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
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
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
wasn’t the first time that brothers had made their mark during football
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!”