A Point of Pride Written by: Peter Lane, Foundation Director of Development
This is a story about a remarkable Delta Chi and his firsthand accounts of helping break the color barrier in historically white fraternities. As an Asian-American on one of the most progressive campuses in North America during the early 1960s, Brother Lin’s story is a compelling one; his life is an example of the extraordinary men we have the privilege of calling “Brother” and the positive way his Delta Chi experience made a lasting impact on his professional success and personal relationships.
t was the spring of 1960 at the University of California, Berkeley, an epicenter of radical ideas in America. Delta Chi’s chapter merged with a local fraternity: Abracadabra (the origin of the odd name of Delta Chi’s chapter at Cal). Without knowing it, Paul Young Lin became not only a member of the first Associate Member class of the newlymerged group, but also one of the first non-white initiates on campus and in all of Delta Chi.
Delta Chi Quarterly
“I was not an activist in any sense; went to school and got good grades,” Lin recalls of his experience. “I did not know at the time that it was a big deal. I am Chinese and was brought up in Berkeley; my father was a UC professor.” In fact, Lin would not know anything about the significance of his race and pledging a historically white fraternity until a few years later when, as he recalls, a representative from Delta Chi’s Headquarters came to campus and congratulated Paul on his achievement. “At that time, (race) played almost no part. I had no idea there was any prejudice or discrimination. In high school I was valedictorian, I ran track, and I never noticed there was any problem. When I joined Delta Chi I did not know there were any issues.” As part of the research for a graduate paper in 2009, Ryan Barone, Colorado State 2007, determined that Lin was one of the first non-white members pictured and/or mentioned in The Quarterly. Barone’s research focused on historically white fraternities, specifically Delta Chi’s and Sigma Chi’s White Clauses in their Constitution and By-Laws regarding membership qualifications. Over the course of 37 pages, Barone chronicles the internal debates during the 1950s that took place in both organizations and the compromises that were reached. Discussing his Delta Chi experience, Lin noted, “Basically I ended up being a leader and had no problem after that. I held just about every office in the chapter; “A”, “B”, “C”, “D”, and “E”.” Lin was later surprised to learn of the contentious nature of his initiation.