The founders of Delta Sigma Theta were devoted to promoting four main attributes as their organization's mission: sisterhood, scholarship, service and social action. Half a century later, these admirable aspects of what it means to be a Delta continue to be exemplified by chapters all over the world. For fifty years, the Iota Chi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta at USC has been second to none in their dedication to public service and outreach in Columbia and beyond. On February 17, 2023, USC's Delta Sigma Theta members found themselves in a position that very few fraternal organizations are ever offered: state recognition of the organization's commitment to service and the introduction of an official Iota Chi Day.
Caley Bright, the chapter's Financial Secretary and Social Action Chair, submitted the House and Senate resolution that made this honor possible. "What this means is the South Carolina General Assembly recognizes Iota Chi for serving the Columbia community and the University of South Carolina Columbia campus for fifty years for public service," Bright said."This is really special to me because nobody else has this and it means a lot that my sorority is getting recognition for what they deserve."
South Carolina Representative Annie McDaniels, a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta herself, gave the address that put this historic motion into effect. She and the other representatives recognize the chapter's impact on the community over the past fifty years, making Iota Chi an exemplary candidate for this honor.
"This is significant because they were chartered in 1973, back when there were not a lot of African-American sororities," Representative McDaniels said. "It was 22 illustrious ladies that decided that we need an organization of college-educated African-American women to start doing public service and community service kind of work."
Iota Chi is involved in many outreach projects in numerous areas of service. "We work internationally with different issues. We get politically involved," Representative McDaniels said. "We like to educate and we like to make sure voters are registered. We have programs where we engage with our young people so that they're ready for college." Iota Chi offers a STEM program for school-aged girls to promote interest and involvement in different disciplines. "We do a whole lot in the community to make sure that we prepare young people for life after college."
The organization also coordinates service projects targeted toward the USC community specifically. "We currently have a multitude of events that we do on campus. We do Pillow Talk every year, which is an educational development event," Iota Chi President Ethena Lighty said. "We have a partnership with Harvest Hope where we volunteer with them once a month and help them with any donation drives that they are currently needing. "As Representative McDaniels put it, Delta Sigma Theta is, "a powerful force as it relates to civic engagement and the many different issues that are near and dear to our sisterhood."
State House recognition and the instatement of Iota Chi Day is a profound accomplishment for any student group, especially one chartered during a time when its members were met with all forms of racial discrimination. "Things like this don't happen for us typically," Lighty said.
"We were the first Black sorority to be chartered here at USC, so this is a magnificent feat to even reach our 50th and an even more magnificent feat being able to be recognized by the State House with our own Iota Chi Day. I think this is amazing because I don't think any fraternal organization in the state has had any recognition such as this, so we're very honored that we're being recognized for our dedication to service in the Columbia community for the past fifty years," Lighty said.