Students start gentleman's club
Published: Wednesday, October 1, 2003
Updated: Sunday, September 13, 2009 09:09
A picture of Jim Belushi swigging a bottle of whiskey stares down from a wall of the innocent-looking house at 1418 S. Seventh St. It's an appropriate image for the occupants of the house - five ISU students who live a life that is a mix between the movies "Animal House" and "Old School," according to house resident Scott Shake.
Shake and his roommates discussed the organization that has materialized from a whim at their house Tuesday afternoon in an animated conversation that bounced between planning a wet T-shirt contest and talking about the fraternity that all but one of the roommates used to belong to.
In recent weeks the idea of Tau Nu Alpha (which the friends said stands for tits and ass "unofficially"), has been thrust into the spotlight over a mandate from the city to take down their controversial banner that they were displaying outside the house.
The club's banner, which utilizes the greek letters Tau Nu Alpha and a silhouette of a naked woman, attracted attention from the city after TNA was featured on local television news channel WTHI.
The WTHI reporter was so enthralled with the club that he returned for the club's party after getting off work, according to TNA members.
Lately, things like that aren't too uncommon, according to house member Clint Longest.
People are always coming up to him during class or even popping up on his America Online instant messenger account, he said. A DJ volunteered to play their parties for free, members said.
The roommates definitely didn't expect the overwhelming response when they first hoisted their banner, Shaker said.
The friends have risen to the challenge, even to the extent of passing out bid cards and making T-shirts, he said.
But TNA is not a greek organization, the members say.
"On the [WTHI] newscast, they said we were making fun of greek life and we're not trying to," Shaker said.
"We're just a club using greek letters," he said.
The club's founding members make no bones about the fact that many of them are former members of the ISU chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha, whose charter was revoked by its national headquarters in 2002.
The club gives them a way to enjoy some of the benefits without hassles over money. TNA doesn't charges dues, Shaker said.
"We're the best of both worlds," TNA member Kory Coleman said. Club membership is mostly upperclassmen, with a few freshmen thrown in.
"There's a couple guys in fraternities, we're not saying who they are or anything," Shaker said, adding that there shouldn't be any conflict for those members, since TNA is not a greek organization.
While TNA members say they haven't been contacted about their organization by ISU's greek system, one man is definitely watching the developing club.
TNA "is one of a few groups masquerading as bonified fraternal groups on this campus," according to Damien Duchamp.
Duchamp, an assistant director of student life who works mainly with the ISU greek system, said TNA is not the first start-up group he has seen that has mimicked some aspects of greek stereotypes.
"I don't want to call them a fad or they'll grow re-energized by that," he said.
Groups like TNA can cause problems for university-recognized greek organizations in several ways, Duchamp said.
Students may mistake the club for a university-recognized organization and the actions of the club may reflect negatively on the greek community, he said.
"Hopefully, they don't do anything stupid and get anybody hurt," Duchamp said.
For TNA members, it's not a question so much of what they aren't as what they want to be.
"It's blowing up a lot bigger than we ever thought it would," Longest said.
Tonight, the 40-odd members of the club are meeting to decide what direction the club should take and, of course, to discuss upcoming parties.
TNA could become an official campus group through the Student Government Association, but could never become a recognized fraternity on campus. ISU only recognizes national groups, Duchamp said.
The organization of "mock" groups is nothing new, he said.
The Groove Phi Groove fraternity started as a mockery of the historically black fraternity experience, complete with a beer mug in the middle of its crest.
Now it is an actual national fraternity, Duchamp said.
"They started out mocking, then they became," he said. "All in all, imitation is the highest form of flattery."