Traditions


The Victory Bell

The Bell which currently stands inside the Ritter Ice Arena is most commonly referred to as the Victory Bell. This bell was donated to the Institute in the name of the fifth pledge class of Alpha Phi Omega for the purpose of rallying the student body to support their athletic teams. The following is a history of the bell:

In 1879, this bell was forged and was then used in the Ritchfield Spring Schoolhouse and weighs 400 lbs. One day in October 1964, Mr. A. Stephen Walls and his family were driving back home from a vacation in Vermont. While they were passing Palantine Bridge, NY, near Utica, Mr. Walls told the brotherhood about the bell, and on Tuesday, October 18, 1964 the brothers voted to purchase it.

The Committee which went to Palantine Bridge to purchase the bell consisted of Mr. Wals, Richard Barazzotto (Chairman), Roger Kramer, and David McKay. The Bell cost $70.00, and the money was contributed jointly by Alpha Phi Omega and Alumni.

On the evening of October 19, 1964, the committee met at Mr. Walls's house for a late supper. Afterwards, they went to Palantine Bridge in Mr. Walls’s 1961 Chevy Wagon. Upon their arrival, they purchased the bell and brought it back to RIT.

The next day, Richard Barazzotto made all the preparation for cleaning the bell and unveiling it. The unveiling took place at a pep rally for the soccer team the Friday before their Homecoming game, which was on October 21.

After the ceremony the bell was kept in storage until the spring of 1965 when it was installed outside the Ritter Clark Gymnasium. When the Institute moved to the new campus, the bell was left at its former location.

The Fraternity, seeing a need for it, made plans to move it to the new campus. Both the seventeenth pledge class and the brotherhood decided that the bell should be mounted in such a way that it could be brought to sporting events regardless of location. A special cart was designed and built by the seventeenth pledge class. On a cold and rainy night in late October 1968, the bell was brought to the Fraternity House and mounted.

The Bell is presently kept in the Frank Ritter Memorial Ice Arena and rung by brothers at all hockey games. The fifty-second pledge class built a new frame for the bell.

 

SPIRIT

The origin of the RIT mascot came about when David Page and Roger Kramer set up the Tiger Committee, which was composed of Roger Kramer, David Page, Dennis Kitchen, and James Black with A. Stephen Walls as an adviser. Their purpose was to acquire a live tiger as the RIT mascot. They solicited funds from the Student Association (now called Student Government) and by selling “Tiger Shares” to the students, faculty and staff. A four-month-old cub was purchased from the Dallas Texas Zoo for $1000. It was given to the Rochester Zoological Society and was housed at the Seneca Park Zoo.

The brothers were able to bring the cub to campus until it reached the age of six months. A contest was held to determine the name, and it was decided that he would be named SPIRIT, an abbreviation for Student Pride In RIT. Before and after the contest, the brothers affectionately called the tiger “Tora” (Tora is the Japanese word for tiger). Unfortunately, as SPIRIT grew it became increasingly less practical to bring him to campus, requiring multiple handlers.

The following year, SPIRIT was diagnosed with a calcium deficiency. In an attempt to correct this, calcium supplements were hidden in his food, but he would often dig the supplements out to avoid eating them. In a more assertive attempt to force SPIRIT to take his medicine, his food was presoaked in a calcium solution. At this point, however, an even more serious problem related to his pelvic bone structure became apparent. The condition would not be fatal as long as he was calcium deficient, but as long as he was calcium deficient he would not survive either. Unable to overcome either condition without causing the other to turn fatal, SPIRIT was put to sleep. RIT was given the skin, which is presently stored in the university archives on the third floor of the Wallace Library.

Shortly thereafter, the Alumni Association and Student Association approved another $1,000 to purchase a new tiger, dubbed SPIRIT II. SPIRIT II was an adult at the time of purchase and was never brought to the RIT campus. SPIRIT II died years later, and since he never mated while in captivity, the goal of an RIT tiger dynasty was never fulfilled.

Years later, a bronze memorial statue of the original SPIRIT was purchased and placed in the exact center of the RIT property.

 

Doughnut Runs

Doughnut runs began in 1981 during the spring finals week when Christopher Hurley decided to bring some happiness to fellow brothers in their distress. He had heard of the idea of the doughnut run from his Little Brother, Roy Saucier, who had recently transferred to the Mu Omicron chapter at Clarkson University. Now, doughnut runs are started by a small group of brothers at any time of the day or night. The only rule is that if a brother knocks on a door with a doughnut, the second brother must open the door and accept a doughnut. He/she is then invited to join the band and continue to doughnut run other brothers.

The tradition lapsed in the early 2000s, but was reactivated in the spring of 2009.

 

Blair Memorial Bridge

The first completed structure on the new campus was the Blair Bridge. The bridge, named after Xi Zeta's first president, was constructed by the fraternity to enable students to cross Red Creek when entering the athletic fields outside of Gracie’s. During its existence, the bridge required numerous repairs. At one point, pledge Cliff Snider was tied to its side for an hour in order to re-stabilize it.

The thirteenth pledge class was marched out to the new campus and onto the bridge. Unable to withstand the weight of many marching brothers and pledges, the bridge collapsed. Finally unable to reconstruct it to any degree of safety, the bridge's components were taken apart by the sixteenth pledge class in 1968.

Later, the bridge was rebuilt and repainted by the thirty-second pledge class in the spring of 1974. During the winter of 1980, the bridge fell into disrepair and was washed away when the creek swelled and flooded in the spring of 1981. Since then, the bridge has not been rebuilt, but remains one of the most significant undertakings the Xi Zeta chapter has engaged in.

 

A. P. Opus

A. P. Opus (commonly, “Opus”) became a mascot of the chapter because of the work of Brother Michael Kim in 1985. A mural of Opus designed by Michael and painted by the brothers, was made in the residential tunnels that year and shirts were made.

Over the course of Opus’s life as the Chapter mascot, he has acquired a considerable number of accessories. Tammy Sharpstene made the blue and yellow jacket for Opus in 1986. The mother of Ryan Snyder made a hat for Opus in the spring of 2006. Amy Masterman (then a member of the SUNY Brockport chapter before coming to RIT for graduate school) made a purple cane for Opus (a reference to a bright purple suit owned by Chris Forbes) later that year.

Currently, whenever the Chapter receives a pin, either from a service project it participated in or a conference it attended, the pin is attached to Opus’s hat or jacket as a memento for future brothers.

 

Broomball Tournament

The Xi Zeta Chapter has been hosting a Broomball Tournament since the 1970’s. The tournament provided an opportunity for students to warm up on cold winter nights. Social fraternities, RIT organizations, and other APO chapters would register for the tournament. The tournament used to run a 64-team tournament over three nights, starting on Thursday nights and continuing through the weekend. More recently, the chapter has run a 10-12 team tournament as a one night event. After the event, brothers would eat at the Perkins Restaurant. More recently, brothers have eaten at Jay’s Diner after the conclusion of the tournament.