On January 10, 1899, five Illinois Wesleyan University students, members of an organization known as the Knights of Classic Lore, came together to create a different kind of fraternity. Frustrated by other fraternities that seemed to place too much emphasis on class and social status, they created a brotherhood whose ideals would be personal worth and character, not wealth, rank, nor honor. In this spirit, McNutt, Settles, Mayer, Truitt, and Atkinson came together to form Tau Kappa Epsilon. Click here for a more in-depth story and for some more information.
The Triangle is Formed
In 1912, Tau Kappa Epsilon’s third chapter was chartered at the University of Illinois , forming an equilateral triangle out of the first three chapters loacated in Bloomington , Decatur , and Champaign , IL . As such, the Fraternity chose the equilateral triangle as its symbol to honor the omen created by the geographic triangle. The equilateral triangle is a strong shape, which is difficult to break because when placed under pressure on one side, the other sides become stronger. Their hope was that the men of Tau Kappa Epsilon could display a similar strength by depending on one another and growing as men.
TKE comes to Wabash
The Karnak Club was formed in 1921 at Wabash College in Crawfordsville , Indiana , by C. O. Bicking, F.D. Hite, J.V. Starr, R.W. Roley, and E.P. Given. An early initiate, Richard Banta, later became a loyal servant of the College; he first served as secretary and treasurer and later held an office in admissions. Around 1924, the Karnak Club noted that the then current chapters of Tau Kappa Epsilon seemed to value just what their fraternity embodied: a willingness to accept all people, regardless of race or socioeconomic class. In 1927, the men of the Karnak Club successfully petitioned to become a chapter of a new and fast-growing regional fraternity called Tau Kappa Epsilon. Thus, the triangle first arrived at Wabash College in June of 1927. The TKE’s thrived for several years, as the Karnaks had, and took up leadership positions all over campus. Unfortunately, though, the Depression years were a very difficult time for fraternities at Wabash , and due to a gradual decrease in enrollment, the Alpha Alpha chapter was forced to disband in 1936.
The Triangle Returns to Wabash
In 1962, the Alpha Alpha chapter returned to Wabash . Our fraternity quickly distinguished itself by being the first on campus to initiate an African-American member and one of only two on campus willing to accept Jewish members. In 1990, in accordance with their mission to live lives of Charity, Love, and Esteem, TKE International outlawed hazing in its Chapters, the first to do so on that level. To this day, we still pride ourselves on our diversity and acceptance of members on their own merits in the spirit of Charity, Love, and Esteem.
The same things that brought the Karnak Club to Tau Kappa Epsilon are the same things that are still bringing men here today.