Despite being only recently reinstated on campus, Beta Theta Pi fraternity is continuing to increase membership and residency in their house, located at 604 S. State St.
Last fall, the newly renovated fraternity house opened its doors to members and non-members in order to reach capacity in the house. The fraternity was re-established in fall 2010 after its removal from campus in 2007, and it’s currently in the process of boosting its membership.
Currently, 17 Beta members and 29 non-members, both male and female, reside in the Beta house—including law students, graduate students and other undergraduate students, according to Martin Williams, Beta Theta Pi resident director.
Kinesiology senior Dustyn Wright, current president of Beta Theta Pi, said he doesn’t think the inability to fill the house was a result of Beta’s past conflicts with its national organization. Instead, he attributed it to the process of re-establishing the fraternity on campus, since many members already had other housing arrangements prior to joining the fraternity.
The fraternity encountered problems after an underage member was admitted to the hospital for alcohol poisoning in 2007. The incident was one of a series of problems, including a series of Facebook pictures that emerged depicting objectified women and underage drinking, that drew the attention of the national organization in 2007 and ultimately led to the removal of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity from campus.
“That’s not what Beta’s all about,” Wright said.
The fraternity also faced scrutiny after a young woman claimed she was allegedly raped at a 2001 party that was unregistered with the Interfraternity Council. All fraternities are mandated to notify IFC about events where alcohol will be consumed and must adhere to enforced codes that include the presence of sober monitors.
Since its return in fall 2010, the fraternity has shifted its focus to forming a strong community in an alcohol-free environment. Wright said the fraternity has also installed a director of re-establishment within the house to help rebuild the chapter and recruit potential members.
Wright explained that during the fraternity’s absence on campus, the Beta house was rented to graduate students to avoid losing ownership of the property. New members were initiated last winter and last fall, and this September a group of members moved into the house.
With members and non-members residing in the Beta house, Wright said the fraternity plans extensively before holding a party out of respect for all residents.
“(Parties are) a very tough situation to handle, but, at the same time, we’re very respectful and we try to inform (non-members) well in advance,” Wright said.
He added that portions of the house are blocked off to visitors and non-members are notified of plans as soon as possible.
“Obviously we’ll respect (non-members) because they’re residents involved in part of the housing operations as much as we are,” Wright said.
Williams, who is also a member of the fraternity’s advisory board, said he has helped with the re-colonization of the fraternity, including enforcing policies and ensuring operations in the house run smoothly. Williams is also employed by Alpha Management Group, the company working to fill vacancies in the house.
“I basically serve as a mentor for not only the students in our fraternity, but pretty much anyone who lives in this house, in terms of maintaining a diverse, comfortable and intellectually stimulating environment,” Williams said.
Williams said there is no set limit on how many non-members can live in the Beta house, adding that from the interactions he has witnessed, he believes the Beta and non-Beta residents get along well.
“It really adds onto the atmosphere in a positive way, and there’s a lot of people that we enjoy hanging out with,” Williams said. “It’s surprisingly a very respectable and fun environment to be in, and it definitely works out.”
LSA senior Leah Heller, who has lived in Beta house since May, said her brother is a Beta member and recommended the house to her.
“(The house) seemed really nice,” Heller said. “At first, I didn’t believe it … it’s nice and welcoming.”
Non-members in the Beta house can purchase a meal plan through the fraternity, which Heller said gave her the chance to interact with many of the Beta members.
LSA sophomore Maxwell Salvatore is a Beta brother who has lived in the house since September. He said the members and non-members coexist peacefully together.
“We don’t get in each other’s way,” he said, adding that he enjoys the environment of the house and plans to live there for the 2012-2013 academic year.
—Cody Bowie contributed to this report.
Correction appended: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the rape of a woman attending a Beta Theta Pi party in 2001 was confirmed .