Beta Theta Pi (ΒΘΠ, also 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 114 active chapters and 23 colonies in the United States and Canada. More than 300,000 members have been initiated worldwide and there are currently around 11,000 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."

Founder's Paragraph

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:


The five core values espoused by Beta Theta Pi are cultivation of intellect, responsible conduct, mutual assistance, integrity and trust.[3] 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 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.[4]

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.[5] After this first year of piloting, the Men of Principle initiative was officially introduced at the 160th General Convention in Oxford, in 1999.[3][4] 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[4]

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 2016, the fraternity's GPA had risen to a 3.23. The average chapter size in 2017 was 78.5 men, compared to 48.9 in 1997. In 1997, there was an average of two advisors per chapter, while as of 2017 there was an average of eight advisors working with each one of the chapters.[4]

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.[3]

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 21,409 men 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.[6][7][8]

In 2012, the Purdue University chapter was suspended for harming pledges and providing alcohol to minors.[9]

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.[3][10][11][12]

In February 2014, the fraternity's Alpha chapter at Miami University was closed in response to alcohol and hazing incidents.[13]

In October 2014, the University of Washington chapter was suspended by the university following hazing allegations.[14] The chapter was disbanded by the fraternity a month later, following an investigation.[15]

In 2016, the University of Oregon chapter was disbanded due to hazing and other "high-risk" activities.[16]

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.[17] Eighteen members of the fraternity were arrested and charged for his wrongful death.[18] The former chapter faces more than 147 charges, including involuntary manslaughter.[19][20]

See also


  1. ^ "About Beta". betathetapi.org. Archived from the original on 2013-05-30. 
  2. ^ Beta Theta Pi. "Home Page". Retrieved 2014-10-13. 
  3. ^ a b c d Romano, Sabrina (2013-12-05). "After suspension at CMU, 'Men of Principle' found Pitt chapter". The Pitt News. Archived from the original on 2014-03-14. Retrieved 2014-03-14. 
  4. ^ a b c d "The Men of Principle Initiative... 10 Years Later". The Beta Theta Pi Magazine. 2. 136: 19–20, 22–25. 2008. 
  5. ^ Daves, Vanessa (2014-01-24). "Beta Theta Pi fraternity practices 'men of principle' philosophy". The Daily Nebraskan. Retrieved 2014-03-14. 
  6. ^ Flanagan, Caitlin (19 February 2014). "The Dark Powers of Fraternities". The Atlantic. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  7. ^ Kingkade, Tyler (2013-06-14). "Wesleyan 'Rape Factory' Fraternity's Lawyers Demand Assault Victim Be Named Publicly". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-03-14. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ http://www.purdueexponent.org/campus/article_eb70a964-b4a1-5d1c-a4e8-ac10b0651444.html
  10. ^ Lane, Jackson (2013-06-14). "Beta Theta Pi suspended over sexually explicit recordings". The Tartan. Retrieved 2014-03-14. 
  11. ^ Sostek, Anya (March 30, 2013). "CMU fraternity suspended over sexual pictures, videos". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved January 29, 2017. 
  12. ^ McEvoy, Blaine (August 28, 2013). "The Most Out-of-Control Fraternities in America". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 29, 2017. 
  13. ^ Robinette, Eric (2014-02-28). "Fraternity closes at Miami following hazing, alcohol incidents". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 2014-03-14. 
  14. ^ "UW frat suspended over hazing allegations". King5.com. NBC. October 7, 2014. Retrieved May 10, 2015. 
  15. ^ Long, Katherine (21 November 2014). "UW fraternity to disband over hazing incident". The Seattle Times. Retrieved May 10, 2015. 
  16. ^ http://www.dailyemerald.com/2016/03/13/beta-theta-pi-disbanded-for-reports-of-hazing/
  17. ^ http://onwardstate.com/2017/02/17/penn-state-revokes-beta-theta-pis-recognition-imposes-strict-greek-social-regulations/
  18. ^ http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Penn-State-Frat-Pledge-Party-Death-Grand-Jury-421425594.html?cid=sm_npd_nn_fb_ma
  19. ^ "Penn State Frat Hit With More Than 850 Charges After Student Dies in 'Gauntlet' Hazing Incident". Complex CA. Retrieved 2017-05-08. 
  20. ^ "[Document] Full Grand Jury Presentment In Beta Theta Pi Case". Onward State. 2017-05-05. Retrieved 2017-05-10. 

External links


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