Historical Data Book, Section 2.8:
There have been several hundred student organizations of all types at the University down through the years.
Some lasted for mere days; others lasted longer and had a lasting influence at the university. Only the more
important student organizations are discussed herein. A chronology of the first appearance and oldest organization
of each type follows:
1872 - Debate and Literary Society: Virginia Literary Society; split into Sophsonian and Philomathian Societies
in 1873. Sophsonian changed name to Lee Literary Society in February 1873; Philomathian changed name to
Maury Literary Society in May 1873. Lee and Maury established the first student publication, the Gray Jacket,
in 1875. The societies merged in 1928 and folded in 1929.
1873 - Social Fraternity: Pi Kappa Alpha; Epsilon chapter established Nov. 11, 1873. Secret societies prohibited
at the college after Jan. 1, 1880. Chapter rechartered Feb. 27, 1971 (but not recognized by the university until 1972).
1873 - Religious Organization: Christian Club; succeeded by Young Men's Christian Association in 1882-83 session
1875 - Publication: The Gray Jacket; established by Lee and Maury Literary Societies; published irregularly until
last issue in January 1906. Oldest existing student publication is The Bugle, the student yearbook, first published
1881 - Musical Organization: Glade Cornet Band; succeeded by a cadet marching band in 1892 which, in turn, became
Band Company the following year (still existing).
1891 - Athletic Organization: VAMC Athletic Association; changed name to VPI Athletic Association in1896; later
called the Virginia Tech Athletic Association (still existing).
1892 - Drama Organization: Thespian Club; folded in 1901.
1893 - Curricular Club: Engineering Club; folded in 1908. Oldest existing curricular club is the Amercian Society of
Mechanical Engineers, established in 1915.
1893 - Sectional Club: Pittsylvania Club. Oldest existing sectional club is Eastern Shore Anchor Club, established
1893 - Dance Club: German Club (still existing).
1895 - Choral Organization: Glee Club. Known by several names through the years.
1908 - Student Government: Corps of Cadets; constitution adopted June 1908; merged with Civilian Student Body in
April 1966 to form the Unified Student Body (now Student Government Association).
1921 - Honor Society: Phi Kappa Phi, an overall scholarship honor society (still existing in 1972).
1927 - Extra-curricular, Recognition: Tau Beta Epsilon, recognizing publications leaders; succeeded by Pi
Delta Epsilon in May 1930 (still existing).
1932 - Curricular Recognition Society: Alpha Zeta, agriculture (still existing).
1937 - Extra-curricular, Military: Saber Club; became Scabbard and Blade in April 1938 (still existing).
1968 - Student Union: Student Union Board of Governors.
ATHLETICS - There was no organized sports program in the early days of the college. Baseball was popular,
but games were generally organized on the spur of the moment. The May 1876 issue of the Gray Jacket reported a
baseball game between "Dutch Alley" and the "College Nine," but both teams were composed of VAMC students. The first
known game against an off-campus team was in 1877 when VAMC played Roanoke College and won by a record score of
53-13. VAMC's team probably included townspeople.
The first real effort to organize the college's sports on a formal
basis came in the fall of 1891 when the VAMC Athletic Association was established. James A. Massie was chosen
president, and black and cadet gray were adopted as the college colors. A spirit yell was also chosen: "Rip, Rah, Ree!
Va, Va, Vee! Virginia! Virginia! A. M. C." The following year, a football team and tennis association were added to
the sports program.
As the sports program grew, the college administration decided that more faculty supervision was necessary,
so President McBryde appointed a faculty committee to administer athletic affairs in 1901. James H. Gibboney
'01 was asked to draft a reorganization plan that entrusted athletics to three committees: an advisory council,
executive committee, and faculty committee on athletics (concerned primarily with eligibilty). This plan was
cumbersome, however, so another reorganization was made in 1904 with Gibboney in the newly created post of
graduate manager. Gibboney formed a new plan that had an Athletic Council entrusted with compIete control over
college athletics; he also specified that every student be enrolled as a member of the Athletic Association
The association founded the student weekly newspaper, The Virginia Tech (now Collegiate
Times), in October 1903 and operated it as the official organ of the Athletic Association until the student
body assumed control in April 1931. The association owned and operated the College Book Store (now University
Book Store) from March 1911 until VPI Facilities Inc. assumed control in July 1968.
