1967 – 1978: Tau Kappa Epsilon’s roots in West Georgia
The history of Tau Kappa Epsilon at West Georgia started at a time when young Americans were taking an active role in a counter-culture social revolution. This generation was aware, adept and had the drive and fortitude to make their dreams a reality.
The University of West Georgia (or West Georgia College as it was known then) began accepting local social fraternities on campus at the beginning of fall Quarter of 1967. These social fraternities were ‘local fraternities’ with no correlation to a national headquarters or any other influence outside of the college.
Upon entering the college in the years 1967 and 1968 three colleagues decided to form the sixth social fraternity on campus. Roy Rogers, Kip Cloward and John Dye were these three men who met and decided upon the action of beginning Pi Kappa Delta (πKΔ). On October 12, 1969, Pi Kappa Delta was formed. By the beginning of winter quarter in January of 1970, the fraternity had exploded into a band of thirty brothers. On April 9th, the fraternity of Pi Kappa Delta was renamed Pi Kappa Sigma (πKΣ), as a national fraternity with the πKΔ letters was already in existence. The fraternity submitted a complete constitution to the Interfraternal council (IFC) which was approved on April 20th, 1970.
In the fall quarter of 1970, the first national fraternity was accepted on campus. The brothers of Pi Kappa Sigma were ready to take the next step and become a part of something bigger. After considering several nationals, the members decided by majority vote to affiliate with Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) on February 1, 1971. Pi Kappa Sigma was accepted as a local affiliate of TKE on February 6, 1971.
Upon inception, these men decided to dedicate their efforts to charity and volunteerism. They worked with the Carrollton Welfare office to initiate a clothing drive and delivered the clothing to families in need. They bought and prepared a turkey for six needy families and delivered them during the Christmas holidays. They participated in numerous clean-up drives to help keep Carrollton beautiful.
In the fall of 1970, 26 brothers and candidates participated in a twenty-three hour 50 mile walk that ended at the state capitol steps. The project initiated in order to re-build Peruvian schools destroyed during an earthquake. During the walk, the members alternated pushing a wheelbarrow filled with thirty bricks, symbolizing the need for money for construction materials. Upon arrival, three of these brick were purchased for $50 a piece by then governor Maddox, Secretary Zell Miller and Secretary of State Ben Fortson. The remaining twenty-seven bricks were left in Governor Maddox’s office until each one was sold. By the time the last brick was gone, approximately $1,150 was collected and gifted for the cause.
By 1978, the chapter size had diminished and the chapter folded. Throughout the years, these men excelled in sports. Brothers were active in football, basketball, softball, cross-country, golf, tennis track and volleyball. After initiating 130 men into The Bond, the fraternity ran out of steam and was to remain idle for the next decade.
1986-1997: From Passionate Rivals to United Brothers
Without a division I NCAA sports team, UWG has always had a competitive intramural sports program. An intense rivalry between two of the school’s flag football teams developed over the years as the race to dominance brought bragging rights for the victorious.
A rag-tag group of outcasts with both nothing and everything to prove on the gridiron formed a band of no-holds-barred competitive teammates named The Bombers. The Bombers represented ‘Every Man’: Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, jocks, metalheads and preppies all culminating in one unified team. The team was at statistically mismatched and at odds with the athletic ability of their sworn rivals, The Cruisers. Every fall, both teams would both rise to the top and meet in a heated post season match. The Bombers would play with all their might, but would ultimately cave to the sheer physical force that was The Cruisers.
As much as the rivalry pitted these men against each other on the field, the sportsmanship of both teams led to a great comradery off the field. A candid conversation between The Cruisers quarterback and coach Tim Coley and the Bombers coach Tray Baggarly validated that these men strived to become something more than just ‘a group of guys who hang out.’ They wanted to be true brothers for life with a lasting legacy on West Georgia soil. The available selection of cliqued fraternities on campus did not appeal to the diverseness of this group enough to become a part of an already established organization. After much research, they learned of the history of Tau Kappa Epsilon at West Georgia and found that logistically, it would be the best choice in gaining an audience with a national fraternity to lay down new roots. After six weeks of organized meetings between the West Georgia IFC and TKE’s southern regional president, these soon to be brothers were green-lighted to move forward into establishment.
These men fought a furious uphill battle and poured every ounce of themselves into reestablishing the Xi-Theta chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon. After about two years of drafting constitutions, countless hours of recruiting and following all the requirements to the finest detail, Xi-Theta received their second charter on May 7, 1988.
In their era, these men focused strongly on philanthropy and continued their love of sports. They worked closely with Boy Scouts of America and Camp Sunshine, raising money and volunteering their time. Many of the brothers were also members of the Student Government Association, the West Georgia soccer team and any intramural sport in which they could participate. These men also are tied to an important piece of Tau Kappa Epsilon’s national history, as they founded the TKE Quarterly newsletter / magazine in 1994. The Grand Chapter received a copy of the newsletter and picked up the pusblishment on an international level.
