Secrets of the Brotherhood
Get to know your local secret society.
This article originally appeared in The Tiger on February 8, 2008 | PRINT

What is the one campus organization that boasts President Jim Barker, three Board of Trustee Members and many other high-ranking officials and students in its membership? Tiger Brotherhood (TB), an honorary organization of which many students are not aware, is considered Clemson's version of Yale's Skull and Bones-a professional, albeit very covert, networking, service and social fraternity of people connected to Clemson.

The organization was founded in 1924 after a mass cadet walk-out in response to substandard campus dining and the expulsion of a popular football captain. Professor John L. Marshall rallied two hundred of the displeased cadets to join together in an organization as a means of camaraderie, but the organization deteriorated quickly. In 1928, it reformed as an invitation-only club and thereafter consistently announced new inductees each semester. However, sometime in 1993, the Brotherhood disappeared from Taps, the school yearbook, and became an intensely secret organization.

This week, Feb. 4-8, marked the Brotherhood's recruitment period in which they "tap" potential new members after a period of surveillance. New members are chosen based on affiliation with current members, "love of Clemson," leadership qualities and freedom from certain vices. Last semester's cub class (current members) included Hamp Bruner (Honorary), Tim Fowler (Honorary), Jim Burnham, Casey Graham, Kevin Hackett, Paul Halphen, Garland Jaeger and Jonathan Trammell. Women are allowed in the organizaion and approximately one joins each recruitment period. Tiger Brotherhood has fourteen active members, but as a fraternal organization it has countless alumni and community members who attend meetings.

Most members are high-profile in one way or another, but particularly well-known people include University President Jim Barker; three Board of Trustees members (Chairman Bill Hendrix, Joe Swann and Tom Lynch); Marvin Carmichael, assistant to president/chief of staff; Brian O'Rourke, director of development and alumni affairs; Undergraduate Student Body President Josh Bell; Harrison Trammell, CUF president/CEO of Advancement Finance and Administration; Jerry Reel Jr., University historian; John Seketa, athletics coach and event promoter; Katie Spearman, head of Tigerama (heads of Tigerama traditionally are invited); Michael Reidenbach, law enforcement officer; Matthew Watkins, alumni development manager; Stephen Robbins, associate vice president of student affairs; Wil Brasington, academic program director, alumni relations; Verna Howell, associate vice president and executive director of housing; Van Hilderbrand, athletics coach and administrator; and Kirby Player, director of college relations, CAFLS Dean's Office. Other members can be found on the Clemson Wiki Web site.

Some of TB's more recent projects include reforming judicial services, evaluating how parking services treats visitors illuminating Tillman Hall, the Woodland cemetery clean-up and the Days and Traditions Calendar.

The Days and Traditions calendar project was started by Brian Ammons, a member of Tiger Brotherhood. Student Government funded the bulk of the project, signing a 2-year contract for the initial funding of $10,000 to go towards the production of 8,000 calendars to give away to incoming freshman, transfer students and faculty, while the remaining funds would go toward the creation of other calendars to sell. The money given by Student Government came from Student government money raised through loft sales. The Alumni Association invested $2,000. Ammons stated that at the money from calendar sales will go towards a student memorial for the students we have lost.

As of Jan. 29, the calendar project had raised more than $20,000 in calendar sales. The money is currently being held in a university account without stipulations on the use. The contract between Tiger Brotherhood and Student Government stated that "Following a two-year period after the signing of the contract (two calendars created and two allocations made to Clemson funds), any remaining funds will be accessible to Tiger Brotherhood."

Meanwhile, Ammons assured, "After the sales are complete and we have received interdepartmental orders, the money will go to an account where it can only be used for future calendars and the student memorial."

Is the calendar project comparable to other student government funded ventures?

Former Tiger Brotherhood president and current student body president Josh Bell stated, "Student government puts its money toward many capital improvement projects as well as toward philanthropies that other organizations might be heading up on campus.

Our focus is to make the campus and community better anytime that we choose to fund a project. Those projects change from year to year based on the priorities of our leaders."

However, as many sources have confirmed, Tiger Brotherhood is known more for the intensity of its rituals and secrecy rather than the service projects. As TB President Amanda MacDonald says, "Tiger Brotherhood's mission is to serve Clemson, not to be recognized or applauded by it."

In 2006, the Brotherhood became enmeshed in controversy over its violation of the University's hazing policy. Tiger Brotherhood was found in violation of four student regulations including harm to person, hazing, student organization conduct and violation of federal, state or local law. After a semester of probation, TB regained its full organization status.

Today, the ritual induction is as follows: After being placed on a watch list, the new Cub class is voted on by Tiger Brotherhood members. Cubs are tapped, or invited to a preliminary meeting at the home of a prominent community member without knowing exactly what they are attending. They then socialize extensively with TB members and receive Clemson history lessons from professors or members.

The history lesson in the past has been given by Jerry Reel, Clemson Historian, but due to internal controversy, last semester the lesson was given by a group of Tiger Brotherhood members.

The Cubs must make a key that they defend "physically and spiritually," according to a TB guide for Marshalls, an overseer position created after the hazing violation.

Though the Brotherhood complies with University regulations they do yell at and verbally confront the Cubs with great intensity. during the carefully choreographed and staged final obstacle, known only as "The Jungle," which tests each Cubs' "character" in the face of adversity.

This initiation process "has been reviewed and approved by a committee formed by VP Gail DiSabatino and chaired by Dean of Students Joy Smith," according to MacDonald.

Other traditions include a walk through the Quad, a cemetery visit, the sounding of the bells and a surprise unveiling on the 50-yard line. Meetings take place in The Tiger Brotherhood room, located next to Harcombe and the Blue Key room. Alternate locations include the Masonic Lodge, the President's house and Lehotsky auditorium.

While researching the organization, The Tiger interviewed many people who chose to remain anonymous because of fear of social or political repercussions. Some members of the Brotherhood have refused to acknowledge their membership, although members replied to a 2003 editorial in The Tiger with comments such as, "We keep no secret of who we are and what we do."

Tiger Brotherhood surrounds itself with rumor and secrecy, although its members are some of the most public on campus. "All for the love of Clemson."

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