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||Delicate shades oflight pink and light 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 110 active chapters and 27 colonies in the United States and Canada. More than 300,000 members have been initiated worldwide and there are currently around 10,000 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 at 9:00 pm on Thursday, August 8, 1839, by eight students at Miami University. The group held its first regular meeting in the Hall of the Union Literary Society, an upper room of the campus building known as Old Main.
The eight founders, in the order their names appear in the minutes, 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 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. Similar to other fraternities, Beta Theta Pi's code emphasizes international fellowship, cultural development and cooperation .
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 of The Beta Theta Pi magazine 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 2015, the fraternity's GPA had risen to a 3.19. The average chapter size in 2016 was 77.2 men, compared to 48.9 in 1997. In 1997, there was an average of 2 advisors per chapter, while as of 2016 there was an average of 8.0 advisors working with each one of the chapters.
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.
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As part of the Men of Principle initiative, Beta runs several leadership programs for undergraduate members and alumni. In the 1996-97 academic year, before the initiative, Beta sent seven undergraduates to a leadership development program — equivalent to 0.1 percent of the total undergraduate membership. In the 2015-16 academic year, more than 1,800 Betas attended one of the fraternity's programs — or 18.2 percent of the total undergraduate membership. All told, in the years since the introduction of Men of Principle, more than 19,600 men have graduated from one of the fraternity's leadership programs.
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.
In October 2014, the University of Washington chapter was suspended by the university following hazing allegations. The chapter was disbanded by the fraternity a month later, following an investigation.
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."
- List of Beta Theta Pi chapters
- List of Beta Theta Pi members
- List of social fraternities and sororities
- About Beta
- Beta Theta Pi. "Home Page". Retrieved 2014-10-13.
- Johnson, L. E. (2007). Sons of the Stars. Indianapolis, Indiana: Maury Boyd & Associates. p. 19.
- Romano, Sabrina (2013-12-05). "After suspension at CMU, 'Men of Principle' found Pitt chapter". The Pitt News. Retrieved 2014-03-14.
- "The Men of Principle Initiative... 10 Years Later". Beta Theta Pi Magazine. 2. 136: 19–20, 22–25. 2008.
- Daves, Vanessa (2014-01-24). "Beta Theta Pi fraternity practices 'men of principle' philosophy". The Daily Nebraskan. Retrieved 2014-03-14.
- Flanagan, Caitlin (19 February 2014). "The Dark Powers of Fraternities". The Atlantic. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- Kingkade, Tyler (2013-06-14). "Wesleyan 'Rape Factory' Fraternity's Lawyers Demand Assault Victim Be Named Publicly". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-03-14.
- Griffin, Alaine (2012-10-05). "Federal Lawsuit Says Wesleyan Failed To Protect Woman From Assault At Fraternity House Called A 'Rape Factory'". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2014-03-14.
- Lane, Jackson (2013-06-14). "Beta Theta Pi suspended over sexually explicit recordings". The Tartan. Retrieved 2014-03-14.
- Robinette, Eric (2014-02-28). "Fraternity closes at Miami following hazing, alcohol incidents". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 2014-03-14.
- "UW frat suspended over hazing allegations". King5.com. NBC. October 7, 2014. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
- Long, Katherine (21 November 2014). "UW fraternity to disband over hazing incident". The Seattle Times. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
- Connolly, Caroline. "Fraternity at U of U recognized for efforts to stop sexual assaults on campus". Fox13 (Salt Lake City). Retrieved 2015-01-23.
- Brown, James T., ed., Catalogue of Beta Theta Pi, New York: 1917.