DTD at MC #56.5

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Here is the story that Rick Dunsker wrote for our 40th booklet. I hope that you enjoy it.

Delta Tau Delta - Epsilon Upsilon
Mid- 1970's


I'd like to thank Dave Broome for his note encouraging us to send in stories about our experiences as Delts at Marietta. I had talked to Rick about this exact thing a number of months ago, but never got my butt in gear to do my part. So Dave (and the Classes of '75 - '79), this is for you.

What made the Delts such a fantastic group to be a part of in those years was that we did everything our own way, which usually put us at odds with the conventions about Greeks of that time. We were by far the newest house on campus, yet we
retired the scholarship cup more than any other house. We were the smallest house on campus, yet the most ethnically diverse (before "diversity" became a buzzword). Our chapter was full of guys who, in their freshman years, swore they would never join a fraternity. Put politely, most other Greeks weren't quite sure we "belonged", and we loved it that way.

Case in point: Our '76 yearbook picture. While all the other houses that year had their pictures taken in or around their houses, we had ours taken... somewhere more interesting (see attached). What a bunch of miscreants.

In this spirit, I offer the following two stories.

The "Greek" Scholarship Bowl

In the Spring of '75 we'd been named a Top 20 Chapter. The following Fall we considered what we our next steps might be. Someone mentioned starting a regional DTD competition like the annual basketball tournament held by the Ohio State (or was it the OU?) Chapter. We wanted it to be something "different", but that would be supported by the administration.

Eventually we settled on a quiz bowl. We wouldn't need to book a heavily used facility like Ban Johnson and our chapter would actually have a shot at being competitive. We knew this would be a huge undertaking and were afraid to just go for it without any practice. We needed a dry run, but with whom? The answer was
obvious.... the Greeks of Marietta. Given our rep at the time, though, our odds of getting more than a few houses to cooperate were nil. If we were going to get our dry run, we were going to have to do it under different auspices.

Luckily alternatives were available. A number of us, including Matt Sutko, Bob Peterson, and I were members of honoraria and Trustee committees, giving us unusual access to faculty and staff who would be crucial to getting rooms and resources. (Ya, we were a regular house full of big shots!) We posed the idea to these contacts, they instantly loved it.

There had been a Quiz bowl on campus 10 years earlier. In fact the Communications Department still had the old buzzers in a closet in case the idea ever made a comeback. They were glad to help. Now how do we get the rest of the Greeks to join in? In the first planning meeting we came upon an idea: What if there was no official
administrative sponsor? What if we somehow got the Greeks to sponsor the bowl themselves?

One of the great things about Marietta College was (and still is) the degree of access students get to faculty and staff. There are very few people whom one couldn't just walk in on if you had an issue or concern. One of the exceptions was the Dean of the College. Few students had ever seen the guy much less talked with him. A few days after our first meeting, the Presidents of each house received a letter from Dean
Bosch, on his stationary, congratulating the Fraternity and Sorority Councils on their idea to hold a Greek Scholarship Bowl. Of course, none of them knew anything about it, and luckily, none thought to ask the administration for fear of appearing out of the loop. The trap was set.

While other Delts worked on logistics with our faculty supporters, Matt Sutko and I took on the task of recruitment. A week after the Dean's note was sent, we visited
all the houses asking their presidents if they had discussed participation with their members yet. After varying degrees of upset and frantic "What's this all about?", folks who normally wouldn't have given Matt or I the time of day, anxiously agreed to do whatever we wanted of them. No one asked who started this "College Bowl" thing or why the only students involved were Delts.

Long story short, both Greek Councils agreed to "sponsor" the event. Every house helped gather prizes from local merchants and fielded a team. The questioning and judging were completely handled by faculty members, and the contest, literally, came down to the last question (I'm not exaggerating). But what made the event Hollywood-perfect was, you guessed it, the Delt team won!

As I understand it, the Greek Councils took control of the College Bowl and held it for a few years after that, but Epsilon Upsilon never did hold a regional Delt event. Oh,
well....


Ed Holmes for President

It was the Spring of '76, and student council elections were only days away. By the
mid-70s the student activism you younger brothers may have heard about was long
over. The U.S.'s involvement in Vietnam had ended, disco music was on the rise, and no one gave a rat's petute about "getting involved" in student government, or any other serious distraction from book and beer.

The part that matters: Only one guy (not person... guy) was running for Student Body President. He was backed by the TEPs and a few other houses, and we Delts didn't particularly like him. So as a number of us partook(?) that evening in the newly completed attic common space (it was fun while it lasted), we complained at one another. "How can we let D.M. run unopposed?!? Someone's GOT to run against him!"

The only guys who were willing were myself and Bob Peterson, both seniors and
ineligible. The group of 6 or 7 of us regarded one another through squinty eyes, and applied our altered consciousnesses to the problem. The answer soon became clear. Well, actually one of us just blurted out a nutty idea for a laugh.

"Why don't we run someone who doesn't exist?"

