It all started on Wednesday, January 12, 1848. There had been a large snowfall in Oxford. Some students were on their way back from a prayer meeting in town. They rolled perhaps a dozen huge snowballs and filled in the first floor of Old Main. They had gotten a day’s play for a long night’s work. The next day the janitor worked for an hour to clear a passage. Though at least one of the faculty thought it was amusing, President Erasmus MacMaster—who was already outspoken against fraternities and secret societies—was in a towering rage: he was going to find the guilty and expel them, he was determined to make Miami “a decent college.”
The next night, a larger crowd of students made a much more impenetrable barrier, and wreaked more havoc, nailing the doors shut, filling the hall with wood and snow, removing the college bell and dropping it in the cistern. There were no classes that Friday, and none the next week, either, while the trials began. The students would admit their own guilt, but would not implicate others. Finally a list of 46 was arrived at, who would neither admit their guilt nor make any promise for the future. They were dismissed from Miami. Of the 20 seniors, only 9 were left, and only 5 of the 12 juniors remained. This was not strictly speaking a Greek affair, but a campus-wide stunt. Yet it hurt the fraternities severely as Alpha Delta Phi and Beta Theta Pi had lost members. No Betas were at Miami after all was said and done; three Betas were dismissed and two more left by the end of the spring.
However, some good did come as a result, especially with the life of the Fraternity so strong at other schools. The three students dismissed—Edmund Harris Munger, Robert Vance Moore and James Warnock—soon after founded Beta Theta Pi at Centre College in Kentucky, which has prevailed as the Fraternity’s oldest active chapter in Kentucky today, and celebrates its own 175th anniversary later this year.
In 1963, one hundred and fifteen years later, this event affecting the fraternities was humorously re-enacted by Miami students after another heavy snowfall.
— Adapted from The Faithful Home of the Three Stars.