Varsity Bachelor Club
by Tim Shea 1084
Founded in February of 1902, by ten "turned-down, heart pierced young men ... in short, ten unsuccessful lovers" formed the Varsity Bachelors Club. "Equivalent to the more recent Blue Key society, as well as a social organization, the Bachelors club became a society of the student leaders and enjoyed special favors from the faculty. Its vigor and influence were at their peak in 1909 when the legislature approved a bill, introduced into the house by Fred Traynor, an alumnus, to lease a site on the campus for a chapter house, the first one to be built and owned by any fraternity ... Located on the banks of the English Coulee directly west of the gymnasium, the house was completed in 1910 at a cost of more than $20,000.
It was undoubtedly the high caliber of this first fraternity - the Bachelors gave the first annual prize for academic excellence - which caused the faculty to approve more readily than they might otherwise have done the petitions of other groups."
The above quotations are from "University of the Northern Plains by Dr. Louis G. Geiger, Chapter 7 "
The original by-laws provided that the membership should be limited to 10 and that no vacancy should be filled after April 1,1902. The real purpose of the organization was to perpetuate the friendship of those 10. As seen by Article 2 of their original constitution:
"The object of this fraternity shall be to form a more perfect and lasting friendship, to give help to those members who need assistance, and to gets its members married as soon as possible."
Wm. F. Lemke was one of the originators and promoters of the organization. On the 22 of February 1902 in room 13 in Budge Hall the following men met and adopted and signed the constitution. They were Wm. Lemke, Gorden C. Douglas, Fred Larsen, Lee L. Wilcox, Gudmundur Grimson, Henry J. Devaney, Sigbjorn Steenberg, J. Floyd Stevens, Fred J. Traynor and Victor Wardrope.
Naturally such an organization aroused some opposition. A group of girls organized themselves as the "Silly Six" in protest to their boy friends embracing bachelorhood. A group of ten boys formed a counter organization called the "Banded Brothers of Bungaloo" which afterwards became the Sigma Chi’s.
The VBC adopted an emblem of the heart pierced by an arrow. A scholarship was established and awarded in 1905 for the student with the greatest all around development. The VBC made a present of a half dozen sterling silver teaspoons carrying the emblem to members that got married early in their history.
Five degrees were established. The first degree was limited to fifteen students. The second degree consisted of the graduates who had been active members for at least one year. The third degree was to be conferred upon any member on his marriage and the forth degree upon the arrival of his first born. The fifth degree was to be conferred upon the first member of the club to get married and on him alone. That was Gudmundur Grimson.
Officers were Chief Bachelor, Vice Chief Bachelor, Secretary and Treasurer for first degree members. Grand Chief officers of the same designation were provided for the higher degrees.