Troy University’s Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) chapter is the top in the nation.
The Kappa Beta chapter of ATO was founded in 2005 and is the youngest fraternity to ever be nationally recognized as “Top Chapter.”
According to ato.org, “the Top Chapter Award, which was established in 1998, recognizes the best ATO Chapter in the nation.”
Blake Swicord, a senior biomedical sciences major from Eclectic and president of ATO at Troy, said that in addition to their current achievements, their success is attributed to the culture of the organization.
“What I think truly set us up for success nationally is the culture of our chapter,” Swicord said. “ATO has become a group of exceptional individuals who come together to achieve great things.
“Not only do we work hard and compete greatly, but we also have heart and love doing everything we do.”
According to Swicord, the fraternity currently has 94 brothers and 28 pledge brothers.
Kappa Beta was given the honor at the 82nd Biennial Congress in Charlotte, North Carolina on Aug. 6.
Gus McKenzie, a sophomore English secondary education major from Monroeville, serves as the Interfraternity Council representative for ATO, and he spoke about his experience at the conference.
“It was a lot of fun,” McKenzie said. “You get to meet all the guys from chapters around the nation and get connected with brothers nationally that you normally wouldn’t get to.”
Alex Castanza, a junior biology secondary education major from Montgomery and a member of ATO, said he attended the conference because of the possibility of winning the award.
“I went to the conference because I knew that we had a chance,” Castanza said. “We all saw it as a possibility, but I don’t think we realized we would actually do it so quickly.”
“We had no clue that we were going to win top chapter,” Swicord said. “Last year we were in the national top five, but we had no indication from the national fraternity that this year would be different. When they announced us as the winner, it was a huge moment and a great surprise,” he said.
Castanza and McKenzie said that the award serves as a stimulus for the members of the fraternity to continue to do better.
“For me personally, it’s a reminder to be the best I can in everything I do,” Castanza said. “As a chapter, we are trying to jump start and allow us to stay focused throughout the year.”
McKenzie said this was a catalyst for the fraternity
“This is no stopping point for us,” McKenzie said.
Furthermore, the chapter was presented with the True Merit Award, continuing its winning streak for the ninth year in a row.
“For True Merit, if you meet the qualifications, you get it,” McKenzie said. “Our chapter has won it all but one of our years.”
According to ato.org, the True Merit Award is awarded to “chapters who achieve a level of chapter operation that is worthy of the recognition.”
The creed of Alpha Tau Omega, written by founder Otis Allan Glazebrook in 1880, says the goal of the fraternity is “to teach that true men the world over should stand together and contend for supremacy of good over evil; to teach, not politics, but morals; to foster, not partisanship, but the recognition of true merit wherever found.”
Recipients of the True Merit award are eligible for Top Chapter Award. A fraternity must be considered and qualify for True Merit before being advancing to Top Chapter eligibility.
Applicants must fulfill certain requirements established by the national fraternity to receive the True Merit Award: “at least meet their school’s All Male Average or achieve a 3.0 GPA,…be financially current with payment to the National Fraternity,” respond well to risk management violations, “attend ATO National Programs as prescribed” and complete GreekLifeEdu in a given deadline.
“GreekLifeEdu is an online program that addresses the critical issues of alcohol awareness, sexual assault and hazing for incoming fraternity and sorority members,” according to https://everfi.com/higher-education-old/greeklifeedu/.
Troy’s ATO organized a group of about five to seven members who were responsible for writing and completing the annual report to be submitted for review by a national committee.
For more information about the application, visit www.ato.org/files/2-15- 16-2015-2016AnnualReport.pdf.