Beta Theta Pi

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Beta Theta Pi
Beta Theta Pi Coat of Arms.png
FoundedAugust 8, 1839;180 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
Chapters139 active
Members11,000 [1] collegiate
210,000 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 116 active chapters and 23 colonies [2] in the United States and Canada. More than 210,000 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.



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 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. 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]

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 76 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.

Some notable controversies

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 endangering pledges and providing alcohol to minors. [11]

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. [12] [13] [14]

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] [15] [16] [17]

In February 2014, the fraternity's Alpha chapter at Miami University was closed in response to alcohol and hazing incidents. [18] 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. [19] The chapter was disbanded by the fraternity a month later, following an investigation. [20]

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. [21] [22]

In 2016, the University of Oregon chapter was disbanded due to hazing and other "high-risk" activities. [23]

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. [24] Eighteen members of the fraternity were arrested and charged for his wrongful death. [25] The former chapter faces more than 147 charges, including involuntary manslaughter. [26] [27]

In 2017, the College of Charleston chapter was kicked off campus until 2021 for multiple instances of unregistered parties with alcohol (some purchased with chapter funds), hazing pledges which included personal servitude and calisthenics, and marijuana use. [28]

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." [29]

In 2018, the University of Central Florida chapter was shut down due to repeated hazing and alcohol violations over 10 years. [30]

In 2019, the Auburn University chapter was shut down after a long history of hazing violations which included alcohol and physical abuse and servitude. The chapter defied multiple intervention attempts before its closure on campus. [31]

See also

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