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Beta Theta Pi

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Beta Theta Pi
FoundedAugust 8, 1839; 184 years ago (1839-08-08)
Miami University (Oxford, Ohio), United States
Mission statementBeta Theta Pi is dedicated to developing men of principle for a principled life.
ColorsDelicate shades of     pink and     blue
SymbolDragon, Star, Diamond
FlowerRoses of the "June" or "Queen of the Prairie" variety
PublicationThe Beta Theta Pi
Chapters138 active
Members8,500+ collegiate
219,000+ lifetime
Headquarters5134 Bonham Road
Oxford, OH 45056
United States

Beta Theta Pi (ΒΘΠ), commonly known as Beta, is a North American social fraternity that was founded in 1839 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. One of North America's oldest fraternities, as of August 2023 it consists of 142 active chapters and colonies in the United States and Canada.[1] More than 219,000 members have been initiated worldwide and there are currently around 8,500 undergraduate members.[2] Beta Theta Pi is the oldest of the three fraternities that formed the Miami Triad, along with Phi Delta Theta and Sigma Chi.


Old Main
Harrison Hall (then known as Old Main) at Miami University, founding site of Beta Theta Pi, pictured about 1896

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."[3]

The fraternity was formally founded on August 8, 1839, by eight male students of Miami University.


The five core values espoused by Beta Theta Pi are cultivation of intellect, responsible conduct, mutual assistance, integrity, and trust.[4] 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.

Men of Principle initiative[edit]

In August 1996, St. Lawrence University Chairman and Beta Theta Pi alumnus E.B. Wilson wrote a letter to the editor of The Beta Theta Pi magazine challenging the general fraternity to undertake a project to reverse the emerging Greek and Beta culture, which he felt was not in line with their core values.[5]

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.[6] After this first year of piloting, the Men of Principle initiative was officially introduced at the 160th General Convention in Oxford, in 1999.[4][5]

According to the fraternity, before Men of Principle, the fraternity's average chapter GPA was just above a 2.8. In 2019, the fraternity's GPA rose to 3.251 – an all-time high. The average chapter size in 2019 was 72 men, compared to 48.9 in 1997. In 1997, there was an average of two advisors per chapter, while as of 2019 there was an average of seven advisors working with each one of the chapters.[5] Beta received some backlash for the initiative. Between the beginning of the program in 1998 and 2013, its international headquarters closed 85 chapters for failing to comply with the Men of Principle initiative.[4]

As part of the Men of Principle initiative, Beta runs several leadership programs for undergraduate members and alumni. As of 2019, approximately 25,000 members graduated from one of the fraternity's leadership programs.[7]


Coat of arms[edit]

The coat of arms of Beta Theta Pi includes the Beta dragon, which, according to the symbolism guide, differs from other artistic or historical concepts of dragons as it is not intended to represent evil or a threat. The fraternity explains it represents courage and respect, depicted as "...calm and caring, rather than [as] many other dragons that are made to seem threatening or aggressive." In the coat of arms, the Beta dragon is placed on top of a shield; the shield is emblazoned with the three stars of Beta Theta Pi and other stylizations from heraldry . Under that shield is a golden banner upon which is one of Beta's mottos "__kai__".[8][9]


The flag of Beta Theta Pi similarly displays several symbols of the fraternity. The flag includes three horizontal stripes that are blue, then white and then blue. The flag shows three five-pointed stars that are made to form an equilateral triangle. The Beta dragon is set within this equilateral triangle.[8]


Beta has designated as its official flower the Beta rose. The fraternity explains that "this light pink rose was officially made the flower of Beta Theta Pi in 1889 at the fraternity's semi-centennial convention. The Beta rose was chosen to be the flower by a Beta sweetheart named Leila McKee who had many relations to Beta throughout her life. Her father was a Beta, her brother was a Beta, and she eventually became a Beta sweetheart herself. This rose was accepted by the fraternity because of the purity and beauty that it held."[8]


The badge of Beta Theta Pi was designed to be worn by members of the association under their original constitution that was produced and published in 1839. Over time, the badge's look has been changed multiple times, but the badge that is currently used today was made by Major George M. Chandler, Michigan 1898. The badge is an 8-sided shield of black and gold and it contains the three stars of the fraternity on the top of the shield and under that is a diamond which is surrounded by a golden laurel. Under the diamond is the capital Greek letters for Beta Theta Pi and below those letters are the Greek characters that represent 1839, the year of the fraternity's founding. Members of Beta wear this badge over their heart to be "in a manner befitting the honor and dignity to which it is entitled".

