The Newts were founded in 1975 based on a five-fold purpose of excellence in athletics, academics, leadership, community service and social activities. In order to assure that members uphold the values expressed in the group’s purpose, the Newts have standards for each of the five folds which encourage individual excellence and track accomplishments. Members who meet the standards for at least three folds each semester stay in good standing, and those who fail to do so are given assistance and encouragement by the other members in order to help them meet the standards. Each of the folds is overseen by an officer whose job is to arrange for activities that relate to the fold. Through their five-fold purpose, the Newts foster individual accomplishment and a sense of brotherhood within the group.
Traditionally, the Newts have always completed a large number of service hours and particularly enjoy working on the last remaining Octagon Barn in Iowa, fifteen minutes west of Iowa City. In 2010, the Newts adopted a two-mile stretch of Highway 1.