Tech has had six athletic directors since R.M. Brown was named the first in 1907-08. The list, by terms:
1908, R.M. Brown; 1909, B.B. Bocock; 1910, L.W. Reiss; 1911-19, post abolished; 1920-34, C.P. Miles; 1935-50,
W.L. Younger; 1951-present, F.0. Moseley.
The post of graduate manager of athletics existed from 1904-40. The list, by terms: 1904-05, J.H. Gibboney; 1906,
A. Williams; 1907, H.H. Varner; 1908-11, C.P. Miles; 1912, A. Lockhart; 1913-17, C.P. Miles; 1918-19, C.A. Bernier;
1920-34, C.P. Miles; 1935-40, W.L. Younger.
A few students chose sides and played their first game of rugby football in a field behind Number One Barracks
(Lane Hall) in the fall of 1891. They liked the game so much that they decided to field a team the following year.
A call was issued for players in September 1892, and two teams were organized. Professor W.E. Anderson was elected
first captain. Dean Ellison A. Smyth Jr. was elected first coach and manager. Smyth had a difficult time keeping
enough players out for the squad, since most of those assigned to the second team felt that they had been insulted
and refused to return to practice on the following day. Possibly because of this feeling, each team had a chance
to play in just one of the two games scheduled the first year. Both games were played against St. Albans Lutheran
Boys School of Radford. VAMC won the first game, played at Blacksburg on Oct. 21, 1892, by a 14-10 score. St.
Albans won the second game - which was never completed - at Radford 10-0 on Oct. 29.
Practice sessions and games
for the first two years were played in a wheat field laid off with a plow and "about as level as a side of Brush
Mountain." Team members arose at six and took a cross-country run before breakfast to keep in shape. In 1894,
President McBryde assigned part of the horticultural farm (near the present Memorial Chapel) to the athletic
and military departments; since that time, athletic facilites have been improved constantly.
The first game
with VMI was played in Staunton in 1894 with VMI winning 10-6. The first game with the University of Virginia
was played in Charlottesville in 1896 with Virginia winning 42-0.
The 1905 football team produced a 9-1-0 record, the most wins for a Tech team for many years to come. The team
was coached by C.P. Miles and lost only to Navy 34-0. It also got the first ever Tech win over Virginia, 5-0,
which made the Cavaliers so angry that they would not play Tech again until 1923. Playing on the 1905 team,
which was recognized as "Champions of the South," was Hunter Carpenter, Tech's first player ever to be elected
to the National Football Hall of Fame. In those days before strict eligibility rules, Carpenter played fullback
on Tech's 1899 and 1900 teams and halfback on the 1901, 1902, 1903, and 1905 teams. He was captain in 1902.
Homecoming and Governor's Day - The first Homecoming football game was played Oct. 23, 1926, against
the University of Virginia at the dedication of Miles Stadium. The first Governor's Day game was played
Oct. 23, 1965, against Virginia at the dedication of Lane Stadium.
Bowl Games - Tech's 1946 team became the first football team from Virginia to play in a post-season
bowl game, losing to the University of Cincinnati 18-6 in the Sun Bowl at El Paso, Tex., New Year's Day 1947.
Tech has also played in two Liberty Bowl games in Memphis, Tenn., losing to Miami (Fla.) in 1966 by 14-7 and
to Mississippi in 1968 by 34-17.
All-Americans - Three Tech football players have been named to first team national All-American
teams: Carroll Dale, 1959, NEA and Look magazine; Bob Schweickert, 1964, Look magazine; and Frank Loria,
1966, Associated Press and Look magazine.
