Tau Kappa Alpha Fraternity
Initiation Ritual



Three men are necessary to stage the ritualistic work, the President of the Chapter and two guides, who should be clothed in Oxford gowns to add to the dignity and solemnity of the service.
Candidates should be taken singly up to the point where they have made their first serious speech. After that, beginning with section marked (B), they may be taken singly or collectively, according to the will of the Chapter.
The paragraph marked (A) may, at the discretion of the Chapter, be omitted in order to shorten the ceremony. This paragraph provides for two brief extemporaneous speeches by members of the Chapter.
The section marked (C), explaining the symbolism of the Key, may be deferred to the end of the initiation, and may, at the Chapter's option, be given by the Secretary or some other
member, but the charge, beginning at (D) should always be given by the President of the Chapter himself.

The Ceremony

The candidate is brought before the President of the Chapter, in the presence of the Chapter.
Mr. , you have been elected to membership in Tau Kappa Alpha upon the recommendation of those who have been closely associated with you. These brothers have vouched for your excellence as a public speaker, your attainments as a scholar, and your worth as a man.
We receive you with great pleasure and hope your association with us will be pleasant and
profitable for all concerned.
Brother addressing one of the members, will you welcome Mr. to our midst?
Brief speech from the brother.
Brother addressing another of the members of the Chapter, we should like to hear from you also.
Speech by another brother.
According to custom, we will now be favored with a brief speech from the candidate, Mr. , who will talk on the subject, "---."
Interruptions; jeers.
My brother, be not disheartened by the loud acclaim which has been raised against you. We are told that even Demosthenes, the greatest orator of all times, when first he mounted the bema, was likewise hooted down. He was awkward in his bearing and his voice was harsh and tuneless. His speech wearied his audience. He complained bitterly that, while any drunken sailor could get a hearing, he was howled down in a moment.
His friends, however, encouraged him to persist, assuring him that, however bad his manner might be, the intrinsic merit of his speech would gain for him recognition, should he attain a suitable delivery. Demosthenes was wise. He heeded the admonition of his friends. Tradition tells us he retired to a cave upon a lonely isle, and there set himself to learn the art of public speaking. Amid the roaring of the Wind and the dashing of the waves, he learned the art with which he later quelled the boisterous mob.
To overcome an imperfect articulation he learned to speak clearly and distinctly, yea, even with pebbles in bis mouth. He climbed steep hills, reading as he went, and did not disdain to practice grace before a mirror. Thus Demosthenes surmounted all obstacles.
You, my brother, should not disdain to strive with equal perseverance to overcome your faults.
Therefore, in emulation of the great Demosthenes, you will be conducted to a lonely spot, there practice grace before a mirror, and speak with pebbles in your mouth until you prove yourself proficient in the art.
The candidate is required to attempt to speak with his mouth full of pebbles or marbles.
My brother, your perseverance is truly laudable.
Twice you have attempted to speak in this assembly, but in vain. I wish to assure you that no discourtesy was meant by what has been done. Our only purpose was to impress upon you that constant effort and persistent endeavor are the requisites of success in public speaking.
Having proved yourself willing to make such sacrifice to attain the high and noble ends for which this fraternity has been founded, we receive you gladly and respectfully, and will be delighted to hear you upon the subject you have chosen.
Candidate talks uninterruptedly.
Up to this point candidates should be taken singly; from here on they may be taken collectively.
Pres.: My brother, oratory is one of the highest forms of art. It is the most effective vehicle of reason, and reason is the attribute that distinguishes man from brute. Formed of clay and compounded of dust, we are, in the scale of creation, little above the clod of the valley; but, endowed with the divine attribute of reason, we are little lower than the angels of heaven. Eloquence unlocks the storehouse of reason to the public mind and glorifies it in the public understanding.
From her golden lips falls the lifegiving manna that bas nourished the inspirations of the ages. Eloquence, therefore, is power to all who possess it, and in all times bas been cultivated as a noble and useful art.
In ancient Greece it was deemed of celestial origin, and its invention was ascribed to the winged god of Olympus. We read in the hook of Exodus that when Jehovah called Moses to lead the Children of Israel, he protested that he was not eloquent, and God made Aaron his spokesman, because Aaron could speak well.
