The Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity was founded at the University of Virginia on March 1, 1868. At the time, the University of Virginia was the fifth largest school in the United States, and was considered the first truly American state university, because it was the first to be established totally free from religious control.
It all started in Room 47 West Range when Frederick Southgate Taylor turned to Littleton Waller Tazewell, his cousin and roommate, for help in starting a new fraternity. Also present were James Benjamin Sclater, Jr., a schoolmate of Tazewell, and Sclater’s roommate, Robertson Howard. Those four men voted to add a fifth to their group and chose Julian Edward Wood. In addition, William Alexander, probably a friend of Sclater, was proposed for membership and admitted as a founder.
The essence of the Founders’ vision for Pi Kappa Alpha can be found in its Preamble. A committee was first suggested by Brother William Alexander “to draw up a statement of the origin and the organization of the Fraternity.” The committee was composed of brothers Robertson Howard and Littleton Waller Tazewell.
The resulting statement is now referred to as the Preamble.
“For the establishment of friendship on a firmer and more lasting basis; for the promotion of brotherly love and kind feeling; for the mutual benefit and advancement of the interests of those with whom we sympathize and deem worthy of our regard; We have resolved to form a fraternity, believing that, thus we can most successfully accomplish our object.”
Timeline & More at: www.pikes.org
The history of Pi Kappa Alpha – Epsilon Gamma is very similar to that of the great Oak. Time after time and year after year they both have exhibited strength and endurance in the face of adversity.
Founded in 1953, the Texas Tech University chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) has been the pinnacle of collegian excellence and resilience to shifting thought and governance of the fraternal system. However, this fortitude does not begin at 1953, but 23 years former when Texas Tech was still in its infancy.
The precursors to Greek organizations at Texas Tech, like many universities, were known as “Social Clubs” with the first being founded in 1928. The most notable of these clubs began in 1930, when a group of eight men banded together to be known as Los Camaradas meaning “The Comrades”. A constitution was drawn and approved by the administration, and at a meeting December 1, 1930 the constitution was signed by its eight chartering members.
Later known as “Los Cams” or “Cams” the club was organized for the purpose of providing a better social recreation for its members, to stimulate closer friendship, and to provide an incentive for a higher type of college work. They strived to promote a more friendly relationship among its members and other students on the campus.
During their 23 years of existence, with a brief hiatus due to World War II, they acquired many accolades by winning intramurals yearly and promoting campus involvement outside the club, at one point they simultaneously occupied the position of Student Council President (later known as SGA) and were social club intramural champions. But, in 1951 to 1953 a great change swept through these clubs making them an entity of the past.
Originally thought to be forbidden by Texas Tech (no proof later found of this), Greek organizations began to seek passage on to campus through the assimilation of the Social Clubs. The formal transformation from Social Clubs to Greek Organizations began in 1952, under the leadership of the Dean of Student Life James G. Allan, when the female only clubs began to form sororities. The original sororities are as follows:
Las Chaparritas → Kappa Kappa Gamma
Sans Souci → Kappa Alpha Theta
Las Vivarachas → Zeta Tau Alpha
DFD → Delta Delta Delta
Ko Shari → Pi Beta Phi
The following year male members of Men’s The Inter-Club Council made the same transition forming the Interfraternity Council. An objective approach was taken for the men through the dissemination of questionnaires to 25 fraternities concerning fraternal history, growth, finances, benefits, and most notably a stress on policies specifically: scholarship, racial distinctions, rushing, pledge training, and almost comically “help versus hell week” to name a few. After reviewing the responses, 13 fraternities were asked to visit Texas Tech where the clubs would then choose their preferences. The original fraternities and their predecessor are shown below:
Los Camaradas → Pi Kappa Alpha
College Club → Kappa Sig
Centaur → Phi Kappa Psi
Silver Key → Phi Delta Theta
The Wranglers → Alpha Tau Omega
Kemas → Phi Gamma Delta
Socii → Sigma Nu
Adelphi → Sigma Alpha Epsilon
On May 16th 1953 6:30pm the Los Camaradas became the 109th chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha known as Epsilon Gamma chapter.
Newly founded and in a new realm the Pikes maintained the Los Cams’ foothold on campus and it’s members went on to become prominent in their industries.
In the 1970s the PIKEs created a philanthropic party entitled “Pikefest” which, little did they know, would grow to be known as the “The Nation’s Largest Social College Event” by Playboy Magazine. Thrown every spring semester, Pikefest was a collaborative effort of all fraternities and sororities, who sponsored booths at the event, to raise money for philanthropic causes which through the years featured artists such as: Willie Nelson, Kenny Chesney, Garth Brooks, and Tim McGraw.
During this time, PIKE dominated Texas Tech’s campus winning 3 consecutive Smythe Awards, Pi Kappa Alpha’a award for top chapter in the country, in a row making them one of the first PIKE chapters in the country to become a “dynasty” chapter.
The chapter continued to produce Pikefest until the early 2000s where they had to discontinue the event due to financial hardships. These hardships had a devastating effect on the chapter and in 2008 Pi Kappa Alpha – Epsilon Gamma was removed from campus and the chapter house demolished.
The chapter didn’t remain silent for long however, recolonizing in 2010 and being awarded their charter on April 21st 2012. Once again displaying their endurance and strength in the face of adversity.
In the 4 years since reinstatement the PIKEs have, simply put, done what PIKEs do. A few of their accomplishments are listed below:
- Over $150,000 raised for cancer research while chairing and operating Texas Tech’s Relay for Life committee
- Ranked as a top recruitment chapter with over 100 active members annually
- 15+ Student Government Senators
- 4 President Select Members
- 5 Mortar Board Members (Top 50 graduating seniors)
- 3 Intramural Titles
- 2013-2014 Student Body President – Luke Cotton
- 2014-2015 Homecoming King – Holton Westbrook
- 2015-2016 Student Body President – Holton Westbrook
- 2015-2016 Raymond L. Orians Excellence Award (Top 25% of all PIKE Chapters)
- 2017-2018 Student Body President – Robbie Meyer
It is worth noting that all of these accomplishments have been achieved without a lodge, as the original was destroyed in 2008. However, a new $2.3 million dollar lodge will be fully constructed and available for formal rush come Fall 2015.
With that, the chapter shows no sign of waning with the changing tides of Texas Tech’s Greek system and will continue to be like the great Oak in face of the adversities. Radiating strength and endurance. Those who choose to become a part of this sacred brotherhood will be embarking on a truly rewarding and lifelong fraternal experience.
More TTU Greek Life History: