The 70's - Meeting the Challenges
On November 1, 1971, the mortgage on the new house was taken over by the Tau Phi Delta Fraternity. Thus began the era of challenge, to generate alumni support, raise the money, run a successful rush program, and fill a larger house (46 capacity). The Alumni Chairman must now become more innovative in his communications and fund raising techniques. The Membership Chairman and Social Chairman had to improve the house's image in order to make it more competitive with other fraternities. The Pledge Master had to train the potential Brothers on the traditions and needs of the household. And, the Executive Officers had to hold the Brotherhood together. Bad news from the west coast, with the announcement of the folding of the Washington Alpha Chapter. It took years to resolve the financial matters of this chapter. Throughout the '70s, the fraternity had a new challenge to fill a much larger house with quality Brothers. It was fortunate that the interest in resource management was increasing during this critical time of additional financial responsibility. It was at this point that we broadened our membership base, and we unofficially became a professional fraternity concentrating on the use and conservation of natural resources. Many of these men were involved in majors such as Forestry, Forest Products, and Environmental Resource Management, while others were involved in Wildlife Sciences and Agriculture related studies. Many of these disciplines were related, creating an atmosphere of unity with regard to people, ambitions, and scholarship. Unity made our organization better, and we took pride in the unity within our strong Brotherhood. In addition, anyone with interest in the outdoors or activities were encouraged to become a member as this was always a large part of the activities that make our house unique. As found in a 1970 era Tau Phi Delta rushee brochure, "Brotherhood, and the advantages that are a part of it, is another major goal of our organization. By living together as a close group of people, not only do we learn to get along with others, but the welfare of each is increased by the willingness of the others to help. Friendships made in this situation often last forever and the memories that result will be enjoyed over and over in the years to come. Once a Brother...always a Brother, and any Brother is always welcomed back to visit as all members are part of Tau Phi Delta for their lifetime." Throughout the decade the Rush Chairman continued to bring in large fall pledge classes, such as in 1972 - twelve, 1975 - sixteen, and 1977 - fourteen, filling the house and continuing the magic of Tau Phi Delta. World events ran rampant during the '70s. The war in South Asia winds down, but not before anti-war campus protests come to Penn State, and President Nixon invades Cambodia and strategically bombs and mines North Vietnam. The Golden Anniversary of Tau Phi Delta went by virtually unnoticed as the Brotherhood kept busy adjusting to their new home and a changing society.
Fall 1972 Pledge Class during pledge prank
Watergate scandal brings down a noble President of the United States of America in 1974. The headlines read, "Hammering Hank Aaron Breaks Home Run Record," "Gasoline Shortages Drain America," and "Nixon Resigns." Popular music shifts from Led Zeppelin to Boz Skaggs through the disco era and on to hard rock and roll. Streaking (naked) and other assorted pranks returned to campus life.
Penn State Alpha - 427 East Fairmount
The house improvements continued throughout the '70s, for much repair was needed even years after Zeta Beta Tau' shoddy departure. Using the Brotherhood's ingenuity, time, and talent, we made many major renovations to this modern brick building. A classic example of such a project started on Easter weekend, 1975, when approximately 25 Brothers went to Brother Claire Fetzer's property near Rebersburg, PA. Their purpose was to cut red oaks for the paneling in the television and dining rooms. The plan was devised by Brother Fetzer and the graduating seniors. On Friday they cut 36 logs. On Saturday they skidded the logs out to Route 45. Brother Fetzer's father and brother supplied the tractor and trucks that were used to bring the logs back to the Penn State Forest Resources Lab. Brother Wayne Murphy (Professor) and Les Richel, (lab instructor) provided extensive help with the project. The logs were sawn into 5/8" boards. Half were kiln dried by the end of the term. The rest were dried during the beginning of summer. On a July work weekend, approximately 16 Brothers and many alumni, pledges, and Little Sisters came back to work on the paneling. They loaded the boards into pickup trucks and station wagons and took them back to Brother Fetzer's home. Friday night they planed and ship-lapped the boards. Saturday morning they finished the boards and brought them back to Tau Phi Delta. During the next two months they put the paneling up in the dining room with the help of Brother Roger Mentzer's tools and technical supervision. During the fall of 1975, several pledges, with the help of Brother Dave Cowan, cut and finished rough red oak boards into chair rails and put them up. For a year the paneling went unfinished. Finally, the Fall 1976 pledge class, as part of their pledge project, finished the paneling, making and putting up all of the solid oak molding. Total paneling used was 880 square feet, 620 square feet less than the original estimate. The total cost was $100, but valued in today's market (including labor) it would be about $5,000 to $7,000.
Brother H. Vitolins
Brother Harry Vitolins, a first generation American whose parents escaped from the Soviet dominated country of Latvia, served as Phi in 1975-1976. His observations of the '70s should not be taken lightly. "In the early years people had to get use to the new occupant of 427 East Fairmount. Academic achievement and filling the house was never a problem. Improving our social status, like getting more women to visit the house and getting over the drab outside appearance of a brick shoe box fraternity house were greater challenges. But more important was what was inside. The close Brotherhood, devoted pledges and friendly Alumni made Tau Phi Delta my greatest experience at Penn State."
Harry, you are not alone! Toward the end of the decade, inflation and recession hit many Penn State fraternities the hardest. Tau Phi Delta was even more vulnerable due to a "downward trend of the numeric membership cycle." Again, in this decade the Brotherhood met the challenge to improve the social atmosphere, financial management, an especially the rush program. By using the active Brotherhood's outdoor interests, be it "vocational or avocational," the House portrayed an appealing image to their fellow students. It’s an old idea in a new package.
Question: How many Tau Phi Delta Brothers does it take to cut firewood?
Answer: Four Brothers:
One Forest Science major to get the firewood permit and start the chainsaw.
One Civil Engineer to plot the route for the truck and check the road grade.
One Environmental Engineer to file and Environmental Impact Statement and assess the damage.
One Recreation and Parks major to take a photo and get three credits for the project.