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The Greek tradition at Iowa State started in 1875 when the first fraternity, Delta Tau Delta, was established, soon followed by the first sorority, I.C. Sorocis (later known as Pi Beta Phi), in 1877. For over a century, Greek students at Iowa State have prided themselves on the four values of leadership, scholarship, friendship and philanthropy.
Greek Community Timeline at Iowa State
By W.J. Miller, 1961
1858 Iowa State Agriculture College (IAC) founded
1869 First students admitted
1875 First fraternity installed on July 17, 1875, the Omega Chapter of Delta Tau Delta. Meetings were first held in members' rooms, then in lodge halls. President Welch later allowed use of recitation rooms in the Main. There were 150 students at IAC.
1877 First sorority installed on May 11, 1877, the Mu Chapter of I.C. Sororsis (Pi Beta Phi)
1888 Anti-Greek riot on May 25, 1888. Reported in Des Moines Register-RIOTING IN AMES "The anti-secret society men of the college met in a mob last night about 11 o'clock in front of the society rooms in chemical and physical hall, determined to break up a joint meeting of three secret societies. There was great excitement. The windows were broken by stones thrown from the crowd, and the cry 'Down with secret men' came from nearly a hundred students. Water was shut off from artificial fountains in the room and cyanogen gas in combination with carbon bisulphide was liberated in the lower halls for the purpose of driving the societies from the room."
On May 30, the Daily News gave the text petition signed by 150 students directed towards the Board of Trustees asking that the college to expel secret societies. A few days later, five students were arrested for organizing the riot. One of the students, F.E. Davidson, was expelled from the college but was readmitted the next year. He later founded the IAC Student, forerunner of the Iowa State Daily.
1889 Delta Chapter of Delta Delta Delta was installed. Iowa State's second national sorority and the nation's second Delta Delta Delta chapter. It had been hoped that a third Greek group would solve the conflict on campus. This was also important because it "helped break the feeling prevalent among many eastern sororities that a chapter in an agricultural college was beneath their dignity.'
1890 Fraternity problems lead to a shake up in college administration. In November, 1890, the non-fraternity students, including the graduates themselves failed to appear at the baccalaureate service. It was evident that opposition to President Chamberlain's fraternity policy ( he gave the same rights to Greek as to literary societies) was so great that he had lost complete control of the situation. On November 13, 1890, W.I. Chamberlain resigned as president of Iowa State College-a victim of the anti-fraternity students.
1891 February 1, 1891, William Miller Beardshear became president of Iowa State College. He issued the following edict: "All members of college secret fraternities belonging at this date shall have the same relations hitherto authorized by the Board of Trustees, but from this date onward, no other student of this college shall be permitted to join a secret college fraternity.
1892 The Roberts Case: Orris W Roberts vs. W. M. Beardshear, et al. Delta Tau Delta tested the legality of the ban; was decided for the college.
1894 With the death of Omega chapter of Delta Tau Delta in 1894, fraternity life at Iowa State ceased. Greeks gradually disappeared from the campus and with them the hectic days of riot and discord that troubled the college for so long.
1897 In time secret clubs or local fraternities or a sort did more or less become openly established at Iowa State. The Noit Avarats was founded in May, 1897 as a "revolt on the part of twelve congenial souls against the nauseating and villainous cookery in the old Marguret Hall dining room of the college." At first, the Noit Awards limited their membership to twelve men or one tableful in the dining room. This society later became the Alpha Iota Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta. Note-Noit Avartis is "starvation" spelled backwards!
A tableful of Margaret Hall girls formed a club known as the SS girls which eventually became the Sigma Sigma Chapter of Kappa Delta. Other local clubs (among many) which became national fraternities were: Craftsman Club-Acacia; Colonades-Delta Upsilon: Alamo Club-Lambda Chi Alpha; Cadussia-Phi Delta Theta; Ozark-Phi Kappa Psi: Dragon Society-Sigma Alpha Epsilon; Seminole-Tau Kappa Epsilon; Tri Serps-Beta Theta Pi.
1904 President A.B. Storms succeeded President Bearshear who had died in August 1902. The new President lifted the ban on fraternities. He convinced the Board of Trustees that the fraternity bent for substantial housing would take care of many students and give "tone to the community." He was sure that the school had become large enough to permit a number of such organizations to exists without friction and that any student who wished to belong would have a chance to join.
1941 Housemothers were required to live in all fraternity houses by the college.
1943 College leases fraternities. The college used almost all of the Ames fraternity houses for army barracks or women's dorms when the regular women's dorms were used for army and navy trainees. Thus action on the part of the college proved to be a big help to the fraternities who could not have remained open anyway. The houses were returned to the fraternities during the 1944-45 school year.
1949 Dean M.D. Helser, Director of Personnel-"Our fraternities have developed into an important part of college life and they have influenced the intellectual growth, ideals, and activities of many college students. Today they are an integral part of this institution and worthy of the respect and admiration of the students, faculty, and public."