Skip Navigation
Mike Lange
The last mention of Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) I could find in the Badger yearbook was in 1963. After peaking in the 1950s, membership in UW-Madison’s fraternities and sororities dwindled in the 1960s and 1970s. Greek life was, in some people’s minds, irrelevant during the Vietnam War, Watergate and the failings of the civil rights movement. It’s quite possible that ATO’s downfall coincided with this more radical campus environment and culture of the times. Ironically, it was a different war that inspired the birth of Alpha Tau Omega in 1865. ATO was the first national fraternity founded after the Civil War, to help heal the wounds created by that devastating war and reunite the North and South. Sixteen years after ATO’s founding, the first chapter north of the Mason-Dixon line was chartered at the University of Pennsylvania. Greek life at the University of Wisconsin also grew rapidly after the Civil War. During the late 1800s, fraternal organizations purchased land near the campus to build chapter houses, providing an important source of student housing during that era. ATO’s house was built along the shores of Lake Mendota. Notable Alpha Taus include the late William H. Davidson ’28, co-founder and former president of Harley-Davidson Motor Company.

More From Ask Flamingle HQ