HISTORY ‘LINK” OF PHI PHI ALPHA TO TKE-ZD CHAPTER
For our 50th TKE-ZD (Phi Phi Alpha) reunion October 13, 2007, Doc Patterson wrote the article “The History of Phi Phi Alpha/TKE-ZD Chapter. Doc gave an excellent progression of the development of the chapter from a “literary society” to an Academy, to Phi Phi Alpha fraternity. Doc mentioned that Nov. 1956, the Almanian had an article “Phi Phi Alpha Petitions National Fraternity.” (If you have not read Doc’s History of Phi Phi Alpha/TKE ZD Chapter, I suggest you read it. It is invaluable to anyone wishing to understand the history of the chapter.)
This article represents the circumstances that resulted in the selection of TKE as the national fraternity Phi Phi Alpha would join. With the help of several fraternity brothers/fraters, namely John Hurst ’57, Thomas Dodd’57, George Huysken ’57, and Bill Klenk ’59, the conditions encouraging our decision to merge with Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) are detailed.
Unfortunately, I do not have any documented Phi meeting minutes, Almanian articles or printed material to verify the long term discussions and rationale used to make the decision to join a national fraternity. We are fortunate to have photos/written documents about our installation as TKE ZD (Phi Phi Alpha) Chapter. I am using emails to me or Bill Klenk by those mentioned above (along with my memory) to write this portion of our chapter history.
THINKING LOCAL TO NATIONAL FRATERNITY
There were three (3) fraternities and three (3) sororities at Alma College during my years as an undergraduate at Alma College. Phi Phi Alpha, a local fraternity, enjoyed a great reputation among both male and female students. During the 1950’s Greek organizations were increasing in popularity around the United States on most college/university campuses. Many of the national fraternities were searching for “local” fraternities to join national organizations. Of the six (6) Greek organizations at Alma College, there was one national fraternity.
Phi Phi Alpha was not only the first fraternity at Alma College, it was the largest, it had the most alumni, it owned its own house, and many former members worked as faculty members and coaches at Alma College. Why join a national? Which national would be the best for our future? What would we give up from our status as a local and what would we gain by becoming a national fraternity? These were the questions that were being posed as the chapter decided its future.
These questions began as discussions among those of us at 313 Philadelphia St. in the spring of 1956. Most discussions did not include more than two, three or four Actives. Fall 1956 brought more discussions about the advantages and disadvantages of our local becoming a national fraternity. Soon word was going around campus that the Phi’s were thinking of going national.
Before long a few of the Alma College faculty members who were members of Phi Phi Alpha herd the possibility of our Phi chapter joining a national fraternity. These faculty members told some of our actives they would not support a national fraternity. They strongly believed this national move would not benefit the fraternity.
CHOOSING A NATIONAL FRATERNITY
Many of our Phi brothers visited other college/university campuses. Sometime in the fall of 1956, the process of affiliating with a national fraternity became more focused. George Huysken, Al Cordill, Dick Schluckbier, Jim Amell, Tom Dodd, John Hurst (all class of 1957) took an interest in expediting the nationalization of the fraternity from an “idea” to a “process.” For names I omitted, I apologize.
I’ve thought of this group as an ad hoc “committee.” It was decided they ought to pick up information on national fraternities when they visited another campus. We got reports from the Phi members (including me) that visited other campuses. Among the houses visited were those at Michigan State, University of Michigan, Central Michigan, Hillsdale, Albion, Adrian and others.
A few of the national fraternities we visited had values similar to ours. Others had different values and some were considered “stuff shirts.” All of them had “rituals” different than our “Hell Week”, gunny sack underwear, and Scarpooch.” Fraternities we considered besides Tau Kappa Epsilon were Alpha Tau Omega, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Nu, Phi Sigma Epsilon.
Another consideration important to our decision was the number of colleges/universities Chapters in the State of Michigan. Also considered was the number of Chapters in the United States. Important considerations besides Chapters were the support we could expect from the National Headquarters, the initiation fee to go Active, pledge recruitment programs, pledge training/education, national conclaves, newsletter, other publications, and alumni programs. The National TKE did their homework. They presented us with a good marketing plan that exceeded our expectations.
SELECTION OF TAU KAPPA EPSILON
Our vote to affiliate with TKE was done in the fall of 1956. The affiliation ceremony was held in the fall of 1957. I am not aware of any written records of our Phi membership vote to join TKE. Thus, we are not positive of the fraternity brother that made the motion or the one who seconded the motion to join TKE. There would have been a discussion period since at least four fraternities were in the “running” for our Phi Chapter.
In the spring of 1957, I was elected as the last President of Phi Phi Alpha. The installation into Tau Kappa Epsilon was Oct. 13, 1957. Plans were made for the Installation Ceremony at 313 Philadelphia St. We were given instructions on the names used for fraternity officers (which some of us did not yet understand the reasoning behind the names). We had a candle light procedure, learned the fraternity handshake and repeated our vows to Tau Kappa Epsilon.
Over the years after Phi Phi Alpha became TKE ZD (Phi Phi Alpha), Alma College Faculty members that were Phi Phi Alpha forgave our “disloyalty.” Many of their sons eventually pledged and became active in TKE ZD.
We learned to respect the titles used for TKE ZD officers and committees. The non-biased standards of TKE have now been adopted by other national fraternities and sororities. We currently have an active TKE ZD Alumni group with officers that provide assistance to the TKE ZD Chapter House. We have a super Chapter Advisor in Kirk Smith; we have a great group of Actives. This past winter we reached a milestone when the chapter welcomed its 1,000 TKE member.
If any of you reading this “past history” have information not included here, kindly contact Alumni Historian Bill Klenk, Greg Hatcher, Alumni Association President, or myself. We want to have an accurate fraternity history. As the last President of Phi Phi Alpha and the first Prytanis of TKE ZD, I had the distinct honor of being the first frater to sign our Chapter Scroll as Number 0001. This is one of my greatest honors. The Fraternity for Life has a goal of encouraging all of our Scroll Active and Alumni Members to seek ways to make positive contributions of money, service and support to our fraternity (TKE ZD Chapter), and do what we can to attract new pledges to become Actives.