The men of Delta Tau Delta fraternity will celebrate their 150th anniversary next month, marking a century and a half since the founding of the Kappa chapter of Delta Tau Delta on Hillsdale’s campus.
The fraternity plans to celebrate on Oct. 14 with a day of festivities for alumni. International President Jim Garboden of Delta Tau Delta’s national organization will speak at a dinner that night. Alumni are also invited to attend the fraternity’s tailgate at homecoming this weekend.
“It’s solidifying our historicity, and moreso embracing the values of brotherhood and realizing that it’s not just the brothers you spend your four years of undergraduate with,” senior Josh Brooks, Delta Tau Delta president, said. “This brotherhood reaches back to 1867, and beyond that, nationally it reaches back to 1858.”
Sophomore Social Chair Mitchell Biggs said he and sophomore Josh Waechter are “doing the grunt work” on the anniversary festivities. Following an Oct. 14 football tailgate, the brothers will offer tours of campus to alumni, before bringing them to see the fraternity house.
“A lot of the brothers didn’t know until last year, when the 150th rolled around, that Kappa chapter is the oldest fraternity on campus,” Biggs said. “We started digging through all the history in the basement because we have books and yearbooks and old composite pictures. You realize how far back the fraternity goes.”
The house will become a museum of Delt history, with quotes, pictures, original rosters, and one of the original members’ Bibles. Following the house walkthrough, alumni are invited to a cocktail party in the Searle Center and the dinner, at which Garboden will speak. President Larry Arnn’s presence is “tentative,” according to Biggs.
According to junior Adam Cieply, an excutive officer within the fraternity, the members uncovered artifacts of the fraternity in its basement. The upcoming event, he explained, is a way for the fraternity to “orient” themselves.
Delta Tau Delta’s Kappa chapter was originally founded in secret at Hillsdale, according to the fraternity’s secretary and chaplain Chris Sturges, a junior. The original members were expelled for being part of a secret letter society, which was not allowed on campus in 1867. However, upon seeing who the brothers were when they showed up on campus wearing their badges the next day, the administration rethought its anti-Greek policy. The fraternity also brought Kappa Kappa Gamma, Hillsdale College’s first sorority, to campus in 1881.
“When they looked to see who was there, it was all the leaders of the classes,” Sturges said.
The Hillsdale charter of Delta Tau Delta is the 10th chapter of more than 200 across America. It helped draft the bylaws and constitution of the national organization, according to Brooks. However, it was also the subject of controversy when the college removed it from campus in 2003. Since returning in 2009, the fraternity has made an effort to distance itself from trouble.
“The fact that we have survived 150 years, that we have gone through a lot of stuff including being kicked off campus, it’s a testament to the values that we and the alumni hold,” Sturges said.
Alumni who RSVP to the Oct. 14th celebration will get the opportunity to visit and view artifacts collected by the undergraduate fraternity members.
“We want to remind ourselves of our chapter,” Cieply said. “We have a storied history and we need to focus on that.”