A History of Faith and Purpose...........
The story of Gamma Triton begins in Columbia, South Carolina in the early 1900 with a determined group of young men and a few restrictive state laws. Back in those days, South Carolina had an Anti-Fraternity Law on the books that prevented the formation and operation of fraternal organizations within the state. To get around these restrictions, the founding members decided instead of forming a “fraternity”, they would instead form a “club”; the Hermes Club. The Hermes Club was established to band together “club members” for the mutual benefit of all. Thus the Hermes Club was born, a true fraternity of all aspects except for the name. That finally changed in 1929 with the abolition of the Anti-Fraternity Law. The gentlemen of Phi Sigma Kappa then officially opened their arms to the members of the Hermes Club, establishing the third fraternity to be chartered within the State of South Carolina. In 1963, tragedy struck members of Gamma Triton and various events, both internal and external, led to the dissolution of this brotherhood. For 40 years Gamma Triton floated in a land of limbo. The chapter had not been closed, it had merely suspended operations. It existed on record, yet it had a small asterisk by it, representing the fact that the fraternity was in hibernation, waiting for some group of strong individuals to come to South Carolina and revive the great tradition that is Gamma Triton. The recent history of Gamma Triton is a journey that was faced with many trials and tribulations, but more so the former than the latter. The rocky and rough adventure began on a Sunday night in August 2001 when a group of freshmen men, unhappy with the current choices in Greek organizations, decided to form their own chapter of brethren. Little did those men know that what they were forming would not only change their lives drastically, but would also shake the very foundation of Greek Life at Carolina. Banks Fair, the man who originally had the idea of starting a fraternity, met with Kevin Sean McGreevey who was then their Residence Hall Director. Sean talked with Banks for a while and mentioned all the great things a fraternity can do for young men, recalling his experience as a brother of the Epsilon Rho Chapter of Phi Sigma Kappa during his undergraduate adventures. Recalling the name “Phi Sigma Kappa” and after conducing a little research, the gentlemen learned that the Gamma Triton Chapter of Phi Sigma Kappa used to exist until the early 1960s. They decided that they would take on the monumental task of bringing the chapter out of hibernation, and back into prominence. The future gentlemen of Gamma Triton, then known as the Hermes Club, in honor of the original chartered members of Phi Sigma Kappa, first met on September 9, 2001 with a total of 17 men attending the first meeting. With a discussion led by Mr. Fair and aided by Sean McGreevey, a date of colonization for Gamma Triton was chosen and a few months later, on November 18, 2001, 27 men were associated into the newly formed colony of Gamma Triton.
However, the early colony ran into more challenges than the members thought could exist. The first battle was with Greek Life at Carolina, who told the men repeatedly that they were not welcome as a member of Greek Life and that the group would not last. The group became as large as 28 until the glory days faded over the summer with Greek Life continually delaying the vote of recognition for the group. The situation turned from bad to ugly in the fall of 2002 when heavy pressure not to succeed from the University and Greek Life attributed to a drop in the colony’s membership to six men as members lost the fire that had been ignited in the beginning.