Victories by Teams - The number of victories by teams from 1892-1971 are listed below:
No. of Wins
1893, 1948, 1950
1898, 1900, 1902, 1931, 1938, 1946
1894, 1895, 1899, 1915, 1920, 1924, 1933, 1935, 1939, 1947, 1957,
1961, 1969, 1971
1896, 1897, 1903, 1904, 1906, 1908, 1912, 1919, 1925, 1926, 1927,
1929, 1930, 1934, 1936, 1937, 1940, 1952, 1953, 1958, 1962, 1970
1901, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1914, 1917, 1923, 1941, 1955, 1959, 1960,
1907, 1913, 1916, 1918, 1921, 1928, 1942, 1956, 1965, 1967, 1968
1922, 1932, 1954, 1963, 1966
Football Coaches and Records - A list of football coaches and their records, by years:
1892-1893: E.A. Smyth 1892 (1-1-0); 1893 (0-2-0); Overall (1-3-0)
1894: J.A. Massie (4-1-0)
1895-1896: A.C. Jones 1895 (4-2-0); 1896 (5-2-1); 0verall (9-4-1)
1897: C. Frith (5-2-0)
1898: J.L. Ingles (3-2-0)
1899: James Morrison (4-1-0)
1900: Dr. Davis (3-3-1)
1901: A.B. Morrison (6-1-0)
1902: R.R. Brown (3-2-1)
1903: C.A. Lueder (5-1-0)
1904: J.C. O'Connor (5-3-0)
1905-1906: C.P. Miles 1905 (9-1-0); 1906 (5-2-2); Overall (14-3-2)
1907: C.R. Williams (7-2-0)
1908: R.M. Brown (5-4-0)
1909-1910: B.B. Bocock 1909 (6-1-0); 1910 (6-2-0)
1911: L.W. Reiss (6-1-2).
1912-1915: B.B. Bocock 1912 (5-4-0); 1913 (7-1-1); 1914 (6-2-1); 1915 (4-4-0) Overall (34-14-2)
1916: J.E. Ingersoll (7-2-0)
1917-1919: C.A. Bernier 1917 (6-2-1); 1918 (7-0-0); 1919 (5-4-0); Overall (18-6-1)
1920: S.B. Sutton (4-6-0)
1921-1925: B.C. Cubbage 1921 (7-3-0); 1922 (8-1-1); 1923 (6-3-0); 1924 (4-2-3); 1925 (5-3-2); Overall (22-13-1)
1926-1929: A.F. Gustafson 1926 (5-3-1); 1927 (5-4-0); 1928 (7-2-0); 1929 (5-4-0); Overall (22-13-1)
1930-1931: O.E. Neale 1930 (5-3-1); 1931 (3-4-2) Overall (8-7-3)
1932-1940: H.B. Redd 1932 (8-1-0); 1933 (4-3-3); 1934 (5-5-0); 1935(4-3-2); 1936 (5-5-0); 1937 (5-5-0); 1938 (3-5-2); 1939 (4-5-1); 1940 (5-5-0); Overall (43-37-8)
1941: J.R. Kitts (6-4-0)
1942: H.M. McEver (7-2-1)
1943-1944: Discontinued because of war
1945: H.M. McEver (2-6-0); Overall (9-8-1)
1946-1947: J.R. Kitts 1946 (3-3-0); 1947 (4-5-0); Overall (13-12-3)
1948-1950: R.C. McNeish 1948 (0-8-1); 1949 (1-7-2); 1950 (0-10-0); Overall (1-25-3)
1951-1960: F.O. Moseley 1951 (2-8-0); 1952 (5-6-0); 1953 (5-5-0); 1954 (8-0-1); 1955 (6-3-1); 1956 (7-2-1); 1957 (4-6-0); 1958 (5-4-1); 1959 (6-4-0); 1960 (6-4-0); Overall (54-42-4)
1961-1970: J.D. Claiborne 1961 (4-5-0); 1962 (5-5-0); 1963 (8-2-0); 1964 (6-4-0); 1965 (7-3-0); 1966 (8-1-1); 1967 (7-3-0); 1968 (7-3-0); 1969 (4-5-1); 1970 (5-6-0); Overall (61-37-2)
1971- C.E. Coffey 1971 (4-7-0)
Basketball became immediately successful after being introduced at Tech. The first intercollegiate game, played
in the Stone Auditorium (later Chapel and Library) on Jan. 22, 1909, was a loss to Emory and Henry 33-26, but
the team finished the season with a 4-3 record. Tech then had its only undefeated basketball campaign in 1909-10
(11-0). The most number of wins in a season came in 1959-60 with a 20-6 record and again in 1966-67 with a 20-7
record. In national tournaments, Tech has gone as far as an 88-73 loss to Temple in the opening round of the
National Invitational Tournament in 1966 and up to the NCAA Mideast Regional finals in 1967, where the Gobblers
lost 71-66 in overtime to Dayton.
