Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) grew out of the Knights of Classic Lore society founded in 1899, by Joseph L. Settles, James C. McNutt, Clarence A. Mayer, Owen I. Truitt and Roy C. Akinson. James C. Love was made the society’s first new member because he was late to the first organizational meeting. The purpose of the Knights of Classic Lore society was, “to aid college men in mental, moral and social development.” By 1909, the Knights of Classic Lore had changed its name to Tau Kappa Epsilon and had become a national organization. Today, Tau Kappa Epsilon is one of the largest social fraternities in the country with over 300 active chapters and colonies, over 9,000 undergraduate members, and 155,000 alumni. Their symbol is the equilateral triangle; the three equal sides represent the strive toward a full development of mind, body and heart. The triangle represents two themes: first a remembrance of the fraternity’s early days and the traditions that were established by the founders, and second, a reminder of the first three TKE chapters that provided the foundation for growth of the organization and whose geographical location formed an equilateral triangle.
Alpha Sigma Chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon was active on the University of North Dakota campus from 1938 to 1994. Part of the Alpha Sigma Chapter was formed by Tau Sigma Rho, a local fraternity founded in May 1923. Tau Sigma Rho decided to go national in April 1938, and became the Alpha Sigma Chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon, the 41st chapter in the nation. The first chartered member was law professor Olaf Thormodsgard. In the fall of 1940, Tau Kappa Epsilon combined with Phi Alpha Epsilon, another local fraternity. Membership at this time was estimated to be 45. In 1960, Tau Kappa Epsilon purchased a home at 2520 University Avenue from Agnes Algers, a resident of Houston, Texas. Membership in 1960 was 80 undergraduate students.
Tau Kappa Epsilon charitable activities included hospital work and supporting the Muscular Dystrophy Association. These included a car wash to raise money for patients with muscular dystrophy, distributing canisters to various businesses to collect money for people with muscular dystrophy, distributing candy to children in hospitals on Halloween, distributing gifts to children in hospitals, and volunteer cleaning in local hospitals.
1994 witnessed the chapter’s demise. On April 16, a party at the Tau Kappa Epsilon house spilled out into the streets and the UND police were called to the scene. As a result of this incident, rumors started that the TKE fraternity would lose its charter and be kicked off campus. By May 1994, low membership consisting of only 13 active members, caused financial difficulties for the chapter. At the same time it was reported that a member from the national office would be in Grand Forks in the fall to help with recruitment of new members. However, by December 1994, the Tau Kappa Epsilon house had been vacated and the ownership of the house transferred to the University of North Dakota Alumni Association.