Steven Spielberg. Gene Kelly. Fred Astaire. These are just a few of the many famous names that have not only left a legend behind in the film industry but were also a part of a society that is now coming to Ithaca College.
Delta Kappa Alpha National Professional Cinema Fraternity was founded in 1936 at the University of Southern California, with a mission to train anyone interested in the film industry, recruiting names that became big in Hollywood such as “It’s a Wonderful Life” director Frank Capra. The society’s purpose is to foster bonds between students who are dedicated to the art of film and connect them throughout the country.
However, by the 1980s, the strength of the anti-establishment period led to the closing of all DKA chapters and other Greek chapters across the country. They were shut down because college officials didn’t like the idea of a cinematic fraternity on the campus.
DKA re-emerged in 2009 after two students at the University of Southern California managed to find all of the old notes about DKA and eventually re-established the program. After a few years, it has spread to 16 different campuses across the nation, including places like the University of Miami, New York University, Syracuse University and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Junior Emily DeRoo, one of the six founders of the college’s chapter, said it has taken about two years to get the society up and running. She said she wanted to bring this organization to the college because it’s a great way for cinema lovers to meet and share their passion.
DeRoo said the college had trouble approving the organization because it was previously known as a fraternity. There were concerns over the implications of having an organization on campus labeled as a fraternity.
“We were formally known as a professional fraternity, and for some reason, Ithaca didn’t like that,” DeRoo said. “When I was in Los Angeles, my job was to urge everyone to pass the name change on a national level, and I had that help with it nationally, but it was definitely a task.”
After two years of perseverance on DeRoo’s part, the name of DKA as a fraternity was switched altogether, and the fraternity is now nationally known as a society, and the college’s DKA chapter gained the approval of the Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs and is preparing to recruit members.
IC’s DKA recruitment began Feb. 23 and will continue for about a week and a half. Its first few meetings are information sessions and speed dating, and then DKA decides whom it wants to invite back to recruit through events such as dinners, interviews and eventually a welcome orientation night.
Junior James Manton, the treasurer of the chapter, said the DKA’s ultimate goal is to have a wide diversity of students who share a passion for film with different majors rather than just students from the Roy H. Park School of Communications.
“We want to not just be known in the Park School or for film or TVR. We want it to be for the whole campus,” Manton explained. “I don’t want anyone who hears about us to be discouraged to join because we’re inclusive of all majors. It’s anyone interested in film, really.”
DeRoo agreed, saying her overarching objective is to unify the campus through film and include people from every school.
“We’re so separate and in our own little bubbles,” DeRoo said. “But you really need people from every school to make a film possible.”
Junior Brennah Chirumbole, another founding member of the college’s chapter, said she got to Skype with a member of the national executive board, and his vision for the organization got her hooked.
“I just really like the community. It’s a community of people that share the same values as I do, so you get to meet people you don’t normally meet,” Chirumbole said. “I think it’s a good experience — and a resume booster, too.”
Chirumbole said the society’s members are known to be the best of the best in cinematic arts, and the reputation is known throughout the country.
DeRoo said one of the things she’s most excited about for the school year is that this year’s national convention is being held in Syracuse, New York. Since it’s so close, she said she hopes to bring as many members of DKA as possible.
Besides the convention, DeRoo said she also hopes to involve as many people as possible in the public events DKA throws. DKA is hosting an Oscar party Feb. 28 with a red carpet, formal dress and ballots for people to vote for whom they think will win the awards.
DeRoo also explained that not only is the society a great way to show her love for film, but also to meet people who have the same amount of passion as she does.
“You’re not only befriending all these people, but it’s like a network system,” DeRoo said. “You can tell these people are going to be the next big things in film.”