The Original Chapter
For one year after the founding of the University of Rochester in 1850, student activity was limited to membership in one of two true literary societies. These literary societies met in rooms belonging to the college, and as promoters of the intellectual improvement of their members, threw their doors open to any men who wished membership. After the end of that year, secret societies had found their place at Rochester and greatly hampered the livelihood of the literary groups. At first, the secret societies were able to control the appointment of officers and exclude neutrals from literary work. In response to the evils of secrecy, a number of individuals from the literary societies formed an anti-secret organization. However, the existence of this organization was quickly terminated by the secret fraternities. Some of those anti-secret men, however, were able to form a new literary club as a means of keeping their ideals alive.
Word of the goings-on at Rochester reached the Hamilton Chapter of the Fraternity, which became very excited at the prospect of forming a new chapter. Immediately, a Hamilton alumnus, Milton T. Hills, was contacted at his home in Mt. Morris, New York, and was given the duty of forming an anti-secret organization, and hopefully a branch of the Confederation, at Rochester. Hills first contacted Fordyce Williams, a member of the former anti-secret organization at Rochester (and who later earned the title founder of the Rochester Chapter,) and the two found six other men to support their cause. These men, who had been part of the former anti-secret organization, made sure to keep their new plans quiet until they were strong enough to endure an attack from the secret societies. They secured, as their first meeting place, a room on Exchange Street downtown. Approval of the Rochester Group was obtained unanimously by Amherst in March of 1852 and by Williams in June. Hamilton was already in approval at the time. The founding date of the original Rochester chapter may be set at June 1852.
In the winter of 1854-55, the building holding the Fraternity's room on Exchange Street burned down, so the chapter secured a new room in the Hamilton block on State Street. The Fraternity maintained prosperity in numbers until 1870, when the average number of Brothers dropped from twenty-five to twelve. However, these men made up for their deficiency in numbers with academic achievement; in the 1871 Commencement, DU earned twenty-two out of forty honors given to the students by the University. (All the secret societies combined earned only twenty, neutrals earned three).
The New Chapter
Delta Upsilons 120 year history at the UR came to an end in 1972 as DU became one of the Fraternity casualties of the 1970s. Though declining undergraduate interest for the Fraternity system on this campus was the paramount reason, it was certainly not the only reason. In addition, oppressively high property taxes made it impossible to remain financially stable, despite maximum occupancy of the Chapter house, which is now the Drama Center on the Fraternity Quadrangle. Finally, the alumni corporation ceded the house to the University, and the chapter that had existed for 120 years was no more.
Sometime after the disappearance of the chapter, the legal battle by the other fraternities to correct the real estate tax problem was settled in favor of the fraternities. For Delta Upsilon, the pardon came too late. This was not the end of DU involvement on campus, though. Delta Upsilon alumni in Rochester were determined to preserve their Fraternity's name and history at the University. The renovations on the former chapter house provided the opportunity for this. The Delta Upsilon Alumni Association of Rochester made a generous donation to the University in 1983 to help pay for the renovations to the Drama House, DU's former home. A plaque in Drama House cites Delta Upsilon's alumni for their help in renovating the house. Another generous donation resulted in the construction of the DU Alumni lounge in the Zornow Sports Complex, more commonly known as the basketball and tennis courts of the Goergen Athletic Center.
Sophomores Bill Jones, John Johnston, Ed Tannouse, Leif Rogers, and Josh Achziger declared in September of 1989 that "there is a definite need for a new Fraternity on Campus." They cited the deceptive, secretive nature of the Fraternities on campus at the time as a major reason for seeking a new Fraternity. At first, these thoughts and complaints went without action, but the more the subject of fraternities was raised, the more it became apparent that a new fraternity should be started, not simply discussed. Finally, Bill Jones conducted some research into societies that were once charted at UR, and as a fruit of his efforts, he learned about Delta Upsilon. As the only international non-secret Fraternity, DU caught his attention, and the founding principles of the Fraternity (advancement of justice, promotion of friendship, development of character, and diffusion of liberal culture) seemed tailor-made to provide what the UR was lacking.
On October 6, 1989, Jeff Dempsey, Delta Upsilon's Expansion Director, received a letter from the gentlemen at Rochester expressing their interest in starting a DU Colony. The timing for Mr. Dempsey could not have been better, for he had already visited UR on October 2 to learn of the possibility of starting a Colony as part of Headquarters' expansion program. By October 27, Bill Jones received a package of information about Delta Upsilon and word that Mr. Dempsey would return to the University on November 9. When that date arrived, the originally interested five had become fifteen gentlemen who met with Mr. Dempsey to hear that they could become a Colony upon approval from the Inter-Fraternity Council at the University. With the news, progress was quicker than ever before. The DU Colony proposal was presented to the IFC on November 14th, and notification of approval came from Dean Spelman, Director of Greek Affairs, on November 29th. At the end of the fall semester in 1990, a package and application for Chapter status were sent off to headquarters. Upon returning, the Colony received approval to be installed as a Chapter of Delta Upsilon Fraternity. On May 3 and 4, 1991, the Brothers of the Rochester Colony were initiated into Delta Upsilon Fraternity and were granted Chapter status. Since then, twenty-two classes of Associate Members have been inducted into the chapter.
In 2000, the chapter decided to apply for a house on the Fraternity Quad. Brothers Brian Kehoe and Shawn Goldman were instrumental in preparing and presenting our application to the administration. The university rewarded us with the former medieval society house because of our creative application, which laid out a comprehensive plan for a revolutionary fraternity, incorporating academic programming for both ourselves and the campus as a whole. We moved into the house previously inhabited by the medieval society and built by the Kappa Nu fraternity the following fall. In the spring of 2012, the University of Rochester Office of Residential Life decided not to renew DU's presence on the Fraternity Quad. Following this unfortunate news, the Delta Upsilon Chapter relocated to the Jackson Court residential area, taking a new residence on the 3rd floor of Wilder Tower. Although devastating, this was an opportunity to change and a new beginning.