The idea did get a good laugh, but the more devious of us saw the brilliance of the
proposal:

- D.M. would no longer run unopposed. He would be caught completely off guard and take days to figure out what was going on (Ashton Kutcher would have been proud, if he'd been born yet).
- We could have a great time stringing the campus along for a few days, making fun of an institution that never had a lot of relevance to most students anyway.
- Most importantly, no one had to give speeches, answer questions about his platform, and be humiliated when he lost, or worse yet, have to serve as President if by some chance he actually won.

Perfect!

So who is this mystery guy, what's his name? He had to sound like a good, old Ohio boy... someone with integrity who you could trust... just the sort of straight arrow you'd expect to run for student body president on sheer principles. We settled on "Ed Holmes".

Now for the hard part: Marietta is a tiny school. Why are the only people who know this guy in the Delt house, and why are we helping him? Like Occam's Razor, the simplest answer was the best (and the most believable). Ed had just transferred from Denison University, in central Ohio. He was a Delt there and very active in
student government (BTW: There was no Delt chapter at Denison). When he heard that D.M. was running unopposed he said he would give it a shot even though he knew the chances were slim. No one had seen him before because he was living with his aunt and uncle out on Greene Street just past the inte rstate. How could this not be the truth?

Ed needed someone to speak for him during his frequent absences from campus. For that, once again, my little brother Matt Sutko stepped forward. A Poli-Sci major, and excellent debater, Matt had his schpiel/platform together almost before our party (oops, I mean planning session) broke up for the night.

This was Saturday night. The polls would open on Wednesday. We had a candidate, a cover story and a spokesman. It was time for the mighty Delt political machine to swing into action!

On Sunday Matt and crew created a huge banner announcing that Ed Holmes' write-in candidacy for president with Matt as his running mate for V.P. They hung it across the front of Andrews Hall. I'm not sure who they bribed to pull this off, but
it remained there until election day.

On Monday the campaign started in earnest. There was only one hole in our plans that could sink Ed's legitimacy, the student files in the Admin. building. Luckily, another fine brother, Shea McGrew, had some pull with a relevant administrator... his mother, Louise, worked in the Records Department.

That morning Matt and I let her in on the gag. Once she understood that D.M. would win regardless, she put Ed Holmes' name on a manila folder and placed it in the appropriate file drawer. If over the next few days anyone came to inquire whether Ed was a student at the college, she agreed to look in the drawer and respond "Yes, I have a file for him." We Delts could also tell those who challenged us, "If you don't believe me just check the Records Office." We were ready to face the
voting public.

That evening we learned that many other students were unhappy with D.M.'s "inevitability factor". Delta Tau Delta was an exception to numerous rules in those days. One of them was that 507 Putnam didn't house enough people to warrant food service. Those who lived in the house had a choice of cooking their own meals, or making other arrangements. Three of us, Dave Barker, Geoff Dean and I ate dinner at the Tri-Sigma sorority on Fifth Street.

That night, completely unplanned, Geoff and Dave sat at one end of the long dining table and I at opposite end. As the food was being served I casually asked, just loudly enough for the 20 women at the table to hear, "So Dave... you think Ed's
got a chance of winning?" Without missing a beat Dave responded, "I don't know, we don't have much time 'til the election." Of course, everyone wanted to know what we were talking about. When, with unbelievable sincerity, Geoff added, "Ed just doesn't think it's right for D.M. to run unopposed," one of the Tri-Sigs responded, "I don't care who he is, I'll vote for him." The race was on.

By Tuesday evening students still weren't certain whether Ed Holmes was a hoax, but just in case D.M. declared that if he didn't receive a majority of the votes he wouldn't take office. On Wednesday, the people spoke with their ballots, and luckily, he didn't have to keep that promise. D.M. won, but considering he was running against a phantom his majority was less than impressive. In a 3 1/2 day campaign, Ed Holmes got 41% of the votes, on write-ins. Hoo-hooooo!

The incident so angered the student "powers that be" that even though it was one of
the events of the year, the only mention of it in the '76 Mariettana was in the Delta Tau Delta blurb (see attached). The campus was punked and the Greeks were pissed. Mission accomplished!

I encourage other brothers from the mid-70's classes to straighten out the errors in my stories and share their own concerning other memorable happenings.

I also want to give a huge THANK YOU to Rick Neel for all he's doing to pull us back
together. He was one of the first guys I met when first I wandered into 507 Putnam to check out the Delts. His unprovoked and irreverent insults towards a perfect stranger (think small-town Don Rickles) were among the things that convinced me the Delt were worth a second (and a third) look. You're doing a fantastic job!

Regards,
Rick Dunsker, Class of '76

(The Bicentennial Year!)

1 Comments:

Blogger Pete D. said...

Ahh, those were the days. Having found this blog by accedent, I was amazed that I was listed as "missing"! What?!, I'm right here living in Cranberry Twp, PA
(15 miles north of Pittsburgh). Email is hgatherer@yahoo.com

6:22 PM

 

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