Beta Theta Pi
|Beta Theta Pi|
|Founded||August 8, 1839
Miami University, (Oxford, Ohio), United States
|Mission statement||Beta Theta Pi is dedicated to developing men of principle for a principled life.|
|Motto||Firmam Consensus Facit / Cooperation Makes Strength|
|Colors||pink and blue|
|Symbol||Dragon, Star, Diamond|
|Flower||Roses of the "June" or "Queen of the Prairie" variety|
|Publication||The Beta Theta Pi|
|Headquarters||5134 Bonham Road
Oxford, Ohio, United States
Beta Theta Pi (ΒΘΠ also "Beta") is a North American social fraternity that was founded in 1839 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The fraternity currently consists of 127 active chapters and colonies in the United States and Canada. Around 184,000 members have been initiated worldwide and there are currently around 9,000 undergraduate members. Beta Theta Pi is the oldest of the three fraternities that formed the Miami Triad along with Phi Delta Theta and Sigma Chi.
Students at Miami University at the time of Beta's founding had previously formed two rival literary societies: The Erodelphian and Union Literary Society. A student of the school, John Reily Knox began to gather members of both the Erodelphian and Union Literary Societies with the goal of creating a new fraternity. In a letter that he wrote four years after the founding of the Alpha chapter, Knox said that other fraternities being formed possessed "many objectionable features which rendered them liable to be used as engines of evil as well as instruments of good." Beta Theta Pi was founded on August the 8th of 1839 by eight students at Miami University. The group held its first meeting in an upper room of the campus building known as Old Main.
The eight founders were:
- John Reily Knox, 1839
- Samuel Taylor Marshall, 1840
- David Linton, 1839
- James George Smith, 1840
- Charles Henry Hardin, 1841
- John Holt Duncan, 1840
- Michael Clarkson Ryan, 1839
- Thomas Boston Gordon, 1840
The five core values espoused by Beta Theta Pi are cultivation of the intellect, responsible conduct, mutual assistance, integrity, and trust. These are the underpinnings for their mission statement to "develop men of principle for a principled life." In 1879 Beta Theta Pi became the first college fraternity to publish its constitution. The fraternity continues to guard certain secrets about membership, however. Similar to other fraternities, Beta Theta Pi's code emphasizes fellowship, cultural development, and cooperation across borders.
Men of Principle initiative
In August 1996, St. Lawrence University Chairman and Beta Theta Pi alumnus E.B. Wilson wrote a letter to the editor challenging the national fraternity to undertake a project to reverse the emerging Greek and Beta culture which he felt was not in line with their core values.
In response to Wilson and a number of institutional difficulties, the Men of Principle initiative was started during the 1998–99 academic year. Three chapters, Nebraska, Georgia and Pennsylvania were used as pilot chapters for the new program. After this first year of piloting, the Men of Principle initiative was officially introduced at the 160th General Convention in Oxford in 1999. Chapters that signed on to the Men of Principle initiative agreed to four non-negotiable points:
- A five-person trained and active advisory team
- Alcohol-free recruitment
- Elimination of the rogue "National Test" (also known as "The Shep Test")
- Commitment to a 100% "hazing-free" pledge program
Since the start of Men of Principle, Beta Theta Pi has seen improvement in the areas of academics and recruitment. Before Men of Principle, the Fraternity’s average chapter GPA was just above a 2.8. In 2008 the Fraternity’s GPA had risen to a 3.17. Average chapter size in 2008 was 67.1 men, compared to 48.9 in 1997. In 1998 there was an average of 1.95 advisers per chapter, while as of 2008 there was an average of 7.0 advisers work with each one of the chapters.
Since the implementation of the program, Beta has received backlash from their own chapters and from media outlets. Between the beginning of the program in 1998 and 2013, Beta Theta Pi's national headquarters closed 85 chapters for failing to comply to the Men of Principle initiative.
As part of the Men of Principle initiative, Beta runs several leadership programs for undergraduate members and alumni. In 1996, before the initiative, Beta sent four undergraduates to a leadership development program. Last year,[when?] over 1,600 Betas attended one of the fraternity's leadership programs.
The fraternity has sent members to the John and Nellie Wooden Institute for Men of Principle, The Peter F. Greiner Leadership College, the Hugh E. Stephenson Jr. Leadership Summit, the Miller Nichols Chapter Presidents Leadership Academy (CPLA), and the Keystone Regional Leadership Conference.
Hazing, alcohol, and sexual assault incidents
As part of a multi-year dispute over co-ed student housing issues, the Beta Theta Pi chapter at Wesleyan University had been refusing access to campus security personnel. In March 2010 Wesleyan issued a warning to students to avoid the chapter house. In October of that year a freshman was raped by a non-member non-student at a Beta Theta Pi Halloween party. The rapist was arrested, and both the fraternity and the university reached an out-of-court settlement with the victim in 2014. The dispute over campus housing was later resolved.
In February 2014 the fraternity's Alpha chapter at Miami University was closed in response to alcohol and hazing incidents.
Regarding closures, Tristan Sopp, a Beta Theta Pi staff member, said "the closures, for us, are seen as a sign of strength, because we hold our chapters accountable."
- About Beta
- Beta Theta Pi. "Home Page". Retrieved 3/13/14.
- Johnson, L. E. (2007). Sons of the Stars. Indianapolis, Indiana: Maury Boyd & Associates. p. 19.
- Romano, Sabrina (12/5/14). "After suspension at CMU, 'Men of Principle' found Pitt chapter". The Pitt News. Retrieved 3/14/14.
- "The Men of Principle Initiative... 10 Years Later". Beta Theta Pi Magazine. 2 136: 19-20, 22-25. Fall 2008.
- Daves, Vanessa (1/24/14). "Beta Theta Pi fraternity practices ‘men of principle’ philosophy". The Daily Nebraskan. Retrieved 3/14/14.
- Romano, Sabrina (12/5/13). "After suspension at CMU, 'Men of Principle' found Pitt chapter". The Pitt News. Retrieved 3/14/14.
- Flanagan, Caitlin (19 February 2014). "The Dark Powers of Fraternities". The Atlantic. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- Kingkade, Tyler (6/14/13). "Wesleyan 'Rape Factory' Fraternity's Lawyers Demand Assault Victim Be Named Publicly". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 3/14/14.
- Griffin, Alaine (10/5/12). "Federal Lawsuit Says Wesleyan Failed To Protect Woman From Assault At Fraternity House Called A 'Rape Factory'". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved 3/14/14.
- Lane, Jackson (6/14/13). "Beta Theta Pi suspended over sexually explicit recordings". The Tartan. Retrieved 3/14/14.
- Robinette, Eric (2/28/14). "Fraternity closes at Miami following hazing, alcohol incidents". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 3/14/14.
- Brown, James T., ed., Catalogue of Beta Theta Pi, New York: 1917.