Beta Theta Pi

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Beta Theta Pi
Founded August 8, 1839; 180 years ago (1839-08-08)
Miami University, (Oxford, Ohio), United States
Type Social
Scope International
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 of      pink and      blue
Symbol Dragon, Star, Diamond
Flower Roses of the "June" or "Queen of the Prairie" variety
Publication The Beta Theta Pi
Chapters 131
Members 9,500[1] collegiate
300,000 lifetime
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 113 active chapters and 21 colonies in the United States and Canada. More than 300,000 members have been initiated worldwide and there are currently around 9,000 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." 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.[3]

The eight founders, in the order their names appear in the minutes, were:


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 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.[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 2008 the Fraternity's GPA had risen to a 3.17. The 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 working with each one of the chapters.[5]

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.[4]

Leadership programs

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.

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.[7][8][9]

In March 2013 the Carnegie Mellon University chapter was suspended following a police investigation of sexually explicit videos and photographs circulating among members.[4][10]

In February 2014 the fraternity's Alpha chapter at Miami University was closed in response to alcohol and hazing incidents.[11]

In October 2014, the University of Washington chapter was suspended by the university following hazing allegations.[12] The chapter was disbanded by the fraternity a month later, following an investigation.[13]

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."[4]

In 2014, the University of Utah chapter received a $3,300 grant from a charity started by Robin McGraw for its work to stop sexual assault.[14]

See also


  1. About Beta
  2. Beta Theta Pi. "Home Page". Retrieved 2014-10-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Johnson, L. E. (2007). Sons of the Stars. Indianapolis, Indiana: Maury Boyd & Associates. p. 19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Romano, Sabrina (2013-12-05). "After suspension at CMU, 'Men of Principle' found Pitt chapter". The Pitt News. Retrieved 2014-03-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "The Men of Principle Initiative... 10 Years Later". Beta Theta Pi Magazine. 2. 136: 19–20, 22–25. 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Daves, Vanessa (2014-01-24). "Beta Theta Pi fraternity practices 'men of principle' philosophy". The Daily Nebraskan. Retrieved 2014-03-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Flanagan, Caitlin (19 February 2014). "The Dark Powers of Fraternities". The Atlantic. Retrieved 25 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Kingkade, Tyler (2013-06-14). "Wesleyan 'Rape Factory' Fraternity's Lawyers Demand Assault Victim Be Named Publicly". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-03-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Lane, Jackson (2013-06-14). "Beta Theta Pi suspended over sexually explicit recordings". The Tartan. Retrieved 2014-03-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Robinette, Eric (2014-02-28). "Fraternity closes at Miami following hazing, alcohol incidents". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 2014-03-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "UW frat suspended over hazing allegations". NBC. October 7, 2014. Retrieved May 10, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Long, Katherine (21 November 2014). "UW fraternity to disband over hazing incident". The Seattle Times. Retrieved May 10, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Connolly, Caroline. "Fraternity at U of U recognized for efforts to stop sexual assaults on campus". Fox13 (Salt Lake City). Retrieved 2015-01-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links


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