The pledge pin is a pin that is worn by pledges of the fraternity. The pledge pin looks similar to the Beta badge, it is an 8-sided shield of white and gold that has 3 golden 5-pointed stars running diagonally across it.[8]


The colors that represent Beta Theta Pi are delicate shades of pink and blue. These colors were chosen in the late 1800's when many fraternities were deciding what colors they wanted to represent them. Delicate shades of pink and blue were chosen for Beta because of their sensitivity to stains. This was important to the fraternity because being sensitive to stains represented the purity of these colors. Many times people have tried to change the official Beta colors to darker shades of blue and red but these ideas have always been turned down quickly.[8]

Founder John Reily Knox in 1886


Beta Theta Pi uses the poem The Bridge Builder as a symbol of its Alumni Giving Program.[10]

Notable members[edit]

Local chapter or member misconduct[edit]

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.[16][17][18]

In 2012, a lawsuit by a female student at Wesleyan University accused the university's chapter of sexual assault and called its fraternity house a "rape factory" due to the predatory practices present and constant sexual assaults of young women visiting the house.[19][20][21]

In March 2013, the Carnegie Mellon University chapter was suspended following a police investigation of sexually explicit videos and photographs of female students circulating among members.[4][22][23][24]

In February 2014, the fraternity's Alpha chapter at Miami University was closed in response to alcohol and hazing incidents.[25] The Alpha chapter was reestablished in 2017, and in the year 2018, the chapter celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the fraternity house, a $5 million renovation.[citation needed] In October 2014, the University of Washington chapter was suspended by the university following hazing allegations.[26] The chapter was disbanded by the fraternity a month later, following an investigation.[27] In December 2014, the University of California - Santa Barbara chapter was shut down after years of violations and suspensions. Two pledges were sent to the hospital due to hazing which prompted the fraternity's national office to finally close the chapter.[28][29]

In 2016, the University of Oregon chapter was disbanded due to hazing and other "high-risk" activities.[30]

In 2017, the Pennsylvania State University chapter was permanently disbanded due to the death of a pledge, Tim Piazza, related to hazing and alcohol abuse.[31] Piazza was forced to drink excessive amounts of alcohol and fell down the stairs into the basement, where he eventually fell into a coma and died. The members of the fraternity had purposefully destroyed video footage of what happened in the basement.[32] Eighteen members of the fraternity were arrested and charged for his wrongful death.[33] The former chapter faces more than 147 charges, including involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence.[34][35]

In 2018, the Washington and Lee University chapter was suspended for four years for multiple hazing violations. Members living in the fraternity house were forced to find housing elsewhere.[36]

In 2019, the Auburn University chapter was disbanded once it was reported to the university that there was a culture of physically abusing pledges and forcing them into servitude for initiated members.[37]

In 2020, the University of Arizona chapter was suspended for hazing and improper alcohol use violations.[38]

