As nearly 21,000 young women pursue college degrees, they are finding what has been described as an "oasis in a difficult world." That oasis is Lambda Delta Sigma.
Lamdba Delta Sigma, a Church-sponsored college sorority that operates in conjunction with the Latter-day Saint Student Association, has one purpose: to righteously influence the decisions and actions of college women during a most crucial time of their lives, said Joyce Goodman, one of the organization's national vice presidents.In order to achieve that purpose the organization's members participate in myriad activities - ranging from service projects to dances and from goal-setting to weekly meetings.
Lambda Delta Sigma has been in existence since the 1930s as a Church coeducational organization, but in the '60s, the organization was changed and a separate fraternity, Sigma Gamma Chi, was formed for men.
Of the formation of the two LDS campus organizations, Sister Goodman said, "They took the very best of the Greek societies and left out the negative aspects."
In the past two decades, the sorority has grown and currently there are more than 74 chapters on 44 campuses throughout the Unites States. There is also one chapter in Nova Scotia.
Beginning with "Rush Week," an activity held the first week of school to encourage young women to join the group, prospective pledges learn about the gospel-oriented sorority and what will be expected of them if they join. Joining the sorority is open to any college woman who is willing to live Latter-day Saint standards, said Sister Goodman.
The open invitation to all young women to join the sorority is only one of the differences between Lambda Delta Sigma and many other college sororities, Pat Romney, national president, pointed out. Other differences include the emphasis the organization places on service and high standards, as well as leadership training that all members receive.
Lambda Delta Sigma has changed the lives of many individuals, according to Sister Goodman. Many non-LDS college women join the group and more than half of those are baptized, she reported.
Lambda Delta Sigma leaders also report other impressive statistics: More than 90 percent of its members marry in the temple, 9 percent of the young women serve missions and the overall grade point average for sorority members is 3.03.
Shannon Hendry, a student at Orange Coast College in California, has been responsible for bringing at least one friend into the Church, and Lambda Delta Sigma played a large part in that process. "The experience I've had as part of this great program has made my testimony grow tremendously," she said. "I'm so excited about the opportunities I have and will have through Lambda Delta Sigma."
Joanne Doxey, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, has had three daughters involved in Lambda Delta Sigma. She explained that chapter advisers play a large role in the success of the program. "These advisers are hand picked, and they reinforce our teachings as parents and give these young women additional confidence," she observed. "Lambda Delta Sigma also offers the young women an avenue to use their talents, those they have developed and those they didn't even know existed. They are better Relief Society members because of their involvement in Lambda Delta Sigma."
Others concur. Joseph I. Bentley, president of the Newport Beach California Stake, commented after the sorority was organizes for college students in his stake: "It was most definitely worth the effort," he wrote in a letter to Lambda Delta Sigma national officers.
"Girls who were previously shy or withdrawn, frustrated or insecure, have been strengthened by their peers. Many who previously thought themselves too busy with school work and extracurricular activities, ward callings and dating, have found that the bonds of love and sisterhood emanating from the chapter have enhanced and not detracted from their other demands. In fact, the chapter has become a kind of oasis in a difficult world."