The Coat of Arms was always a great learning experience when discussed as an undergrad. Because of the complexity of our COA, much of the symbolism becomes muddied and misconstrued. Many of the elements which were adopted from Theta Kappa Nu, especially, have these problems.
The Lion, rampant*, which is displayed on the escutcheon of our Coat of Arms is often the source of much talk. The Lion on Theta Kappa Nu’s COA was red. Jack Mason thought a red lion looked like a “ketchup spill” in the middle, so the Lion’s color was officially changed to black (another of TKN’s colors). However, it often appears in white, silver or gold, depending on the artist or printing company.
The white tudor rose is often explained as a symbol of “Strength protecting innocence.” The detail of the rose has significance, as well. The tudor rose has six petals and five sepals representing the eleven founding chapters of Theta Kappa Nu. The rose has four stamens representing TKN’s four founding national officers.
To the best of my knowledge and research, there is no specific meaning to the branches and number of leaves/thorns depicted on the rose. Often, meanings are attributed to this detail, which is without merit and fact.
* Rampant: a quadraped standing on left hind foot, other feet raised to fight; this is the most frequent position for lions and the like, typically omitted in early blazon).
If you are interested in learning more, visit Wikipedia’s article on heraldry.