Beta Theta Pi comes back to Baylor new, improved

By Maegan Rocio
Staff Writer

The alphabet soup of Greek letters that represent fraternities and sororities at Baylor just got more meaty.

Beta Theta Pi, a fraternity, is reopening a chapter of Baylor’s Greek Life and recruiting new members after being closed at Baylor in 2011.

Austin Hayes, the coordinator of Greek life for fraternities at Baylor, said that she is excited the organization is adding another chapter.

“Greek life is strong, and I think it would be a great asset to the community,” Hayes said.

The national organization Beta Theta Pi was founded in Oxford, Ohio, on Aug. 8, 1839.

The original fraternity chapter at Baylor was founded in 1980.

Alexander Gardner, one of the colony development coordinators of Beta Theta Pi, said since the organization started its Men of Principle initiative in 1997, Beta Theta Pi closed more than 90 chapters in the nation because they were not adhering to the fraternity’s standards. Baylor’s chapter was not one of the 90 chapters closed.

The organization retained its student activities charter at the university.

“We said, ‘You’re not living up to what it means to be a Beta. This is not what Beta is supposed to be about. We’ll close and come back,’” he said. “So, today, we have about 125 chapters across North America, but our fraternity is actually larger than it was in 1997. We have more men that want to be a part of the experience that we did back then.”

Gardner said for the past 15 years, the organization has been undergoing a renovation.

“We needed to go back and return to our founding values and really focus on those,” he said.

Gardner said Baylor’s mission statement and the students it produces are reasons the organization returned.

“We recognize that the type of student who is at Baylor is usually pretty ambitious,” he said. “They want to do a lot whether that’s through worldwide service and leadership, like Baylor’s mission says, or whether it’s in the classroom. Typically, people here are motivated in the classroom and outside of the classroom to help others, and that’s the kind of person we want to be a part of the fraternity.”

Gardner said the fraternity is committed to intellectual growth and will require members to maintain a certain GPA.

“We’re actually going to hold a 3.0 GPA standard,” he said. “So, essentially, we want to hold and make sure we’re being true to our values. By holding a 3.0 GPA standard, we say to the campus, ‘Yeah, we’re committed to intellectual growth. We’re committed to that core value.’”

But that’s not all the fraternity requires.

“We’re actually going to have a membership requirement that requires someone to be a part of another student organization,” Gardner said. “We don’t just want to take over somebody’s life, we want to supplement their life. We believe in giving back, whether that’s organically or through community service. I would love to be a partner with a mentoring program. That’s something I would really be interested in because when you go back to our core, we’re about developing our principle.”

Gardner said Beta Theta Pi offers a different fraternity experience for its members.

“I believe that fraternity is the vehicle for teaching people about life and leadership, and helping people understand respectfully and being open-minded to different experiences and saying, ‘Ok, I want to get to know you as a person. All right, let’s talk.’”

Gardner said the organization will offer scholarships both to its members and male students that aren’t affiliated with the organization.

“Because of our commitment to our intellectual growth, Beta gives away every year about $82,000 in scholarship money to its members,” he said. “But, this year at Baylor, we’re actually going to give away about $1,000 maybe more because we had an alum generously donate a little bit more. Basically, it’s a way for us to say thank you for living the core values of our organization without even being a member.”

Gardner said he is excited to work with Baylor students to create a new legacy.

“You get to be a part of shaping an organization and really defining how we’re going to be seen here and what impact we’re going to have,” he said. “That really excites me. I think that we can do a lot, and I’m really looking forward to this year.”