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History of Kappa Sigma March 28, 1977 - March 13, 1978
(summarized from GA minutes and correspondence file)
by Joel Hahn


Whereas the previous administration was known in the minutes as the "Unrath Regime", this administration was referred to as the "Steck Dynasty."

President:        Chuck Steck
Vice President:   Rich Gierach
Secretary:        Ed Schmeckpeper
Treasurer:        Rich Williams
Warden:           Mike Beck
Alumni Secretary: Dave Freudenberg
Faculty Advisor:  Robert Rose

Robert Rose had to turn down the position; Norm Hannewald was "appointed" as faculty advisor.

As always, the first order of business for the new administration was filling appointed positions.

Music Chairman:               Dave O'Cock
Rush/Social Chairman:         Mike Meyer
House Manager:                Dan Gruchalski
Fraternity Education Officer: Rich Gierach

Just as the new administration took over, ballots were sent out to four men. Three of them pledged in the second pledge class of the semester, bringing the total of pledges for the semester up to five. While five is better than none, it still wasn't the ten minimum the chapter had hoped for back in January.

In late March Robert Brinkley's parents donated a small refrigerator for storage of personal food & beverage by the house brothers. And thus the chapter kept its unintentional tradition of regular acquisition of refrigerators. That Lucille, the house cook, managed to keep going with refrigerators dying, the death of the fryer, the stove's problems and so forth was a testament to her culinary abilities.

Spring cleaning in 1977 brought a new "memorial" to the house: The front door was replaced with one with a plexiglass window and a deadbolt. Engraved in the plexiglass was "Tim Kieschnick Memorial Window, April 1977." What he did that warranted this memorial is not recorded, but Tim graduated from life as a pledge to life as an active member a couple weeks later.

Kappa Sigma took first place in the men's division of the 1977 Songfest competition with "Phi Mu Alpha Barbershop."

In October, Thomas Schmidt (chapter president in 1967) performed a recital on campus, with a reception at the house afterwards.

Fall cleanup resulted in a second memorial: the garage was reroofed, resulting in the "William Reed Nesbit Memorial Corner." Now both members of the first Spring 1977 pledge class had memorials in their names.

October 3 is the first reference in the minutes to the drink entitled the "Phi Mule Alpha." When it was created, who created, and above all, why it was created have been lost in the mists of history. What has survived is the name--albeit shortened to "Phi Mule"--and a recipe (though whether this is the original recipe or an invention from the 1980's is also unknown):

  4 1/2 shots total: 
    1 shot whiskey
    1 shot vodka
    1 shot gin
    1 shot (tonic?)
    1/2 shot of vermouth
    plus a liberal amount of bitters

(In the 1980's & early 1990's, the rules for drinking Phi Mules were as follows: One Phi Mule is downed every fifteen minutes, until the drinker decides he's had enough, at which point he must not vomit for 24 hours afterwards, or forfeit his tally. The man who drinks the most and keeps it down, wins. By 1993, the record stood at 6.)

With all the brothers from other chapters, friends, and friends of friends who stayed at the house for a day or two for the cost of $1.00 per night, the phrase "The Phi Mu Alpha Boarding House" got a lot of usage. It had been coined several years before--around the time the $1.00 fee was voted in--but guests other than girlfriends had been rather rare in previous years. Now, it seemed like every other week someone needed a place to stay for the weekend and a brother offered the use of the house.

The Fall 1977 pledge class initially surpassed all of the classes from the previous year put together. Eight men pledged, and 6 completed the pledging period.

The 1977 regional convention brought some new ideas in recruitment to the chapter: assigning "rush teams" to prospective members and an emphasis on rushing people as friends instead of trying to get enough warm bodies to fill up the chapter. More importantly, the chapter representatives brought back the concept of a "B'n'R" (or "Bitch & Rose") session, wherein a member with a gripe or compliment is allowed to speak for two minutes, uninterrupted, with no questions or rebuttal afterwards, on the condition that it must be brought up before the chapter's executive board beforehand and not be used as a bully pulpit.

At the convention, the chapter also discovered that they had received five of the seven chapter citations for the previous year. This does not seem very surprising, given some of the difficulties the chapter had experienced over the last year, but this brought it home, as the chapter had picked up all seven citations for three years in a row before this.

The tradition of closing the general assembly with song began on October 17, the night the convention reports were given. (Meetings had always been opened with the singing of "Hail, Sinfonia!") These first meetings were both opened and closed with "Hail, Sinfonia!"

The following week was the first "B&R" session. The chapter as an ongoing entity was a major issue, as a majority of the actives would be graduating or leaving by the end of the school year. Without a strong pledge class of more than a handful of members, there would probably not be enough actives left the next fall for the chapter to function. The chapter had taken too many miniscule pledge classes over the last three years, and it was almost too late to rectify matters. Also, because there were almost no juniors in the chapter this year, sophomores were not given the luxury of taking another year to learn the ropes of managing the chapter.