The common perception at that point was that the premonitions of Greek Life were true and the chapter would never come to be. But of the six that remained, they thought differently. The six member group only consisted of the Executive Board and the group set forth a plan to slowly rebuild the group so that they would still reach their goal of obtaining a charter by November 2003, but with a heavy emphasis of quality over quantity. The road looked a little clearer in the near future as the group started to grow. January 2003 came and went and Gamma Triton was up to nine members. Those nine members attended the Regional Conclave and impressed other Phi Sig chapters in the region with our attitude, not caring what the University could stack against the group, Gamma Triton was determined to succeed. Throughout the Spring 2003 semester, colony numbers hovered around 15 as the group continued to fight for official recognition on campus. Finally, in February of that year, Fraternity Council finally partially bowed to the repeated requests of the members of Gamma Triton for campus recognition by forming an expansion committee to evaluate the group. The slow and tedious process of bowing to the whims of Fraternity Council continued for several months until finally, on April 27, 2003, Fraternity Council voted to recognize Phi Sigma Kappa on the campus of the University of South Carolina in their last meeting of the semester, over a year and five months after the group was colonized by the Grand Chapter. Finally, Phi Sigma Kappa letters could be shown around campus. Summer came and went once again and, partially due to the timing of the recognition vote of Fraternity Council coming so late in the semester; numbers fell for the colony yet again. Returning from summer break, the colony was faced with the tough decision of sending in the Chartering Petition as planned or to delay it because many of the members felt that the group was not ready. Following many rounds of heated discussions and long nights among the members, the decision was made to postpone the Chartering Petition to February 2004 as the group finished the fall 2003 semester and headed into January 2004, hopeful that the progress the group had achieved and all the nightmare of all obstacles that had been overcome would be enough for the colony to be granted a charter. However, that nightmare reared its ugly head yet again when the Grand Council placed a hold on the Chartering Petition for Gamma Triton in January 2004 because of the group’s roster size. Grand Council Director Doug Diekow traveled to Columbia to deliver the news to the group, who took the initial rejection hard that night. The next day however, a spark was lit and the group collectively was determined not to let anyone stand in their way as they were infused with another bolt of energy, determined to prove all of the naysayers wrong. The colony entered into Spring Rush determined to get more men and, between formal and informal recruitment, 16 men joined the ranks of Gamma Triton as another Chartering Petition was sent to the Grand Chapter with a potential chartering ceremony date of March 20, 2004. One final hurdle had to be overcome as the Grand Council initially rejected the date of March 20th. Nonetheless, after numerous e-mails and phone calls with members of the Grand Council, then-Colony President Jonathan Hebda convinced the Grand Council that March 20th would be a do-or-die date for Gamma Triton’s chartering. The Grand Council acquiesced to Gamma Triton’s stipulation of a March 20th chartering date and on March 20, 2004, 28 gentlemen entered the bond of brotherhood of Phi Sigma Kappa and the Charter was established.
In meeting with members from the International Headquarters Staff just before the Chapter Installation ceremony, the members of Gamma Triton were warned to continue the hard work they had done during their colonization period. Knowing great things were in store for the chapter, the group was given the advice of patience as the goal of obtaining the Herbert L. Brown Outstanding Chapter of the Year Award would be a task of at least three years of hard work.
Always a group ready and willing to take on a challenge and rise above the occasion, the Chapter hit the ground running in their first year determined to excel beyond what could be expected. The hard work paid off as the Gamma Triton Chapter received 16 chapter and/or individual awards in only their first year. The culmination of such success occurred at the 60th General Convention where, just one year and five months after the chapter received it’s charter, Gamma Triton was awarded the “Herbie,” the Herbert L. Brown Outstanding Chapter of the Year Award, blowing away the three year period predicted by the International Headquarters Staff. It is no surprise the chapter received the “Herbie” in their first year, as that year marked one of unprecedented campus leadership and success for a fraternity at Carolina. During that 2004-2005 academic calendar year, the Phi Sigs held six student senators, two members of the Carolina Student Judicial Council, two members of the Army ROTC, the President of the Newman Club, the Vice-President of the Residence Hall Association, two consecutive Presidents of McBryde Quadrangle (hall) Government, two Executive Board members of Dance Marathon, and many, many more. Since the chapter’s installation, the members of Gamma Triton continues to face numerous hurdles, yet on each occasion, the men have risen to the occasion displaying leadership, fortitude, brotherhood, and ultimately success not seen among Greek organizations on the Carolina campus in years. These gentlemen have made Gamma Triton a group that Phi Sigs around the natrion can be envious an Damn Proud of! Yet, the history and accomplishments of Gamma Triton are far from being finished as the group looks forward to continued success in the coming years, still not afraid of any challenge to be put before the group. The Gamma Triton Chapter today continues to set the standard on campus for young men wishing to excel in college, instilling the principles of Brotherhood, Scholarship and Character among her sixty-five members.