Greek houses in Hillsdale are known for their philanthropy events. Kappa Kappa Gamma hosts Cupcake Wars, Chi Omega hosts a pancake breakfast and Sigma Chi holds Derby Days.
During the 1980s, fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon blended its fundraising with another aspect of fraternity life: kegs.
On Nov. 6, 1980, Collegian staff writer Michael Lord wrote, “The TKE ‘Keg Roll’ for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital ended this past Saturday, November 1st, with what can be labeled a veritable success.”
He continued, “The 20 hour marathon was estimated to have traversed a total of 125 miles around the Hillsdale campus area. The keg was kept rolling the entire time by TKE members, including guest celebrity Randy Champion who ran a late night leg of the marathon.”
Basically, the fraternity rolled a keg in a loop around Hillsdale’s campus.
An Oct. 15, 1981 article in The Collegian described this process.
The article read, “The keg rolled from 10:00 p.m. on Friday, all through the night, until 2:00 p.m. on Saturday when it rolled on to the homecoming football field. The keg rolled about 100 miles. Starting from the TKE house it rolled south on West St. to the ‘Greenhouse’ where it turned east to Hillsdale St.”
This tactic proved to be surprisingly successful.
On Oct. 15, 1981 The Collegian reported, “This fall’s effort by the TKE Iota Nu Chapter raised approximately $1,500.”
Earlier that month on Oct. 8, 1981, Liz Viviano reported “They were also presented with the ODK Award for their keg roll.”
The event was an all-house ordeal.
On Oct. 15, 1981 The Collegian quoted TKE President Steve Lord: “Everybody in the fraternity did something to help out. Whether it was actually pulling the keg, raising donations, organizing, or advertising each member helped out. Members were encouraged with free ‘keg roll’ T‑shirts for those who raised a large sum of money and for those who ran the keg in the dreadful early morning hours.”
As the event grew more and more successful, the TKEs began talks of expanding it.
Lord said, “There was also serious talk among TKE members of stretching the 125 mile marathon into a one-way effort to downtown Detroit.”
Unfortunately, there are no further reports on this and we can only assume that these plans were never realized.
As the new semester begins, there is always room for more philanthropy events. Which fraternity is brave enough to bring the keg roll back?