A HISTORY OF THE OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY CHAPTER OF KAPPA SIGMA
FUN FACT: Our chapter's first house mother, Ella Aspacia Ryan (6/29/1860 - (1/3/1940), was the first house mother in the world.
THE FOUNDING OF GAMMA ZETA
This chapter was formed as a local fraternity in 1915 under the name Gamma Zeta. It was the fourth social organization at Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College. In April 1916, the local fraternity of Gamma Zeta at the Oklahoma A&M made a formal application for a charter of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. At the time of Gamma Zeta's petition, A&M had only 700 male students and 350 females enrolled. The faculty had only 120 members and a student could choose one of seven courses.
Gamma Zeta was highly respected by the administration of A&M as evidenced by this opinion of the college president during the petition:
"The local fraternity known as Gamma Zeta at Oklahoma A&M College has maintained a regular organization and fraternity house since I have been president of this institution, and its relationship to the college has been most satisfactory. In general, the members represent the best class of students that come to this college."
-J. W. Cantwell (President of Oklahoma A&M)
1920-1949: TRANSITION FROM GAMMA ZETA TO GAMMA PSI
On May 13th, 1920 Gamma Zeta became the Gamma Psi chapter of Kappa Sigma. The first five initiates, called the Five Friends and Brothers, of this chapter are: Jess W. Hoke, Roy T. Hoke Jr., Harley O. Thomas, Herb Graham Sr., and Sherman Crishner. Today the Gamma Zeta Corporation holds legal title to the chapter property and serves as our housing corporation.
The 40's found the War being the most dominant factor both for the country and Gamma Psi. The loss of young men to military service all but closed the fraternity system in 1945. The return of the service men boomed the Greek system by 1947.
1950-1969: 1401 W. UNIVERSITY AVE.
The major event of the 50's was the building of our current chapter house at 1401 West University. The year 1960 brought the Gamma Psi membership over 800. To help grades, the chapter activities required pledges to participate in 12 hours of supervised study hall per week. By 1963 the chapter had maintained 13 years above the all-men's average GPA. Most brothers were wearing flat topes and the girls on campus wore white socks. Fraternity life prospered.
1970-1989: THE VIETNAM WAR AND A CHANGING FRATERNITY STANDARD
By the end of the 60's, the country was involved in the Vietnam war, which lacked popular support. This seemed to lead to a social unrest among the youth of the campuses across the country. Although Oklahoma State was not as hard hit as California and San Francisco State, we did experience a time of protest against all ideals and traditions that are the backbone of college, fraternity and even society. There were not a lot of men interested in being in a fraternity like their elders. Kappa Sigma slipped to a record low of 8 new initiates by 1971.
In the early 70's the war ended and the wind seemed to go out of the sails of the socially unhappy young. It was no longer looked on as bad to be a fraternity man by the peer groups of new freshmen. Kappa Sigma again began to flourish at OSU. After a couple of financially troubled years, the Gamma Psi brothers became campus leaders again. The chapter house again housed more than 75 men and the old ideas of wearing suits and singing serenades became fun again.
1990-PRESENT: A NEW KAPPA SIGMA
This is a letter from the Worthy Grand Master in 2012 in the Kappa Sigma Caduceus:
"I would also like to recognize the Gamma-Psi chapter at Oklahoma, who just reported a record 82 pledges. Just over a year ago, Gamma-Psi was mired in negative behavior and hazing. The men of the chapter stood up as leaders and said, “no more”—and they ended hazing in their chapter once and for all. Since then, the chapter has transformed, winning intramural, seeing GPAs skyrocket, and being rewarded with their 1st ever FACE award at Leadership Conference. Gamma-Psi is a textbook example of the benefits of eliminating hazing and embracing the Kappa Sigma way."
With the pledge class of 2010, came many changes to Gamma Psi chapter. Sam Snelling was awarded Undergraduate Brother of the Year in 2012 for the creating a revolutionary New Member Program that is still used today. The main focus of this new program was to emphasize the four pillars of Kappa Sigma; Fellowship, Leadership, Scholarship, and Service. Along with a new program in 2012 was a record breaking pledge class of 88 new members in the fall of 2012.
In the more recent years we’ve seen major successes in Oklahoma State Greek events such as Homecoming, Freshman Follies, and Spring Sing. In 2016, the chapter is virtually unrecognizable to what it was a mere 5 years ago.
We’re always finding out new things from alumni of the Gamma Psi chapter of Kappa Sigma. The history is rich and almost as old as the university itself. If you have anything to contribute, please email stories, photos, articles, etc. to firstname.lastname@example.org