beta theta chapter history

1800s 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s - present

The Twenties

The successful centennial fund drive at the university spurred an equal movement among Betas toward a new house.  The need for more room and modern facilities was felt to top the list of goals for the chapter.

Many feel the famous Beta Blaze, May 1921, was brought about by the ever watchful providence of old Wooglin himself.  Stories of this event live in today's Beta lore; however, the basic event and successful fund drive are described later in this volume.

Following the fire, the chapter moved across the road for the time it took to construct the present house.  These conditions were spartan at best and in the deep cold of February, some of our alums recall the brave deeds of the "Rat Hussars."  It seems it was so cold that the field rats, big ones, came into the house to partake of the warmth and food found in the humble Beta kitchen.  

Special mention should be made for the fund drive and Bill Murray's role therein, and well as Dr. Crawshaw's attention to construction.  In 1923, the new Beta house was became the rallying point for the Beta brothers.  The 30-35 members-in-residence shared study rooms on the second and third floors and slept in the "deep freeze" dormitory also on the third floor.  There were living quarters over the kitchen for the chef and the steward of the chapter.

House meetings were held in the basement chapter room.  These meetings were well organized and covered a wide variety of topics including: house finances, members' achievements, parties, and Beta ritual.  The great closeness that embodied the spirit of the early founders was evident and expressed itself in such activities as songs after dinner, spring and winter proms and elegant treatment for returning alumni.

Colgate's athletic program continued to grow in stature along with the eminence of its faculty.  The fraternity had its share of the competitors in the gridiron and followed the team unswervingly.  The twenties saw us dominate rival Syracuse to the chagrin of the Beta Epsilon chapter.  "Pledging" became more serious business in those days and included the never-to-be forgotten "Dorg Ceremony."

Scholarship, not as central to chapter life as it once had been, slipped from time to time, but the Betas provided for its reemergence.  In the twenties, this was accomplished by requiring frosh to study in the dining room under strict upper class supervision.  This regime undoubtedly generated the academic tradition evident in the late twenties.

Prohibition, in effect, fostered much creativity in both individual life-style and party habits.  The rule of "no booze in the house" for example, was technically respected by hanging the potent potables out the window.  Though antics were frequently observed, including the old "booze on a string" trick, decorum was strictly enforced, as ever, at dinner when the jackets and ties were mandatory.

Individuals excelled in music, sport and scholarship and the annual initiation banquet.  Sunday faculty dinner and graduation teas were traditions maintained in fine fashion.