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The 60's

Through the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Alpha Tau Omega established itself on the USC campus. In 1963, Noel Hanson (‘62) was elected Chairman of Songfest, the largest all-student collegiate musicale in the nation.

Those years were represented by traditional “fraternity” activities.  One example, in the mid 1960s, was the ATO “Name the Anteater” contest, where students were encouraged to help find a name for the pet anteater the chapter had adopted.  The winning entry:  “SCATO”. At the same time, some very serious issues were facing college campuses and fraternities in particular.  The escalation of the war in Vietnam and college deferments were topic number one for college men.  In addition, the relevancy of fraternities were debated at this time, especially the issue about membership restrictions and civil rights.  Like most other fraternities based in the South and Midwest, ATO had restrictive membership requirements.  Those restrictions were abolished in the late 1960s.

The late 1960’s and early 1970’s saw the decline of fraternities on college campuses. Many chapters closed their doors during these years. ATO was not untouched by the decline, at one point dipping to a membership of only nine. ATO remained active during those years however, sponsoring a Vietnam Christmas Project in 1965 by sending care packages to the Marines based at Da Nang Airbase in South Vietnam.

The restaurants and other places of entertainment frequented by the members in the 1960’s would be quite familiar to most everyone initiated over the past fifty years. The Taus enjoyed Woody’s Smorgasburger at the end of “The Row,” as well as The Pantry, Phillipe’s, Tommy’s and Julie’s. They also were known to visit the old 901 Club on Jefferson, which eventually moved to Figueroa Street, where it remains a campus institution today.  

Bob Barton (‘69), twice president of ATO and then president of Trojan Knights, caused a national sensation in 1971 when he orchestrated the now famous card stunt “WESTWOOD SUCKS” on national television during the USC-UCLA football game. The full message of the series of card stunts read “Why do people go to UCLA? WESTWOOD SUCKS Them In!” Unfortunately, or fortunately as it may be, ABC TV only showed the one portion of the card stunt on national television.  

This wasn’t the only spirited attack led by Trojan Taus against their cross-town rivals during the decade, either. The Taus painted the entire center of UCLA’s fraternity row in cardinal and gold one year. Another year brother Phil Marshall and another SC student got caught by the Phi Delts putting FUCLA bumper stickers on cars in a Westwood parking garage. They had their heads shaved and were chained naked to a flagpole on campus.    This wasn’t the first time that brothers had made their mark during football season. 

In 1947, members of the Alpha Tau Club started a USC campus tradition that lasted for several years. Lee Holcomb provided a small welder’s tank that powered an Air Horn. It became known as Aunt “Howling” Bessie and it was a central part of the student rooting section for several years. Bob Kennedy, also a member of the Alpha Tau Club, is generally regarded as the person responsible for the famous USC “Charge.” He would play his bugle and the fans would yell “CHARGE!”

Alpha Tau Omega at USC