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Pi Kappa Alpha. Gamma Rho Chapter (Northwestern University)

 Organization

The Gamma Rho chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha came to Northwestern in 1932 to replace the local Phi Nu Beta. Phi Nu Beta, originally called Nu Beta Phi, had been organized on December 10, 1922 as a professional commerce fraternity. Membership was limited to juniors and seniors. Under the leadership of William Parsch, the first president, the usual fraternity difficulties were met and overcome. During the academic year 1922-1923, Nu Beta Phi merged with the Alpha chapter of Phi Nu Beta, a commerce fraternity on the Northwestern downtown campus and became a social professional fraternity, retaining commerce membership. When a charter was sought in 1924, the name of the fraternity was changed to Phi Nu Beta. At this time, Phi Nu Beta became a purely social fraternity and sought pledges among the freshmen class.

A Gamma chapter of Phi Nu Beta was installed at the University of Illinois, but the plan for the development of the fraternity on a national scale was soon abandoned. In 1931, Phi Nu Beta petitioned the Supreme Council of Pi Kappa Alpha, a long-established national fraternity, for a charter. The petition was accepted, and in 1932 the Gamma Rho chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha was established at Northwestern. From 1924-1925 Phi Nu Beta listed its address in the Student Directory as 1892 Sheridan Road. From 1925 until 1936, the fraternity rented a house from the university located at 1819 Orrington Avenue while it developed a house fund to build a permanent house in the fraternity quadrangle. In 1937 the dream of the chapter having its own house was realized with the opening of the North Campus quadrangle. During the academic year 1943-1944, Pi Kappa Alpha, like most other fraternities, loaned its house to sailors and marines stationed on the campus. For the following two years, the fraternities were still without houses, using the local “contact man” system for an address and for rushing purposes. From 1946 to the present, the Student Directory has listed the address of the fraternity as 566 Lincoln Avenue.

Traditionally, Pike was active socially. Annual parties held during the 1950's and 60's included the Purple Passion Party, the search for the most passionate couple of Pike; the House of Blue Lights Party, featuring French costumes; and the annual Dream Girl Formal. Homecoming was always an important event for the fraternity. From 1952-1963, Pike won the Homecoming Float and Decorating Contest seven times and placed second or third four other years.

Scholastic achievement by Pike members has fluctuated during the years. In the academic year 1939-1940, Pike led all men's houses in scholarship. During the early 1960's, Pike began a pledge scholarship program whereby each Pike freshman was assigned an upperclassman advisor advanced in the freshman's field. The program received the written commendation of the Dean of Men. However, by 1964 Gamma Rho was suffering from academic problems and low grades. By 1968, the academic situation had improved greatly, and of the twenty-nine fraternities on campus, Pike ranked fifth scholastically.

In recent years Pike has encountered many problems. The financial records show that since 1970 the chapter has been operating at a substantial loss. In an attempt to rectify financial difficulties, in 1973 Pike went “co-ed.” In the academic year 1973-1974, five females were members of the fraternity.

Problems have not been financial alone. In the spring of 1975, Pike's national organization became very concerned about the Gamma Rho chapter. Representatives from the national organization visited the chapter and charged it with neglect of the house, alleged smoking of marijuana, and a failure to maintain good relations with the alumni. It then recommended a plan of action for the improvement of the chapter, which included the appointment of a resident counselor to work directly with the chapter. But Gamma Rho secured permission to implement its own plans for recovery, including an intensified rushing program, regular publication of an alumni newsletter, and an increased number of activities for the chapter.

This program seemed to be working, but in October 1976, the national organization publicly expressed concern over reports of the alleged use of marijuana and lack of fraternity ritual at the house. None of these charges were substantiated. In reply to the charges, Pike members maintained that the national group was attempting to force them to conform to a certain lifestyle and hinted that they might withdraw from the fraternity. On November 20, 1976, the NU Pike housing corporation, which owns the house at 566 Lincoln Avenue, decided to close the NU chapter as of January 2, 1977. The housing corporation received the authority to make the final decision at the fall meeting of Pi Kappa Alpha Supreme Council held November 5–7, 1976 in Memphis, Tenn. The national organization is planning to start a new NU chapter winter quarter. Meanwhile, NU Pikes have hired legal counsel to fight the closing of the chapter.

Corrections on Inventory for the Pi Kappa Alpha Records

Corrections provided by: Irene Potocki, Member of Pi Kappa Alpha January 1977

1) History - page 3, paragraph 2

The history states that because of financial difficulties, Pike went “co-ed” in 1973. I found nothing in the records giving this reason for recruiting female membership. In fact, the women probably did very little to improve the chapter's financial situation since they were only local, “social” members, rather than full members of the fraternity. They paid only a fraction of the usual membership fees. Now, I believe, women pay about $40.00 per quarter, while the men pay over $110.00. In any case, I don't think women's fees would make much of a difference in a financial debt of several thousand dollars.

2) page 2, paragraph 2

Although Purple Passion Parties were held annually, I believe the “search for the most passionate couple of Pike” only happened one year. The National found out about it and I believe, tried to put a stop to it.

3) page 2, last paragraph

This needs only a little clearing up.

In the early 1960's, Pike began a pledge scholarship program because of bad grades. Bad grades did not follow as a result of the program. For three years during the early 1960's, the chapter was on scholastic probation by the National who threatened to pull the charter if bad grades continued much longer.