Basketball Coaches and Records - A list of basketball coaches and their records, by the year the
1909: R.M. Brown (4-3)
1910-1911: B.B. Bocock 1910 (11-0); 1911 (11-1)
1912: L.N. Keesling (6-3)
1913: H.B. Hughes (5-9)
1914-1916: B.B. Bocock 1914 (14-5); 1915 (9-4); 1916 (12-3); 0verall (57-13)
1917: H.P. Sanborn (17-2)
1918-1920: C.A. Bernier 1918 (15-5); 1919 (18-4); 1920 (14-4); Overall (47-13)
1921-1923: W.L. Younger 1921 (19-5); 1922 (14-6); 1923 (13-6)
1924: B.C. Cubbage (5-13)
1925-1926: M.B. Blair 1925 (6-9); 1926 (3-10); Overall (9-19)
1927: H.B. Redd (6-8)
1928: Bud Moore (5-10)
1929: I.E. Randall (4-13)
1930: R.S. Warren (5-14)
1931: C.D. Rhodes (5-10)
1932: G.S. Proctor (8-9)
1933-1936: W.L. Younger 1933 (5-10); 1934 (1-15); 1935 (3-16); 1936 (5-16); Overall (60-74)
1937-1944: H.M. McEver 1937 (6-11); 1938 (6-8); 1939 (3-14); 1940 (4-16); 1941 (7-14); 1942 (10-10); 1943 (7-7); 1944 (11-4); Overall (54-84)
1945-1947: G.S. Proctor 1945 (6-8); 1946 (11-8); 1947 (13-13); Overall (38-38)
1948-1955: G.F. Laird 1948 (14-8); 1949 (10-13); 1950 (15-9); 1951 (19-10); 1952 (4-16); 1953 (4-19); 1954 (3-24); 1955 (7-20); Overall (76-119)
1956-1962: C.W. Noe 1956 (14-11); 1957 (14-8); 1958 (11-8); 1959 (16-5); 1960 (20-6); 1961 (15-7); 1962 (19-6); Overall (109-51)
1963-1964: W.B. Matthews 1963 (12-12); 1964 (16-7); Overall (28-19)
1965-1971: H.P. Shannon 1965 (13-I0); 1966 (19-5); 1967 (20-7); 1968 (14-11); 1969 (14-12); 1970 (10-12); 1971 (14-11); Overall (104-68)
1972-: D.E. DeVoe 1972 (16-10)
The first known baseball game against an off-campus opponent was in 1877 when VAMC beat Roanoke College by a
record score of 53-13. Baseball did not become organized on a regular basis until 1892.
Golf was introduced as a varsity sport in 1947. A wrestling club was formed in January 1910; wrestling was made a
varsity sport in May 1922. A boxing squad was organized in 1921-22. The first matches were held in the winter of
1925. Boxing was made a minor sport in 1926, a major sport in 1930, and discontinued after 1944. A tennis
association was organized in 1892. Cross country was made a minor sport in 1921. Fencing was recognized as a
minor sport in 1939. A swimming team was organized in 1934. A track team was organized in 1906. A rugby club
was organized in 1968. An intercollegiate gymnastics schedule was begun in winter 1966. Soccer was approved
as a varsity sport in 1972.
