Monday, December 6, 2010

Not Entirely Pretty Portrait of Fraternity Life at Berkeley in Late 19th/Early 20th Century

Zeta Psi's history at UC Berkeley unearthed (excerpt)

Debra Levi Holtz, San Francisco Chronicle

December 6, 2010

Like present-day members, the boys in University of California's oldest fraternity played poker, drank beer and pulled campus pranks during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But the brothers of the prestigious Zeta Psi fraternity also dressed impeccably, had live-in servants and preferred hanging out with each other to dating women… The early alumni of the 140-year-old Iota chapter of Zeta Psi at UC Berkeley went on to become politicians, professors and bankers. The roster includes former California Gov. James Budd and financier Dean Witter. Their undergraduate years are the subject of a new book called "The Lost Boys of Zeta Psi" by Laurie Wilkie, a UC Berkeley anthropology professor who discovered a long-buried cache of Zeta Psi artifacts outside her office window 15 years ago.

…Evidence that some brothers cross-dressed in the early 20th century, including a photo of several brothers dressed in flapper drag, suggests they were mocking rather than emulating women. …The underground lair was also the site of rituals such as "tubbing," a form of punishment for freshmen infractions as benign as failing to adequately clean the bathroom. It involved forcing a pledge to strip down to nothing but a necktie and stand in a tub of ice-cold water. One brother would hold him by the necktie, another would punch him in the stomach and, as he exhaled, he was plunged underwater.

…They found that the Zetes were largely homebodies. From 1910 through at least the '30s, live-in male Chinese servants cooked and cleaned for the young men. "On a daily basis, they lived an unglamorous life," Wilkie said. "There was a lot of hanging out, chatting, shared meals and card playing."

Full article at:

Sorry, I have no Zeta Psi songs. You'll have to be satisfied with what we have:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The rest of the article is pretty good! The excerpts and title you chose paint a totally different picture.