Local History (by Matthew D. Book)
On April 24th, 1937 Marquette became the Rho Chapter of Triangle Fraternity. This chapter was not created from scratch though. It was the latest evolution of a fraternity that traces its roots back to 1923. In the 1922-23 school year five students started an organization whose goal was to cement the professional and social relationships of engineering students and to promote interest in engineering at Marquette University. There were fourteen charter members, and they adopted the name Knights of the Slide Rule. J.C. Pinney Jr., Dean of the College of Engineering and honorary member, sanctioned the society and gave it the status of a local engineering fraternity. K.S.R. flourished and acquired its first house. Thoughts quickly turned to renaming the fraternity with Greek letters.
On May 4, 1925 K.S.R. changed its name to Gamma Theta Pi. The letters were picked with the consensus of the active members, and a new symbol was fashioned along with the name. Gamma Theta Pi was successful scholastically and athletically. The fraternity made two house changes by 1928 as newer and larger quarters were found. Gamma Theta Pi made an interesting amendment to their constitution. They decided that the size of the fraternity was not to exceed ten percent of the enrollment of the College of Engineering. This no doubt helped preserve their unique identity and guaranteed highly qualified pledges. The name K.S.R. has not disappeared into chapter history though. It is now the name of the alumni executive board that assists the active chapter. K.S.R. has been instrumental in preserving Triangle at Marquette. Gamma Theta Pi made one of the most important acquisitions in this chapter’s history when it purchased a new house at 2929 W. Highland Blvd. on July 2, 1931. This would be the chapter house for 61 years. The mortgage was paid off by 1945 and was promptly burned by then Active Organization President Keith Chen. In 1930 Gamma Theta Pi petitioned Triangle National Engineering Fraternity for chapter membership. The petition was refused for financial reasons. In the spring of 1936 Gamma Theta Pi made a second petition to Triangle, and this time the petition was granted. They were installed as the Marquette Chapter of Triangle Fraternity on April 24, 1937. Triangle paid the mortgage on their house in full in 1945. Two renovations were made on the house in 1952 and 1970. The chapter flourished during this long period of stability. Many things have changed since then. It is worth looking back to see how things were.
In the 1950’s Greek life was quite strong on campus. There were many more fraternities and sororities at that time. Many of the social events such homecoming, dances, and shows were organized by fraternities and sororities. A lot of time was devoted to these projects. Students would work on these events throughout the year. The different chapters competed heavily to be involved in these events and organizations like the school newspaper. Triangle was in the thick of this. Indeed, when young men became actives they were assigned to different organizations, so Triangle would have influence with those organizations. Parties were also a little different. Since there were dorm hours parties generally started earlier and students generally arrived at the beginning of the party. The party would be done by midnight. Instead of listening to music or having a band the brothers would sing songs. The demographics were different also. There were usually 50 to 70 actives in Triangle each semester. Their backgrounds were much more homogeneous than they are today: mostly Catholic, few minorities, similar economic situations. Many actives were commuter students. Students who were from Milwaukee generally did not live on campus, so fraternities were an excellent way for these students to become involved at Marquette.
During the 1970’s the fraternity had become smaller. By the end of the decade there were less than 30 actives. Triangle was not alone. Fraternities and sororities across campus were smaller than what they had been during the 1950’s. They were still involved in many activities such as homecoming and an all-campus party put on annually by Marquette. This party was held outdoors, and the sororities would serve food while the fraternities served beer from beer tents. There were still a fair number of commuters involved in fraternities, but the students came from more diverse backgrounds. Dorm hours were gone and parties were much more like the ones Triangle has today. Membership numbers were still small through the 1980’s and Triangle started to consider plans for moving to a new house. The local neighborhood was in decline. Triangle was now isolated from campus. In 1992 K.S.R. formed a committee to actively investigate options for acquiring a new chapter home. July, 1992, the house was sold to Avatar, a Wisconsin General Partnership. The building had been the chapter home for 61 years. Triangle moved to a duplex at 1902-1904 W. Kilbourn Avenue while a new permanent house was still being investigated. The duplex was converted to a single house, and Triangle resided there for two years.
Through consultations with Marquette University a new location was finally settled on. The University was creating new student housing at the time. It was called the Campus Circle Project. The Triangle alumni would donate directly to Marquette then Marquette would include the new chapter house as phase five of the Campus Circle Project. This was the most effective way to use the donations. The quick response and outstanding generosity of the Marquette Triangle alumni turned this agreement with Marquette University into a reality. Their actions can only attest to the quality of the Brothers that Marquette Chapter has had through its years. The new house would be located next to campus at 15th and Wells Street. A bar and a pawn shop were demolished to make way for the house. The bar had been a historical building, so the arch of its entrance-way was included in the front of the chapter home. Opus corporation, owned by a Marquette Triangle, had built several projects at Marquette, including the union. Now it would be building the new chapter home. Construction started in late Spring of 1994. The chapter lived in a temporary house called the "half-way house" at 16th and Kilbourn until the new house was finished in mid-October. The house, at 806 N. 15th Street, was officially dedicated November 19th, 1994.
The Marquette Chapter of Triangle is one of the premier organizations at Marquette. Its long history serves as a source of pride, guidance and inspiration to the young men who lead today.