Mass athletics were introduced at Tech in February 1921, but it was 1924 before an intramural athletic division
was organized. The first intramural keys were given in 1928; before then, gold footballs, basketballs, and such
were awarded as prizes. The first official intramural program for women students was begun February 1967 with 12
basketball teams in two leagues.
Colors - The original team colors, black and cadet gray, were adopted in 1892. They were replaced by
Chicago maroon and burnt orange, which were first worn in a game with Roanoke College in October 1896. The old
colors were discarded because they looked like a prison uniform when worn in stripes. The new colors were chosen
by a committee, headed by Professor E.E. Sheib, after the committee found that no other college in the country
used that particular combination.
Conferences - Tech was a charter member of the now defunct Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic
Association, formed in February 1895, along with Randolph-Macon, Richmond College (now the University of
Richmond), Roanoke College, and William and Mary. Tech was also a charter member of the Southern Intercollegiate
Conference (now called Southern Conference), becoming a member in May 1921. The university withdrew from the
conference to become an independent on April 19, 1965.
Fight Song and Yell - The university's foremost fight song, "Tech Triumph," was composed in 1919 by
W.P. Maddox '20 and Mattie Eppes (Boggs). It is the only song to have been adopted officially by the student body.
The foremost yell, the "Old Hokie," was composed in 1896 by 0.M. Stull '96 for a student body contest.
Monograms and Numerals - A Monogram Club was organized in 1913, and a system of awarding monograms
to eligible varsity athletes was adopted in 1914-15. Caps with "VPI" monograms were worn by any member of the corps
until February 1907, when classes pledged to quit wearing them. At that time, athletes were permitted to wear a
"VP" on their caps, which was changed to the current "VT" in 1958. Class numerals, instead of monograms, were
authorized for freshmen athletes in October 1926.
Nicknames and Mascots - The "Gobbler" and "Hokie" nicknames and turkey mascot are discussed fully
later in this chapter under Student Body Miscellany. The first costumed "Gobbler" (now called the Hokie Bird)
mascot was introduced in the fall of 1962.
Season Tickets - The first season tickets, admitting holders to all home games (and some in Roanoke),
were issued in 1908.
Student Aid and Hokie Club - The first full athletic scholarships were offered in 1925. A Student
Aid Fund to raise money for athletic scholarships was established in January 1946. The Student Aid Association
was chartered in 1950 with the sole purpose of providing athletic scholarships. The Hokie Club was chartered in
1962 as part of the Student Aid Association.
Choral Organizations - The first student choral organization was a male singing group known as the
Glee Club, organized in February 1895. Name changes for all-male singing groups down through the years: Glee Club,
1895-97; VPI Mandolin and Glee Club, 1897-1910; Tech Minstrels, 1919-31; Apollo Club, 1936-37; VPI Glee Club,
1938-64; VPI Men's Glee Club, 1964-65; Varsity Glee Club, 1965-69; Varsity Glee Club and Stage Band, 1969-71;
Virginia Tech Showmen, 1971-present.
The first mixed voice group was organized in 1966 and was known as the University Choir. It changed its name
to University Singers in 1972, and another University Choir was established to sing more serious choral works.
A smaller mixed voice group, the Techsingers, was also organized in 1972 to sing popular songs.
The first all-women choral group was established in 1972 and was known as the Techmates.
Drama Organizations - There have been many drama groups, both official and unofficial, since the
earliest days. As early as 1876, the Gray Jacket reported on a student drama group: "The Old Virginia Negro
Minstrel Troupe gave entertainments on the nights of the 28th and 29th of April. They had a large and
appreciative audience both of nights. Messrs. Floyd, Ker, Nelson, Price, Handy, Shepherd, Jeffress, Costin,
Caskie, and Ainslie exhibited considerable the theatrical talent. We hope they will amuse us again."
