Beta Theta Pi

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Beta Theta Pi
Beta Theta Pi Coat of Arms.png
FoundedAugust 8, 1839;179 years ago (1839-08-08)
Miami University (Oxford, Ohio), United States
Type Social
Mission statementBeta Theta Pi is dedicated to developing men of principle for a principled life.
ColorsDelicate Shades of Pink and Blue
Symbol Dragon, Star, Diamond
Flag Beta Theta Pi flag.png
FlowerRoses of the "June" or "Queen of the Prairie" variety
PublicationThe Beta Theta Pi
Chapters142 active
Members11,000 [1] collegiate
300,000 lifetime
Headquarters5134 Bonham Road
Oxford , Ohio
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, it currently consists of 117 active chapters and 25 colonies [2] in the United States and Canada. More than 300,000 members have been initiated worldwide and there are currently around 11,000 undergraduate members. [3] Beta Theta Pi is the oldest of the three fraternities that formed the Miami Triad, along with Phi Delta Theta and Sigma Chi.

Miami University Public research university located in Oxford, Ohio, United States

Miami University is a public research university in Oxford, Ohio. The university was founded in 1809, although classes were not held until 1824. Miami University is the second-oldest university in Ohio and the 10th oldest public university in the United States. The school's system comprises the main campus in Oxford, as well as regional campuses in nearby Hamilton, Middletown, and West Chester. Miami also maintains an international boarding campus, the Dolibois European Center in Differdange, Luxembourg. The Carnegie Foundation classifies Miami University as a research university with a high research activity. It is affiliated with the University System of Ohio.

Oxford, Ohio City in Ohio, United States

Oxford is a city in Butler County, Ohio, United States, in the southwestern portion of the state approximately 40 miles (64 km) northwest of Cincinnati. It lies in Oxford Township, originally called the College Township. The population was 21,371 at the 2010 census. This college town was founded as a home for Miami University. In 2014, Oxford was rated by Forbes as the "Best College Town" in the United States, based on a high percentage of students per capita and part-time jobs, and a low occurrence of brain-drain.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.



Harrison Hall (then known as Old Main) at Miami University, founding site of Beta Theta Pi, pictured about 1896 Harrison hall 2.png
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."

The Founding of Beta Theta Pi

At nine o’clock on the evening of the eighth day of the eighth month of the year 1839, eight earnest young men, all students at Miami University, held the first meeting of Beta Theta Pi in the Hall of the Union Literary Society, an upper room in the old college building (known as “Old Main”). The eight founders in the order in which 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

"of ever honored memory"


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. 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 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]

St. Lawrence University liberal arts college in Canton, Saint Lawrence County, New York, USA

St. Lawrence University is a private liberal arts college in the village of Canton in St. Lawrence County, New York. It has roughly 2400 undergraduate and 100 graduate students, about equally split between male and female.

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] Chapters that signed on to the Men of Principle initiative agreed to four non-negotiable points:

  1. A five-person trained and active advisory team
  2. Alcohol-free recruitment
  3. Elimination of the rogue "National Test" (also known as "The Shep Test")
  4. Commitment to a 100% "hazing-free" pledge program [5]

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 2018, the fraternity's GPA had risen to a 3.23. The average chapter size in 2019 was 74 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]

Leadership programs

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, nearly 2,000 Betas attended one of the fraternity's programs — or 20 percent of the total undergraduate membership. All told, in the years since the introduction of Men of Principle, more than 25,200 men [7] have graduated from one of the fraternity's leadership programs.


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. [8] [9] [10]

In 2012, the Purdue University chapter was suspended for harming pledges and providing alcohol to minors. [11]

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] [12] [13] [14]

In February 2014, the fraternity's Alpha chapter at Miami University was closed in response to alcohol and hazing incidents. [15] The Alpha Chapter was refounded in 2017, and in the year 2018, the Chapter celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the fraternity house, a $5 million renovation that brought the house into the 21st Century.

In October 2014, the University of Washington chapter was suspended by the university following hazing allegations. [16] The chapter was disbanded by the fraternity a month later, following an investigation. [17]

In 2016, the University of Oregon chapter was disbanded due to hazing and other "high-risk" activities. [18]

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. [19] Eighteen members of the fraternity were arrested and charged for his wrongful death. [20] The former chapter faces more than 147 charges, including involuntary manslaughter. [21] [22]

In 2018, the University of Illinois chapter was disbanded due to "issues related to hazing, unsafe social functions, alcohol-based recruitment, and a high level of distrust between the chapter and the advisors and General Fraternity." [23]

See also

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