In 2022, the North Carolina State University chapter was pressured by the university to disband due to multiple hazing and alcohol violations.[39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Beta Theta Pi - Overall Listing". my.beta.org. Retrieved June 20, 2022.
  2. ^ Beta Theta Pi. "Chapter Dashboard". Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  3. ^ "The Development of the Fraternity System". The Scroll. 14 (1–5): 5. 1889.
  4. ^ a b c d Romano, Sabrina (December 5, 2013). "After suspension at CMU, 'Men of Principle' found Pitt chapter". The Pitt News. Archived from the original on March 14, 2014. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c "The State of the Fraternity". The Beta Theta Pi Magazine. 2020.
  6. ^ Daves, Vanessa (January 2, 2014). "Beta Theta Pi fraternity practices 'men of principle' philosophy". The Daily Nebraskan. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  7. ^ "The Beta Theta Pi – Summer 2019". Issuu. June 13, 2019. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Beta Theta Pi Fraternity | Archives & Heraldry". Beta Theta Pi Fraternity. Retrieved August 1, 2023.
  9. ^ Cobb, Martin (2014). Beta Brotherhood (1st ed.). 5134 Bonham Road, Oxford, Ohio 45056: The Beta Theta Pi. pp. 64–65.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  10. ^ Bridge Builder Society, accessed 16 May 2024.
  11. ^ a b c d "Beta Theta Pi Fraternity | Men of Principle". Beta Theta Pi Fraternity. Retrieved August 1, 2023.
  12. ^ "Mike Schmidt". www.nndb.com. Retrieved August 1, 2023.
  13. ^ Barnes, Mike (June 10, 2017). "Adam West, Straight-Faced Star of TV's 'Batman,' Dies at 88". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 1, 2023.
  14. ^ "Bill Nelson | Biography, NASA, & Facts | Britannica". www.britannica.com. July 11, 2023. Retrieved August 2, 2023.
  15. ^ "Bruce Nordstrom". Forbes. Retrieved August 2, 2023.
  16. ^ Flanagan, Caitlin (February 19, 2014). "The Dark Powers of Fraternities". The Atlantic. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  17. ^ Kingkade, Tyler (June 1, 2013). "Wesleyan 'Rape Factory' Fraternity's Lawyers Demand Assault Victim Be Named Publicly". HuffPost. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  18. ^ Griffin, Alaine (October 5, 2012). "Federal Lawsuit Says Wesleyan Failed To Protect Woman From Assault At Fraternity House Called A 'Rape Factory'". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  19. ^ Reinsberg, Hillary (October 9, 2012). "The Strange History Of Wesleyan University's "Rape Factory" Fraternity". BuzzFeed.
  20. ^ Kingkade, Tyler (September 11, 2013). "'Rape Factory' Lawsuit Reaches Settlement". HuffPost.
  21. ^ GRIFFIN, ALAINE (October 5, 2012). "Federal Lawsuit Says Wesleyan Failed To Protect Woman From Assault At Fraternity House Called A 'Rape Factory'". courant.com.
  22. ^ Lane, Jackson (June 1, 2013). "Beta Theta Pi suspended over sexually explicit recordings". The Tartan. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  23. ^ Sostek, Anya (March 30, 2013). "CMU fraternity suspended over sexual pictures, videos". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  24. ^ McEvoy, Blaine (August 28, 2013). "The Most Out-of-Control Fraternities in America". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  25. ^ Robinette, Eric (February 2, 2014). "Fraternity closes at Miami following hazing, alcohol incidents". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  26. ^ "UW frat suspended over hazing allegations". King5.com. NBC. October 7, 2014. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
  27. ^ Long, Katherine (November 21, 2014). "UW fraternity to disband over hazing incident". The Seattle Times. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
  28. ^ "UCSB Frat Shut Down Amid Drinking and Hazing Complaints". December 6, 2014.
  29. ^ "Chapter Status Report". osl.sa.ucsb.edu.
  30. ^ "Beta Theta Pi disbanded for reports of hazing – Emerald Media". March 13, 2016. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  31. ^ "Penn State Revokes Beta Theta Pi's Recognition, Imposes Strict Greek Social Regulations". February 17, 2017. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  32. ^ Penn State Hazing Case: Surveillance Video Was Erased, Detective Suggests | TODAY, retrieved August 2, 2023
  33. ^ "18 Students Charged in Penn State Fraternity Death". May 5, 2017. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  34. ^ "Penn State Frat Hit With More Than 850 Charges After Student Dies in 'Gauntlet' Hazing Incident". Complex CA. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  35. ^ "[Document] Full Grand Jury Presentment In Beta Theta Pi Case". Onward State. May 5, 2017. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  36. ^ https://ringtumphi.net/3596/news/beta-theta-pi-suspended-until-2022-for-hazing-violations/
  37. ^ "Beta Theta Pi Fraternity closes AU chapter after hazing violations including alcohol, physical abuse". December 18, 2019.
  38. ^ https://wildcat.arizona.edu/123737/news/ua-chapter-of-beta-theta-pi-suspended/
  39. ^ "Beta Theta Pi Fraternity Closes Chapter at NC State University". February 11, 2022.


  • Brown, James T., ed., Catalogue of Beta Theta Pi, New York: 1917.

External links[edit]