The first official drama organization was the Thespian CIub, 1892-1901. It received some competition from
another group, Puffs and Queues, for two years, 1896-98. Other student drama organizations have included:
Dramatic Club, 1926-33; Tech Players, 1935-38; Alpha Psi Omega, 1937-38 and 1941-72; Maroon Mask, 1938-present;
University Theatre, 1964-67; Theatre Arts-University Theatre, 1967-present.
Publications - A Student Publications Board was established in 1932 to control student publications
and their finances. A Students' Finance Board assumed financial responsibility from 1935 to 1948, when the
Publications Board resumed financial responsibility. The Publications Board, composed of both students and faculty,
elect the business and editorial heads of all student publications.
An alphabetical listing of student publications existing in 1972 follows:
Bugle, The - Yearbook. First edition, 1895. Not issued 1944-46 because of World War II.
First editor: C.J. Richardson. Named by Claudius Lee in a student body contest.
Collegiate Times (The Virginia Tech) - Known as The Virginia Tech from the first issue on Oct. 21,
1903, until name change on Jan.14, 1970. Issued weekly until changed to twice-a-week in fall 1966. Founded as an
official organ of the Athletic Association. No students were on the editorial board until 1905. Ira I. Holt Jr.
was first student editor in 1906. Student body assumed control from Athletic Association in April 1931. Not
published for four months in 1943-44 session because of World War II.
WUVT Radio Station - Carrier current radio station, operating on 640 kilocycles, went on air
April 1, 1948. Fire destroyed studio in August 1951. Returned to air temporarily Nov. 17, 1952. Off air
most of 1953-54. Returned to air in 1954-55 session. Radiating frequency modulation station, operating
on 90.7 megahertz, went on air with 10 watts power in the fall of 1969. Carrier current signal extended
to Radford College in May 1970.
An alphabetical listing of defunct student publications follows:
Agricultural Journal - Issued irregularly December 1906-June 1908.
Cohee, The - Irregularly issued weekly newspaper, primarily interested in sports. Seventeen issues,
Dec. 8, 1897-June 22, 1899.
Firing Line, The - Irregularly issued monthly newspaper. Seven issues, November 1913-May 1914.
Gray Jacket, The - Monthly, originally in newspaper format, later in journal format. First student
publication; established by Lee and Maury Literary Societies. First series, 1875-83; second series, October
1883-June 1889; Not published September 1889-April 1892; third series, May 1892-December/January 1905-06.
Guidon, The - Originally called YMCA Handbook in 1894. Named Guidon in 1934. Administration assumed
publishing from students in 1952. Published infrequently after 1964. Contained orientation information for
Maelstrom, The - Irregularly issued literary magazine, spring 1966-1969.
Sentinel, The - Bound calendar, issued from 1940-55, containing complete schedule of college activities.
Established by Pi Delta Epsilon, publications recognition fraternity.
Skirmisher, The - Irregularly issued newspaper, October 1910-March 1912.
Tech-Nique, The - Agricultural magazine, issued four times a year from 1956-63. Established by
Alpha Zeta, agricultural recognition fraternity.
Tin Horn, The - Coed yearbook; published 1925 and 1929-31.
Virginia Aggie Engineer - Published annually by student branch of the American Society of
Agricultural Engineers, 1936-37. Succeeded by the Virginia Tech Agrizette.
Virginia Tech, The - Renamed Collegiate Times Jan. 14, 1970 (see Collegiate Times above).
Virginia Tech Agrizette, The - Quarterly published by agriculture students. Two issues: April 1938 and
Virginia Tech Engineer, The - Quarterly magazine (sometimes five issues a year) published for
engineering students, November 1923-Spring 1963.
VPI Skipper, The - Irregularly issued humor magazine, December 1927-May 1934.
SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS - Student social organizations have played a great part in student life at the
university, even though there have been far more social organizations operating off campus down through the years
than there have been on campus.