The chapter helped form a pep band to play at VU sports games; the tenative name for the group was "The Valparaiso Collegiate Bombers".

The chapter asked Professor Balko to become an honorary member. His reply didn't come for several months, and then was in the negative.

At the end of the meeting on November 7, Bill "Bonzo" Nesbit made a motion that the chapter pass the gavel around the room that night, giving each member the floor and thus a chance to say whatever was on his mind that night. This was apparently an extension of the "B&R" idea, but also came out of a comment in Robert's Rules of Order. The following week, a motion was made to replace the Announcements and Correspondence sections of the permanent agenda with the passing of the gavel at that and all future meetings. In this way was this tradition started at Kappa Sigma.

While the chapter was having problems finding enough men to keep the chapter afloat, the "Little Sis" program had no such problem. Nineteen new members were initiated in late fall, with a new ceremony put together by Dave Telschow, Bill Nesbit, Ed Schmeckpeper, Chuck Steck, and Mark Stocks.

In December, the chapter sang for the Kappa Kappa Kappa women's organization, at Strongbow's Inn. The group was impressed and donated some money to the chapter.

Three positions opened up by the end of the fall semester: Alumni Secretary, House Manger, and Rush/Social Chairman. They were filled by Donn Wray, Bob "Boo-Boo" Brinkley, and Dave Milne, respectively.

Around this time, Donn Wray moved into the room that was then called "The Pit," but became known for the next 15+ years as "Wray's Hole"; namely the northwest corner room on the second floor. (At that time, the other bedrooms on the second floor were known only as the Front Study, the Middle Study, and the Back Study. They would all gain names of their own in later years.)

At the end of January, the chapter sang in the Sunday chapel service. They also sang for the Community Concert Society at Valparaiso High School in March. (The latter performance consisted of the same pieces they had performed for Kappa Kappa Kappa in December.)

The province songfest was held in the middle of February, in Chicago. Kappa Sigma performed about twenty minutes of music.

Formal was in mid-March, at Drury Lane South. The Little Sisses were invited to attend in their own right.

The chapter's spring concert was held in early April. As in years past, it was a joint concert with SAI.

Bi-annual bylaw revision time came up this year, and the revisions were passed without much fuss, in large part because the committee did such a good job.

In order to help make up for the deficit in previous pledge classes, the chapter ballotted fourteen men. Eight of them pledged--Todd A. Carlson, Mike Dedina, Steve Kamradt, Ted Langewisch (pledge captain), Mike Lochman, Steve Pera, Al Weiss, and David Westfall. Not as large a class as they'd hoped, obviously, but between this and the fall class, there were enough new members that the chapter would be all right come fall. There was some discussion about trying to take a second spring pledge class, but some felt there wasn't enough time in the semester.

In the minutes of the second to last general assembly of the Steck Dynasty, the secretary included a personal commentary on the use and abuse of the passing of the gavel.

"The following comments were not made [during passing of the gavel], but should have been: Passing the gavel is not the time or the place for people to give excuses [for meeting or rehearsal absences].... For each minute that a person babbles on about something meaningless, useless, or otherwise unimportant, that person is wasting over twenty minutes of our time. Everyone has the right to be heard, and should use that right, but do not abuse your right to talk. General Assembly is the business meeting of our fraternity, not a platform for people to demonstrate their vocabulary.... Please excuse the liberties I have taken here. Thank you."

The last meeting of the Steck Dynasty introduced yet another change in the standard general assembly format. Since the induction of the chapter, meetings had been opened with a rendition of "Hail, Sinfonia!" Sometimes boisterous, sometimes humorous, sometimes off-key, sometimes weak or feeble, but always "Hail, Sinfonia!" This time, they sang the Sinfonian Anthem ("All hail, Sinfonian brothers"). "Hail, Sinfonia!" quickly moved back to its proper place at the beginning of the meeting, and the Sinfonian Anthem was eventually moved to the end of the meeting, where it stayed until 1993, when it was replaced with "Parting Song."

The last meeting of an administration always heralds the elections of the next. The new officers were:

President:        Dave Telschow (unopposed)
Vice President:   Bill Nesbit
Treasurer:        George Jarosch (unopposed)
Secretary:        Rich Trubey
Warden:           Mark Stocks
Historian:        John Weber
Alumni Secretary: Donn Wray
Faculty Advisor:  Norman Hannewald

The minutes end with this summary of Chuck Steck's tenure as president:

"Chuck thanked the fraternity members for their support and was in turn congratulated by all for his fine job as president. He filled the office of president in such a manner that he has every right to be proud of his record."

And thus did the Steck Dynasty come to an end.

Respectfully submitted, Joel Hahn