Alumnae and current members of the Omicron Chi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. recently met on campus to recognize the chapter’s 40th anniversary with a weekend of celebrations. More than 130 chapter alumnae attended the sorority, which was recognized for its community programming and individual members’ contributions. (Image credit: Anthony Chen/Ethography)

As it enters its fifth decade on the Stanford campus, the Omicron Chi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is recognized for both its work and its members. The chapter’s 40th anniversary celebration, a weekend-long event held this fall, showcased the accomplishments of its members and their commitment to service.

A highlight of the weekend was a Black Women’s Brunch, which drew about 130 attendees, including dozens of undergraduates not connected to the sorority. Speakers included Dr. Stacey Dixon, principal deputy director of national intelligence in the Biden administration; former Louisiana State Senator Cheryl Gray Evans; and actress and producer Ryan Michelle Bathé. The weekend also included social events and a service project: making more than 500 care packages to be donated to St. Anthony’s, a safety net service center based in San Francisco.

The weekend illustrated the inspiration and support the sorority provides for members while they are on campus and throughout their lives.

“My freshman year at Stanford, two women who were very influential in helping me figure out where I belonged on campus were members of the Omicron Chi Chapter,” said Faith Ajanaku, treasurer of the chapter. “I realized how amazing it would be to have a community of women who are dedicated to the same things I am: service, scholarship, sisterhood.”

Current chapter members were also recognized for their leadership. Sadé Ried, a senior mathematical and computational science major, is the national second vice president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. – the only collegiate member on the national board. And two chapter members, Ajanaku and Iyanu Dare, were chosen for the Leadership Delta cohort, a year-long leadership development program sponsored by the national organization.

Uplifting members, uplifting the community

The national Delta Sigma Theta organization provides a Five-Point Programmatic Thrust to guide chapters’ programming: economic development, educational development, international awareness and involvement, physical and mental health, and political awareness and involvement.

“We focus on programming that is going to uplift our own chapter members but will also uplift the community that our chapters are located in, with particular emphasis on the Black community,” said Chloë Rollock, president of the chapter.

The chapter leads regular programs for the Stanford community. Recent examples include a program called Love a Black Woman from Infinity to Infinity,” which sponsored campus talks by Black female faculty members.

“The students were able to engage with Black faculty members in ways that you aren’t able to in a classroom setting,” Rollock said.

One focus for this year: mental health. The Omicron Chi Chapter recently received a $1,000 grant from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), for mental health programming. The grant is part of a partnership between NAMI and the national Delta Sigma Theta organization to promote awareness of mental health and reduce the stigma of mental health issues in the Black community.

The chapter also does at least two service projects each quarter outside the Stanford community. Service projects have included helping with a beach cleanup in Oakland and raising over $900 to help victims of tornadoes that hit Little Rock, Arkansas, last year. Currently, the chapter is working on setting up a mentorship program for Black youth in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto.

Alumnae of the Omicron Chi Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority joined current students and members recently for a Black Women’s Brunch featuring a variety of keynote speakers. Attendees shared how influential the organization has been in their lives at Stanford and beyond. (Image credit: Anthony Chen/Ethography)

A rich history

When Delta Sigma Theta was founded in 1913 on the campus of Howard University, “they had a vision for a sorority that would serve the community,” Rollock said. “That holds true to the values and the work that our sorority does every day.”

The Omicron Chi Chapter was chartered on June 2, 1983, by 13 young women and has had nearly 300 members since its inception. It originally included members from Stanford and the surrounding communities. Today, it is focused on the Stanford campus and has nine active members.

The Omicron Chi Chapter is not the only sorority celebrating its 40th anniversary at Stanford. A number of sororities started on campus in the early 1980s. The reason for the sudden influx: Stanford banned sororities in 1944 due to concerns about a divide on campus between women who were in sororities and those who were not. The ban lasted for 33 years, until the passage of Title IX, which prohibited different treatment for men and women. In addition, at the time of the ban, there were no Black Greek letter organizations on campus. The Omicron Chi Chapter was among the first.

“The longevity and sustainability of these organizations is a testament to the resilience and the commitment of both the alumnae and the undergraduates to continue to serve Black women on campus, the broader Stanford community, and the local community,” said Christopher Carter, associate director of fraternity and sorority life.