The first social organization of any kind established by students at Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical
College was the Epsilon chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha, national social fraternity, on Nov. 11, 1873. It was soon
followed by the Epsilon chapter of Sigma Alpha (name changed to Black Badge Society in 1877) in 1873; the
Nu chapter of Kappa Sigma and the Zeta chapter of Kappa Sigma Kappa in 1874; and the Alpha Phi chapter of
Beta Theta Pi in 1877. A charter for the Southern Xi prime chapter of Kappa Alpha was issued to two students
in 1877, but the chapter never initiated any other members and quickly folded.
Since neither official college publications nor student publications of the era ever reported any existence
of the social fraternities, it can be assumed that there was never any official approval of the organizations
by college authorities. But they did exist in town, albeit for a very short time, and it can also be assumed
that the college's refusal to supervise them led to acts of mischievousness, rowdiness, and destruction of
property not unknown in the similar circumstances of recent years.
The board of visitors of the college evidently put much of the blame for an increasing lack of discipline in
the student body squarely on the membership of the national social fraternities in the late 1870s. A Committee on
Reorganization studied the situation in 1879 and among many other rules and regulations it adopted was the
following, "No student, during his connection with the college, shall belong to any secret college society,
nor an association, except such as shall have been approved by the faculty; nor shall any assembly of students
be held for any purpose whatever without the express permission of the President." The rule became effective
on Jan. 1, 1880, and, coupled with a decline in student body enrollment to 50, most of the chapters folded.
Kappa Sigma Kappa continued to initiate students for several years, but in 1886 all students were required
to sign a pledge "on honor, that I will not join, or form any connection with, either directly or indirectly,
any secret club or society, fraternity or other organization, composed in whole or in part of students of the
college, or attend the meeting of any secret organization, or wear the badge or colors of any secret society."
The pledge had disappeared from the college catalog by 1890, and in the ensuing years several local social
fraternities were organized. By 1916 the fraternity movement had grown to a point where some students asked
the college administration to approve the organizations. At first the administration gave indications that
it would approve the fraternities, but a group of cadet officers, led by the president of the corps, were
against approval and conducted an anti-fraternity campaign. One of their main arguments was that secret
societies fostered "internal friction" on the athletic teams and would be "against the best interest of the
school from an athletic standpoint." The cadets succeeded in convincing the officers of the Alumni Association,
and they announced in July 1916 that the association "as a whole" was not in favor of recognition for the
societies. At the meeting of the board of visitors on Sept. 14, fraternities were once again denied official
The next time the fraternity question arose was following the great increase of civilian students on
campus following World War II. Seventeen students petitioned the administration in 1951, requesting approval
of dormitory clubs that would "promote good fellowship and good citizenship and give expression to the social
and civic interests of the members." The petition was granted for the on-campus clubs, but the social facilities
in the dormitories were woefully inadequate, and the clubs soon afterwards began to move their operations into
town. One town group called Delta Kappa Sigma petitioned the administration for recognition in 1953. President
Newman took the request to the board of visitors with the suggestion that the board's policy on social
fraternities be re-examined and either revised or reaffirmed. The board reaffirmed the existing policy
once again. Delta Kappa Sigma immediately took down its Greek letters, renamed its house the Blacksburg
Sports Club, and continued business as usual. Later, they reinstalled the Greek letters, however.
As student body enrollment mushroomed in the 1960s, so did the local fraternities. And with the growth in
numbers came renewed effort to attain recognition. In 1964, President Hahn said that the university "could not
recognize social fraternities," but a change in social climate led to reconsideration of the question. A
student preference referendum in 1967 indicated an increased desire for recognition of social fraternities,
and two years later the University Council proposed an on-campus system.
When the University Council proposal for a recognized on-campus fraternity system came to a vote by the
student body in the fall of 1969, the proposal was defeated primarily because of the on-campus requirement.
