Wars against Greek organizations are as long as UT’s history

Kat Sampson

It’s hard to imagine a West Campus on a Saturday night without a C-list rapper performing a one-hit wonder to a crowd of tipsy students. But with stricter policies on West Campus parties looming in the distance, students may never experience artists such as G-Eazy or Yung Joc perform again.

Organizations interested in hosting parties are required to provide Austin Center for Events a detailed property map 21 days prior to their event. The new requirements, which would potentially have effects on festivities such as tailgates and Roundup, have created tension between Greek students and the calmer inhabitants of West Campus. Students across campus have organized petitions and marches to combat the legislation. But issues like this are not new to the 40 Acres.

In the winter of 1912, a group of non-fraternity students organized a number of meetings to discuss the current state of Greek life at UT. Individuals, who identified as non-fraternity informally, started referring to themselves as “barbarians.” The “barbarian caucus,” as The Daily Texan began calling them, attempted to “secure by legislative enactment the abolishment of fraternities in the University of Texas.”

“The war-clouds that have hovered over the horizon of University politics during the fall term now bid fair to bother in even blacker array,” said then-managing editor of the Texan Lynn W. Landrum in a 1913 edition of the paper. 

In one of the larger meetings, over 700 “barbarian” men and women were in attendance in order to hear student protestors speak on the injustices of fraternity life on campus.

“You can’t point to a single man whose morals were improved by fraternities, yet I can show you several fraternity men who have noticeably degenerated in this respect,” student activist H.B. Watis said in the article.  

Another student speaker, A.G. Phillips, expressed concern about how someone’s campus reputation could be tarnished depending on whether they are involved in
Greek life. 

“It is said that Texas is a rich man’s school,” Phillips said. “If a man comes out as a non-fraternity man, it is thought that there is something wrong with him. The impression is fast-gaining that no one can do anything here without associating with a Greek letter organization.” 

It was apparent that almost everyone who attended the “barbarian caucus” had an opinion on the presence of Greek organizations at UT, but none were as strong as speaker George W. Dupree.

“Over the state of Texas today, the fraternity men have created the impression that men are taken into fraternities on a scholarship basis,” Dupree said. “This is not so, and everyone must recognize that this is an evil.”

Regardless of the Austin City Council’s decision on the code amendments, which will be made Sept. 25, Greek organizations will still find a way to bring stars such as the Ying Yang Twins back to campus, and there will always be those who oppose Greek organizations just like the “barbarian caucus” did in 1913.