Northern Illinois University officials probably didnt
know there was a fraternity formed 55 years ago on campus called
the Tri-Swine-Omega, whose members were known as Swine.
But about 35 TSO alumni came together during homecoming last
month to celebrate its founding and to reminisce about the good
old days raising Cain and agitating the administration.
The cadre of student journalists all staff members
of the Northern Star, WNIU radio and The Norther yearbook
formed this group as an antithesis to fraternities and sororities.
They had a certain disdain for the Greek contingent on campus,
who were considered the elites among the student body.
This was a part of campus life in the turbulent 1960s,
Presiding at the 55th (and only) Tri-Swine-Omega reunion
were these early members: from left Jim Peters, Ed Murnane, Mayor
Jerry Smith Stan Dziedzic, and Barry Stark, one of the founders.
wrote one of the frats early inductees, Tom Wartowski.
Many of those alums from the 60s and 70s have gone
on to successes in journalism and other careers ranging
from newspaper editors, publishers and broadcast journalists
to lawyers, authors and elected officials. But they all have
retained their love of the craft of journalism, he said.
Another early Swine, Mike Korcek, said the group was spawned
in the radioactive crucible called Kishwaukee Hall,
where the student publications and broadcasting were based, originally
known as Jimmies Tea Room, on the shore of the Kishwaukee
River. Despite efforts by historical preservationists a decade
ago, the building was demolished.
The only artifact remaining from the early TSO days is
a 5-foot-long hand-carved wooden paddle now on display at the
Northern Star offices. Korcek said there was a charter drawn
up by the three founders Barry Stark, Bill Hetland and
Bob Richardson. Even though all three still are around, only
Stark was able to attend the reunion. The charter includes the
fraternitys logo two pig heads and the backside
of a swine, Starks creation.
\In addition to tweaking the Greeks, the group found enjoyment
in pignics and even a touch-football game, with faculty
member Roy Campbell as referee. Campbell was known for hosting
beer parties at his home at Five Points, where it was rumored
underage drinking took place. That would get a fraternity suspended
nowadays, and who knows what punishment the faculty member would
receive. I can attest to the parties, as I attended one there.
But my memory is foggy about any drinking that might have taken
DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith, himself a TSO alum, prepared
a tongue-in-cheek proclamation for the 55th reunion, declaring
it Tri-Swine-Omega Month at NIU and the city of DeKalb.
That has got to be the weirdest proclamation ever entered into
the City Council minutes if it ever was.