Meanwhile, Sigma Phi Epsilon, one of the 10 largest national fraternities, decided to go against National
Interfraternity Council policy and charter a group of Tech students, regardless of whether they would be
recognized by the university. Other national groups quickly followed suit.
The University Council continued to study the recognition problem, and early in the summer of 1971 decided
to approve the principle of recognition and supervision of off-campus fraternities and sororities and asked the
Student Personnel Division to recommend by May 1, 1972, "procedures for implementing fraternity and sorority
recognition." At the meeting of the board of visitors on Aug. 16, 1971, the board also decided to approve
recognition in principle "subject to the development of appropriate procedures approved by it." On May 24,
1972, the board gave its approval to fraternity and sorority recognition.
Dancing has always played a special role in the social life of students at the university, from impromptu
sessions at the push of a juke box button to the elaborately planned and decorated Ring Dances.
Most of the early dances were held at the Yellow Sulphur Springs Hotel nearby because the college had no
facilities for dances. The September 1875 issue of the Gray Jacket reported that the student "Masque Ball" at
Yellow Sulphur was "a complete success." The dance started at 8:30 p.m. and continued until midnight. Twenty
students and their dates were dressed in costumes resembling nuns, clowns, paupers, and other figures. The
report also said that some "looked more like hyenas and the devil than anything else." A more romantic
report on a dance the following spring said: "We continued to trip the light fantastic toe until late evening.
Many were the aching hearts that the Blacksburg cadets carried off beneath their 'gray jackets'."
By 1893, the facilities at the college had improved somewhat, and a group of students organized the German Club,
which was open to any student who had the "anxiety to dance" and who could "acquit himself creditably on the
ballroom floor." The first German (so named after a type of formal dancing) was held in Library Hall on the
second floor of the Second Academic Building on Nov. 30, 1893. There were 15 couples and 15 stags present.
Starting time for the dances was usually 9:30 p.m. with a break at midnight for supper. After supper, the dance
would continue until about 3 a.m. A dance usually began with a figure, led by one of the club members. The
two-step and waltz were the most popular dances; any new dance had to be demonstrated for, and approved by,
faculty wives before it would be allowed.
In 1908, several students from Richmond formed an Omicron Club to present dances in Richmond, later
adding Cotillion to its name (after another type of dancing) and becoming the Omicron Cotillion Club. In the
session of 1912-13 the club split into two parts, Omicron Gamma Gamma and the Cotillion Club (whose purpose
was to present dances on campus in competition with the German Club). The Cotillion Club presented its first
dance in the Pavilion on campus on March 28, 1913. A year later the Cotillion "allowed some of the new dances,
the one step, grapevine, and the hesitation waltz being the most prominent."
In earlier days, the dance clubs presented opening dances, Thanksgiving dances, mid-Winter dances, an
Easter dance, and a finals dance for seniors. In later years, the schedule was changed to dances on Fridays
and Saturdays one weekend each quarter. As dances became more expensive to present in the 1960s, the clubs
began sponsoring concerts by popular artists, with the profits being used to present the dances. The Student
Union assumed sole right to present concerts in 1968 and, in return, promised to make up losses suffered by the
clubs through the spring of 1970. About the same time, the student body lost much of its interest in formal
dancing, and attendance began a steady decline. In May 1970 the Cotillion Club decided that its social future
lay in a different area and disbanded to reactivate the Epsilon chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha national social
fraternity. The German Club presented formal dances each quarter during the 1970-71 session but dropped to a
single set of formal dances (only in fall quarter) during the 1971-72 session.
Other Social Clubs
Another strictly social organization on campus was organized by upperclassmen in 1895 and was called the
Bachelor Club. Its stated purpose was to promote of fellowship. The Bachelors had an erratic existence,
folding at the end of the 1895-96 session, operating again in 1898-99, folding again for one year, operating
again from 1900-10, folding again, and operating once again from 1925 until World War II, when it disbanded
for the last time. Another social organization, the Scorpions Club, was organized by cadets in 1932 "to
build corps spirit." It folded in 1935.