4) page 3, last paragraph

Actually, the National became “very concerned” about the chapter much earlier, in a marijuana “scandal” in 1967. Also, the chapter went “incommunicado” with the National for a couple of years, sometime around 1971 or 1972, I'm not sure of the exact years.

5) page 4

On November 20, the housing corporation told the members it was closing the house, not the chapter (only the National can close the chapter) as of the last day of Fall Quarter (December 15? 17?) not on January 2.

Also, I'm not sure where you got the information that the National was planning to start a new chapter Winter Quarter. As far as I know, this was only a rumor.

6) Chapter minutes from November 18, 1968- October 5, 1970 are not included in the collection.

7) A folder of minutes for 1976 has been added to the records.

Pi Kappa Alpha, Location and Members

Academic Year: 1922-23; Address: Not listed; Members: not given

Academic Year: 1923-24; Address: Not listed; Members: not given

Academic Year: 1924-25; Address: 1892 Sheridan Rd.; Members: 12

Academic Year: 1925-26; Address: 1819 Orrington Ave.; Members: 20

Academic Year: 1926-27; Address: 1819 Orrington Ave.; Members: 28

Academic Year: 1927-28; Address: 1819 Orrington Ave.; Members: 37

Academic Year: 1928-29; Address: 1819 Orrington Ave.; Members: 35

Academic Year: 1929-30; Address: 1819 Orrington Ave.; Members: 36

Academic Year: 1930-31; Address: 1819 Orrington Ave.; Members: 28

Academic Year: 1931-32; Address: 1819 Orrington Ave.; Members: 24

Academic Year: 1932-33; Address: 1819 Orrington Ave.; Members: 24

Academic Year: 1933-34; Address: 1819 Orrington Ave.; Members: 25

Academic Year: 1934-35; Address: 1819 Orrington Ave.; Members: 22

Academic Year: 1935-36; Address: not listed; Members: 19

Academic Year: Academic Year: 1936-37; Address: 1819 Orrington Ave.; Active members: 13; Pledges: 7

Academic Year: Academic Year: 1937-38; Address: North Campus; Active members: 19; Pledges: 13

Academic Year: 1938-39; Address: North Campus; Active members: 24; Pledges: 29

Academic Year: 1939-40; Address: North Campus; Active members: 32; Pledges: 23

Academic Year: 1940-41; Address: North Campus; Active members: 30; Pledges: 40

Academic Year: 1941-42; Address: North Campus; Active members: 43; Pledges: 23

Academic Year: 1942-43; Address: North Campus; Active members: 43; Pledges: 22

Academic Year: 1943-44; Address: Fraternities loaned houses to servicemen “Contact man”; Active members: not given

Academic Year: 1944-45; Address: “Contact man”; Active members: 30; Pledges: 19

Academic Year: 1945-46; Address: “Contact man”; Active members: 28; Pledges: 8

Academic Year: 1946-47; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 55; Pledges: 33

Academic Year: 1947-48; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 70; Pledges: 20

Academic Year: 1948-49; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 65; Pledges: 20

Academic Year: 1949-50; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 58; Pledges: 16

Academic Year: 1950-51; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 40; Pledges: 12

Academic Year: 1951-52; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 35; Pledges: 22

Academic Year: 1952-53; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 35; Pledges: 18

Academic Year: 1953-54; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 35; Pledges: 14

Academic Year: 1954-55; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 39; Pledges: 14

Academic Year: 1955-56; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 40; Pledges: 17

Academic Year: 1956-57; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 35; Pledges: 23

Academic Year: 1957-58; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 34; Pledges: 14

Academic Year: 1958-59; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 36; Pledges: 24

Academic Year: 1959-60; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 46; Pledges: 23

Academic Year: 1960-61; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 45; Pledges: 20

Academic Year: 1961-62; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 37; Pledges: 21

Academic Year: 1962-63; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 46; Pledges: 21

Academic Year: 1963-64; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 41; Pledges: 20

Academic Year: 1964-65; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 44; Pledges: 20

Academic Year: 1965-66; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 42; Pledges: 17

Academic Year: 1966-67; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 40; Pledges: 21

Academic Year: 1967-68; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 39; Pledges: 20

Academic Year: 1968-69; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 42; Pledges: 26

Academic Year: 1969-70; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 53; Pledges: 18

Academic Year: 1970-71; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 38; Pledges: 21

Academic Year: 1971-72; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 36; Pledges: 8

Academic Year: 1972-73; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 34; Pledges: 17

Academic Year: 1973-74; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 38; Pledges: 10

Academic Year: 1974-75; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: not listed

Academic Year: 1975-76; Address: 566 Lincoln Ave.; Active members: 17; Pledges: 16

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Pi Kappa Alpha (formerly Phi Nu Beta) Gamma Rho Chapter Records

 Collection
Identifier: 31/6/6
Abstract This series consists of the records of the Northwestern University Chapter (Gamma Rho) of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. The records reflect the day-to-day activities of the fraternity, especially its financial transactions and social functions. Included among the records are correspondence, financial records, membership lists, minutes of meetings, publications of both the chapter and the national fraternity, and newspaper clippings. Also present are chapter histories for the years 1964-65,...
Dates: 1932-1976