The Beta Theta Pi fraternity’s national organization disbanded its chapter at the University on May 2 after members of the fraternity repeatedly defied disciplinary measures imposed by national officials since 2005.
David Wright, the national organization’s general secretary, sent a letter to chapter members, advisors and alumni, as well as the University’s Office of Greek Life, explaining the sanction and the events that led up to its enactment.
According to the letter, the national fraternity’s growing disapproval of the chapter began in April 2005 after officials received photographs of chapter members drinking dangerous amounts of alcohol.
In summer 2006, four chapter members were caught violating the organization’s alcohol policies at a Beta Theta Pi leadership program.
After a new chapter member who was under 21 was hospitalized for excessive drinking, the national organization put the chapter on probation and forbade alcohol in the fraternity house.
Wright said in the letter that after finding out about a party the chapter had while on probation he warned members that the national organization wouldn’t tolerate another violation.
A picture of a chapter officer drinking alcohol in the fraternity house on St. Patrick’s Day finally pushed the national organization to disband the chapter, the letter said.
Jud Horras, an administrator of Beta Theta Pi’s national organization, said the pictures of chapter members that the letter referred to were sent to the national organization by a third party he refused to identify.
The University’s Interfraternity Council stands by the decision of Beta Theta Pi’s national organization to discontinue the chapter, said Chris Haggue, the assistant director in the Office of Greek Life.
“Even though this was a national fraternity decision, we share the concerns that caused them to act,” he said.
In the months leading up to the disbandment, Haggue said he participated in meetings and conference calls with the fraternity’s national leaders, alumni and chapter officers to try to improve the chapter’s standing.
Haggue said that the chapter had been a good contributor to Greek life and the IFC.
In the Beta Theta Pi national organization’s Men of Principle Initiative, an evaluation of the fraternity’s chapters, the University’s chapter fulfilled 57 of 60 criteria, Haggue said.
But according to the Office of Greek Life website, many of the incidents leading up to the chapter’s disbandment also violated IFC statements on social policy.
The IFC didn’t discipline the chapter for the violations because IFC officials thought the sanctions placed on the chapter by its national organization were sufficient, Haggue said.
Several members of the former chapter plan to appeal the decision at Beta Theta Pi’s national convention in August, said LSA senior Jonathan Oh, who belonged to the chapter.