pledge class initiated in 1896 included Lou Henry (Hoover), who would become the wife of President Herbert Hoover. Lucy Evelyn White (Allan), grand president of the National Fraternity from 1890-1892 arrived at Stanford for graduate study at the same time. She went on to become the University’s first dean of women and led the way for improved women’s housing, including that of sororities, during her tenure.
In the spring of 1899 arrangements were made to build a Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter house on what was then Lasuen Street in the middle of campus, next to the Phi Delta Theta house, then the only structure on the street. In January of 1900, the women moved in and Beta Eta became the first chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma in the country to build and own its chapter house. (Memorial Church hadn’t even been built yet!) In July 1900 the fraternity’s national magazine, The Key, described the house as having “sloping moss-green roofs, pointed gables, dormer windows.
The wrought iron lattice over the door [bore] the letters KKG and the art glass windows with fleur-de-lis embedded in the cardinal formed an artistic entrance...” Beta Eta members maintained an active involvement both on campus and off. As a group and as individual members the women participated in athletics, performing arts, campus leadership, and War Relief efforts, especially with the Stanford Women’s Red Cross Unit. They also aided the Stanford Convalescent Home for Children and hosted the first Kappa Province Convention in 1929. Relations between the Stanford and University of California at Berkeley (Pi) chapters, and with alumnae, were strong, and an annual fashion show in which actives modeled was a highlight of each spring; proceeds went to such things as scholarships and war relief efforts.
By the 1940’s, a number of factors had altered the Greek atmosphere at Stanford. The Greek Task Force 1997 Report noted that “Prior to 1933, there had been a limit of 500 on the number of women who could be enrolled at Stanford” But as large numbers of college-age men began leaving the country to fight in World War II, the number of female students admitted increased dramatically in order to offset the declining enrollment numbers. When the limit was removed and more women entered the residential system, competition increased for the generally more desirable living spaces in sorority houses. The amount of sorority housing did not expand accordingly, and women who could not or chose not to be accommodated in sorority houses lived in dormitories. Severe division developed, adversely affecting women’s academic work and personal lives. In 1943 there were five applicants for every place in a sorority.
A number of petitions to discontinue sororities circulated and at the bidding of both Greek and non-Greek women, the Board of Trustees authorized a task force to look into the situation. With widespread support from women across campus, University President Donald Tresidder announced the dissolution of Stanford sororities on April 26, 1944. That summer the group disbanded and sold their chapter houses to the University. Today, the site of the former KKG House is near the present site of Xanadu House. In December 1977, the Board of Trustees reversed its stance, lifting the 33-year ban on sororities. Lola Nashashibi, a transfer from Bucknell, had the initiative to reestablish the Stanford chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma. Thirty-four women signed a formal petition for reinstatement to the National Fraternity which was granted in February, 1978. By March the new Beta Eta Deuteron chapter, led by two active transfers, pledged 29 women.
Their first major activity as a sorority was to participate in a Muscular-Dystrophy Dance-a-thon held in Stanford Quad in April of that year. Although the University did not officially recognize the organizations or allow them to use the University name or facilities, Pi Beta Phi, Kappa Alpha Theta, Alpha Phi, Delta Gamma, and Delta Sigma Theta also pledged new members in 1978. The following year, a group of graduate students challenged the University, claiming that if fraternities existed, sororities should also be permitted on campus in accordance with Title IX of the Higher Education Act of 1974.
In 1981, after continuous debate between the sororities, their national organizations, alumni, and the administration, the University slowly began granting recognition to chapters that could demonstrate total local autonomy, a requirement the would curtail the ability of women outside the college chapters to influence who could be selected for membership. The Beta Eta Deuteron Chapter became the fifth sorority to win recognition in 1983.
Since its reinstatement in 1978, the Beta Eta chapter has enjoyed a glowing history at Stanford University. Beta Eta Deuteron has been recognized many times by Nationals for earning the highest grade point average of all KKG chapters in the country. Stanford Kappas are continually applauded in The Key for their athletic accomplishments: in fact, 18 members have won 34 NCAA national championship rings on 10 different sports teams since 1992. Beta Eta Deuteron has brought home many fraternity awards recognizing everything from outstanding academic achievement, outstanding philanthropic efforts, and most recently outstanding recruitment, not to mention the numerous awards earned by our amazing advisors for all of their help!