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A Brief History of Iota Nu Zeta

Our chapter began a maverick local fraternity known as Upsilon Sigma. James Andrew Elkins, Jr., better know as "Ajax" founded Upsilon Sigma. As a pledge of another fraternity, he was "asked" to wash an active member's car. He kindly did so, using a bottle of Ajax. After seeing the rather negative effects of this act, Ajax was promptly expelled as a pledge. Their loss was our gain. Ajax got together with a few others who had recently ended a short career of pledgeship. This was indeed a group of mavericks. As brother Coley McGinnis said, "The whole group, each a unique personality, but all working together to build a new fraternity, which would regard all of its members as men, to be treated with respect and dignity, with individuality to be encouraged rather than submerged into a 'group personality.'" On February 3, 1961. the ten founding fathers held Upsilon Sigma's first formal meeting. Officers were elected on February 7th, with "Ajax" Elkins as President.

Although Upsilon Sigma had decided early on not to affiliate with a national fraternity, contacts with various national organizations were established. During the months of February and March, the brothers of Upsilon Sigma were busy talking with national representatives from organizations such as Sigma Phi Epsilon, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Chi Psi, Sigma Chi, and Lambda Chi Alpha.

At the February 28th meeting, the true character of Upsilon Sigma began to shine through. The group rejected an offer of $100,000 from a national fraternity to build a house. That fraternity also requested a complete family history of each member, one of whom was an American Indian. The members decided that if any of the members were unacceptable to any national fraternity, then that organization would be unacceptable to Upsilon Sigma. In addition, they decided that building their own house would be a much more appreciable experience.

During this period of searching, John MacDonald, a member of Theta-Psi Zeta at Louisiana Tech, came into contact with the group. After serving there years in the army, MacDonald transferred to Sewanee. Later, George Spasyk, who was then the Service Secretary for Lambda Chi Alpha, came to visit the local organization. Shortly thereafter, Upsilon Sigma pensioned Lambda Chi Alpha for colony status.

The rest, as they say, is history. That Spring, eighteen members were initiated by members of Zeta-Phi Zeta from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and the organization moved into their first house in the Fall. On April 6, 1963, our chapter was installed as Iota-Nu Zeta.

Since then, our chapter has moved into its fourth house, where we reside today. Today we have 484 intiated brothers.

--Taken from an article by Coley McGinnis (IN 27); May 1974 /Cliffhanger/ (Possibly the last one made).

(last modified 2004-02-01)       [Login]
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Sewanee Lambda Chi Alpha