To the cultivation of this art Tau Kappa Alpha is dedicated. Its purpose is to reward those whose forensic attainments merit honor; to inspire in its members a higher cultivation of the art, and to instill in the hearts of its members a purpose to use their gift for noble ends.
Are you willing to unite with such a fraternity?
Candidate answers.
Then, raise your right band and repeat after me the obligation:
"I, [name in full] solemnly promise to promote, to the best of my ability, the interests of Tau Kappa Alpha, and ever to uphold the honor and dignity of the Fraternity. I further promise that I will endeavor to maintain a high standard of excellence in public speaking, and will do all in my power to encourage and foster the art. Finally, I promise that I will never reveal the secrets of the Fraternity."
By virtue of the authority vested in me as President of Chapter of Tau Kappa Alpha, I declare you a member of Tau Kappa Alpha Fraternity.
Same brother may be called upon to deliver the following explanation.
The emblem of this Fraternity is the Tau Kappa Alpha Key, or scroll, made of gold, in the form of a watch key. Embossed on a rose gold center on the face of the scroll are the letters T K A, surrounded by a wreath of laurel and eleven stars. Embossed on the lower roll of the scroll are three Greek numerals.
In days of old, when Athenian culture was proverbial and the students of Greece excelled the world in the mastery of the arts and sciences, the scroll typified attainment in scholarship.
You are granted the scroll of Tau Kappa Alpha to signify that you have attained marked ability in oratory and debate and that you have achieved a literary excellence, which is the basis of these arts.
The letters T K A are the initial letters in the name of the Fraternity and indicate the motto and the purpose for which the Fraternity was founded.
As the wreath of laurel was to the Greek in ancient times a reward for accomplishment, so now is the wreath of laurel presented you as newly initiated members of Tau Kappa Alpha Fraternity in recognition of your achievement in public speaking. It will be our pleasure to see you wear the Tau Kappa Alpha Key with as much pride and honor as the ancient Greek felt when decorated with the laurel wreath.
The eleven stars on the Key commemorate the eleven founders of Tau Kappa Alpha. They are Hugh Th. Miller, Joseph J . Boyle, Walter. H. Linn, Lawrence DeVore, Carl Barnett, Roger W. Wallace, Oswald Ryan, George Claris Adams, Herhert R. Hyman, Chester A. Jewett, and Walter R. Miles, who, as representatives of Indiana universities and colleges, met in the chamber of the Lieutenant-Governor of Indiana on May 13, 1908, to complete the organization of the Tau Kappa Alpha Fraternity.
The three Greek numerals, alpha nu eta, on the lower roll of the scroll mean, in the Greek, in order, 1,000-900-8, signifying the year in which Tau Kappa Alpha was founded.
On the reverse side of the badge may be engraved the name of its owner, the Chapter to which bis membership attaches, and the college class to which he belongs. Each member of the Fraternity is required at the time of his initiation to purchase the Fraternity emblem, and to wear it at all times.
In wearing this badge, you will not only display the token which your ability has won for you, but you will also make known the fact that Tau Kappa Alpha delights to honor those who are worthy. As you go from excellence in college to broad and true success in the world, this golden key will become the ever better known symbol of excellence. Because of what you are and what you do, it will inspire other men to strive and labor for what you have attained, a place of honor among your fellow men.
(D) The Chapter President speaks:
My brother, you are now a member of a fraternity devoted to high and pure purposes. May you ever employ your abilities on the side of justice, liberty and piety.
To plead the cause of the oppressed, to secure the rights of the weak and bespeak justice for all mankind, are among the greatest glories and finest privileges of the speaker. Victories won in such causes deserve the everlasting laurels of heroic peace.
Eloquence is the child of liberty and justice. It can spring from no other stock. With these she is destined to live and flourish. Where speech is free, man is free. And eloquence can have few higher themes or support few nobler causes than the proposition that under God all men are peers.
Above all, let a heart tilled with love of man and God be the inspiration of your efforts, for, though you speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not love, you will become as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.
These are the high ideals held by the members of Tau Kappa Alpha. We hope that by making them your own you may gather the inspiration for a career of worth and usefulness.
Our Greek motto is Time kai axion (pronounced timmay ky axion). Its meaning is Honor for Merit. This explanation of the motto must be whispered to each candidate individually.
Tau Kappa Alpha honors herself in electing you to membership. May you ever merit the honor conferred on you this evening!