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Social fraternities, which had gained a strong foothold in Old Asbury, grew even more important in the new DePauw University. By 1918 seven new fraternities had been organized on the DePauw campus, though only three proved permanent additions. These were Delta Upsilon (1887), Sigma Nu (1890), and Lambda Chi Alpha (1915), the last of which had originated as the Darsee (DePauw Rooming) Club in 1912.



Even more sororities were organized at DePauw during these years, six of which have persisted to the present. The first was Alpha Chi Omega (1885), which began as a group of music students but widened to include others; a second musical sorority, Phi Mu Epsilon, was founded at DePauw but disbanded in 1905. Additional permanent sorority chapters appearing on campus before 1918 were Alpha Phi (1888), Alpha Omicron Pi (1907), Alpha Gamma Delta (1908), Delta Delta Delta (1908), and Delta Zeta (1909).

In 1889 Phi Kappa Psi became the first fraternity to rent a whole building as a chapter house rather than simply meet in rented rooms on the courthouse square. The next year Beta Theta Pi took the further step of purchasing the home of a departing professor, which 13 years later was incorporated into a brick fraternity house, the first such on campus. Shortly afterwards Sigma Chi built an entirely new chapter house. By 1918 most fraternities and sororities either owned or rented such residences to house their members.



Although membership in the social fraternities was growing, they still composed only a minority of the student body. Competition for new members was fierce, and the pledging process largely unregulated. Rushing was called "Spiking," and often consisted of active members going to the railroad station with a carriage to meet incoming trains and seizing upon unsuspecting freshmen whom they took back to their chapter houses, where the newcomers were promptly pledged.

The attempt to keep spiking under control was one of the factors behind the organization of both men's and women's Panhellenic societies in the 1900s. As early as 1887 a men's Panhellenic banquet was held, and in 1890 there was founded an organization called the Skulls, composed of two senior members of each fraternity and later known as Kappa Phi Omicron Kappa. A similar organization for women was Ribs and Jawbones, also known as Gamma Tau Pi. Both eventually disbanded without having served any very significant purpose. Kappa Tau Kappa, founded in 1902, survived almost to the present as an important interfraternity council.

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