Phi Kappa Tau: then and now

Members of Phi Kappa Tau, the oldest fratiernity in the county, gather around the Barn, which was originally built in the 1950s. Photo by Nick Marley/Daily Titan Photo Editor

It was the era of the Kennedy presidency, non-violent racial protests, psychedelic rock music and possible U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. At the same time, a little campus in Orange County welcomed its first fraternity.

In 1960, the fraternity obtained a charter from Orange County State College, now Cal State Fullerton, administration and called themselves Sigma Phi Omega. The men quickly became active in campus activities including varsity sports, toga parties and pioneered the first elephant races in ’63, which made the Associated Press’ top-10 stories of 1962 and the OC Register’s “Most Memorable Millennium Moments.”

By 1965, the “Sigs” had been approached by numerous national houses who expressed interest in colonizing at the campus. After intense reviews, the men unanimously voted to join Phi Kappa Tau based on their similar principles, diversities and values.

Towards the end of the decade, the men bought the famous barn from another fraternity, Phi Sigma Kappa, a product of a recent division within the chapter. Events such as the Mud Bowl, Roaring ’20s party and Sweetheart Ball attracted people from all over Southern California.

Since then, Phi Kappa Tau, Gamma Omicron chapter, has continued to recruit and produce leaders campus-wide. Numerous men have taken prestigious positions on campus and joined respectable clubs. Currently, the gentlemen of Phi Kappa Tau (Phi Tau for short) proudly gloat of their involvement in Business Inter-Club Council (BICC) and the Board of Directors. Former President Andrew Lopez is the current Inter-Fraternity Council president. The chapter recently won the Chapter’s Choice Award in 2009.

“The gentlemen of Phi Tau know that there’s more to fraternity life than just partying and drinking,” said Maricela Alvarado, CSUF’s Greek Life Coordinator. “They understand that responsibility, brotherhood and bond are most important.”

The men of Phi Tau strive to live according to their mission to champion a lifelong commitment to brotherhood, learning, ethical leadership and exemplary character. Their mission statement has appealed to many incoming students looking for a strong and well-balanced brotherhood.

“Before I rushed, I thought fraternities were all about cocky guys partying,” freshman and political science major Samir Nasr said. “When I met these guys, they were so down to earth and I knew these were the types of guys I could hang out with. That’s what set them apart.”

Senior Victor Iribe explains what drew him to the gentlemen of Phi Tau when he rushed over three years ago.

“I just clicked with them,” Iribe said of the experience. “What attracted me were their traditions and strong alumni base. And they had good recommendation from the ladies.”

Alvarado believes there is strength in the chapter.

“They are very focused on the purpose of fraternity and are always looking for new ways to improve,” she added.

The members of Phi Tau have maintained excellent relationships with campus personnel and within the community. In 2008, the fraternity raised over $3,500 for CSUF’s philanthropy Camp Titan. In the fall semester, they hosted their annual Monte Carlo Night. Members of the Greek community along with community representatives, alumni and family participated in dinner, non-alcoholic drinks, dessert, gaming, raffles and a silent auction. They raised over $6,000 and donated the proceeds to their national philanthropy The Painted Turtle Camp, a camp for critically-ill children.

With their 50th anniversary quickly approaching, Alvarado sees a solid future ahead for the Phi Tau’s.

“They are great role models within the Greek community,” she said. “I only see them getting stronger and growing as respected leaders. With their great alumni support, they will absolutely continue to grow.”

The men of Phi Kappa Tau look forward to the upcoming years. They are currently in the midst of planning their spring recruitment and are greatly anticipating their many social and philanthropic events planned for the upcoming semester, including mixers, 50th anniversary, formal, bachelor auction and a jog-a-thon.

About Melissa Maldonado