In the fall 1996 through the spring of 1997, a perfect storm of events led to the undoing of the chapter at West Georgia. TKE was a mighty fraternity on campus with a positive reputation on campus, but as the story goes even giants fall. At the time “West Georgia College” was known as a ‘suitcase college.’ Many students would attend West Georgia for two years, and then transfer to a larger university to complete their education as the selection of available majors was limited. The fraternity lost around 15 brothers to transfers that year. The fraternity also had a large percentage of the active brothers graduating and had not recruited enough younger students to keep the fraternity house or keep the chapter alive. Without the brothers, the chapter ultimately dissolved around the end of the 1997 school year.
1999 – 2003: The Phoenix Rises From the Ashes: Part 1
In the late fall of 1999 there were signs on the campus of the State University of West Georgia. A unique poster hung all around campus from the student center to the dorm halls of Pritchard, Roberts, and Row. This poster had an image of a phoenix rising from the ashes and the words stating that “Xi-Theta Chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon will rise again form the ashes to reclaim its rightful destiny on top of UWG.” Spearheaded by the efforts of Xi-Theta Alumni such as Todd Farmer, Eric McDonald, Rex Bain, Brett Aks, and Frater Denis “Buckwheat” Perry from internationals, the 420th colony of Tau Kappa Epsilon was born. With a proud history and tradition at the school, Xi-Theta was back.
The word started to spread like wild fire. Out of the dorms they started to recruit. What started in Pritchard Hall, spread to Roberts Hall, and then to Row. It all culminated in a meeting in student center. There was a man in the front of the room who will never be forgotten. The man had wired eyes, big grey hair, an inviting voice, and with words that could make anyone believe anything. Buckwheat’s words echoed in to the ears of the nearly all freshmen. Not for wealth, rank or honor, but for personal worth and character. He went thought the history of TKE, the prestigious alumni, and what they stood for. He told them about the ‘Opportunity Out of Defeat’ speech and applied it to the chapter's very situation. That night set the course of events that lead to the re-founding of Xi-Theta Chapter.
An explosion of recruitment, excitement, and revelry ended with a cold realization in spring of 2000. The grades came in, the colony dropped from 60 to 8, they were on social probation, and they were attempting to found a not-for-profit organization. They had 7 freshmen and 1 senior. Nationals were out of the picture, Alumni support was limited to their schedules, but the guidance of Rex Bain, Eric McDonald, Brett Aks, Rodney Riley, Jay Davis, and Jeremy Spivey was crucial to this new colony’s direction. They had no clue what to do, but carried the burden of failure on their shoulders. The decision was made to persevere and keep moving forward. This lead to the continuation of the Xi-Theta with the initiations of Andrew Ashworth, Eric Carson, John Brister, Charles Broom, John Pendley, Scott MacDonald, John Hughey, Matthew Evans, Scott Albea, Glenn Laney and the first candidates Frank Harbin and Greg Silva.
The colony got their first house on Simms Street before the fall of 2000 and began their first official school year on campus. Over the next few years there were many ups and downs. They struggled to recruit members at formal rush, but thrived during informal. They then moved from Simms Street to Newnan Road and to Maple Street in 2002. They surged in numbers and dwindled down to few. New fraters such as Lebron Weathers, Mark Auclair, Lee Harper, Sandip Patel, Brad Beighley, Michael Kelly were recruited and stepped up to become leaders with the remaining original Spring 2000 initiates during this period. They threw many social gatherings and did their best to participate on campus to meet the requirements for chartering.
They refocused on the importance of grades, philanthropy, and campus participation. With the institution of study halls and time management, the colony put together a Top Grades run for four consecutive semesters. Supporting the Special Olympics, Relay for Life, Children’s Miracle Network of Atlanta, Good Will, and the Carroll County Food Bank, events such as “Shave a Teke” and the “Polar Bear Swim” raised close to $4000 dollars towards Relay for Life and Children’s Miracle Network of Atlanta from 2001-2003. The 2002 “Teke or Treat” had the colony trick-or-treating for canned goods and gained close to 300 non-perishable items for donation. The 2002 “Clothing Drive” literally put together a truck load of used clothing for donation. They immersed themselves on campus in the Office of Student Activities, Alpha Phi Omega, Phi Sigma Pi, and SGA earning multiple Order of Omega Awards for some of the members in 2003.
As a colony, we were encouraged to travel to other chapters. From the first trip to Southern Polytechnic University to meet Xi-Chi Chapter, we knew that networking with other established TKE Chapters would be a wealth of knowledge of how to develop our own. traveling to Georgia Tech, Columbus State, the University of Georgia, West Alabama, and even all the way out to New Orleans Conclave in 2001 were some of the places visited to strengthen our bond. The importance of working with other chapters can best be exemplified through the Xi-Chi Teke, Chris "Pokey" Cox, who would become one of the most valuable assets and leaders to Xi-Theta in the completion of our chartering endeavor.
The phoenix was growing and only two more years away from flight at the Chartering Ceremony at Conclave in 2005.