In an all campus email today, it was announced that Beta Theta Pi will be off limits to students for the full academic year starting on Monday, September 15. The administration’s decision was certainly amplified by this past weekend’s incident, in which a student was seriously injured after falling from a third story window. Along with this occurrence, Beta has been in the news in recent years for incidents of sexual assault. This is a definitive step for the administration, which has spent years refining housing policies to have more control over residential fraternities, in particular Beta Theta Pi.
The students who currently live in Beta will be given alternative university housing for the year. While the residence will be off limits for at least the full year, a final decision on the permanence of this resolution will be made by the Board of Trustees when they are on campus in two weeks.
Updated (9/15/14 5:29 PM): Beta is officially off limits to students for the year, starting today. An all-campus email today stated that any student found on the Beta property without permission from both the University and the alumni association that owns the house will be “charged with violating the Code of Non-Academic Conduct and sanctioned accordingly, up to and including immediate suspension. Students may also be subject to trespassing charges via Middletown Police, at the owners’ discretion.” The e-mail is reproduced below.
Updated (9/10/14 7:05 PM): In a decision effective immediately, the national organization of Beta Theta Pi downgraded the Wesleyan chapter from “Probation” to “Suspended,” according to a press release (reproduced below). “Moving forward and building positively on that reality, Beta Theta Pi must continue to accept responsibility for its members’ actions that have not lived up to the expectations of the University, community and larger General Fraternity.”
Beta has been established at Wesleyan for 125 years, but the national organization stated the “challenging behavior” of the chapter’s last few years have required reorganization. “The University will receive Beta’s full commitment and cooperation during this process and will have an active partner in helping develop Beta’s future contribution to the student body and Wesleyan experience.”
Roth’s email below:
To the Wesleyan Community:
We write to announce that the Beta Theta Pi residence at 184 High Street will be off-limits to all Wesleyan students effective Monday, September 15, 2014. The students currently living there will be provided with alternative university housing. The decision to prohibit students from using the Beta house is based on the long history of incidents there. Most recently, during a party at the house a student fell from a third floor window and was seriously injured. We have lost confidence in the ability of the fraternity members to manage social and residential activities at the house and abide by university policies. Wesleyan has an obligation to do what it reasonably can to ensure the safety of every member of the community, including the Beta fraternity members and their guests. The Beta house will remain off-limits to all Wesleyan students for the rest of the academic year at least. Down the road we are open to seeing from the fraternity a considered plan for the house and social activities there that satisfies our expectations for residential life at our university.
Michael S. Roth
Vice President for Student Affairs
Beta Theta Pi’s press release, via Director of Communication Martin Cobb:
BETA SUPPORTS FRIEND’S RECOVERY; SUSPENDS OPERATIONS AT WESLEYAN
“As difficult as it may be at the beginning of the academic year for all of our undergraduate members to be moved by Wesleyan University out of the chapter house into alternative university housing, Beta Theta Pi undergraduates and alumni remain focused first and foremost on the recovery of the young woman who attempted to climb onto the roof of our chapter house this past weekend,” remarked Administrative Secretary Jud Horras. “She is a close friend to many undergraduate Betas and they are spending time in the hospital supporting her and her family. Initial accounts indicate this appears to have been a simple accident.”
“Beta Theta Pi has enjoyed 125 years at Wesleyan, but the chapter has been in the midst of an extensive period of self-renewal and reorganization following several years of challenging behavior. Moving forward and building positively on that reality, Beta Theta Pi must continue to accept responsibility for its members’ actions that have not lived up to the expectations of the University, community and larger General Fraternity. To that end, effective immediately, the Fraternity is downgrading the chapter’s status from “Probation” to “Suspension.” This will provide an opportunity for appropriate measures of collaboration to be acted upon as a result of examining the broader context of the chapter’s culture and its short- and long-term future. The University will receive Beta’s full commitment and cooperation during this process and will have an active partner in helping develop Beta’s future contribution to the student body and Wesleyan experience.”
Known across the continent for its award-winning Men of Principle initiative, Beta Theta Pi ranks among the top 10 fraternities in number of chapters, undergraduate members and living alumni. This past academic year, the Fraternity achieved a 3.193 GPA, the highest mark in its 175-year history. Notable alumni include United States Senator Richard G. Lugar, Denison ’54, Legendary Basketball Coach John Wooden, Purdue ’32, Wal-Mart Founder Sam Walton, Missouri ’40, Nike Co-Founder Bill Bowerman, Oregon ’33, Hall of Fame Baseball Player Mike Schmidt, Ohio ’71, and Retail Guru Bruce Nordstrom, Washington ’55.
Beta Theta Pi was founded in 1839 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and consists of nearly 9,400 undergraduates on 131 campuses throughout the United States and Canada. The Fraternity serves more than 128,000 living alumni, some 1,500 volunteers, countless Friends of Beta and the parents of all undergraduates.
All-campus e-mail from Dean Rick Culliton, from Monday, September 15th:
As a follow up to the September 10th announcement that the Beta Theta Pi house would be closed today, I want to provide you with notice about the specific policy now in effect. The University’s existing Residency policy stipulates that Wesleyan students are prohibited from using houses or property owned, leased or operated by Greek organizations that are not recognized by the University. Effective today, any student found to be at the Beta property at 184 High Street without permission from both the University and from the alumni association that owns the house will be charged with violating the Code of Non-Academic Conduct and sanctioned accordingly, up to and including immediate suspension. Students may also be subject to trespassing charges via Middletown Police, at the owners’ discretion.
Dean of Students
For further reading:
Nightmare on High Street: The Beta Chronicles (11/10/10)
Beta: Beginning of the End? (2/14/11)
Mapping the Student Response to Beta-Gate (2/16/11)
Roth Addresses ‘Too Broad’ Housing Policy (2/14/11)
Beta Signs Revised Housing Policy (6/17/11)
Settlement in Federal Lawsuit Against Beta and Wesleyan (9/10/13)
What’s Going on with Fraternities, Sexual Assault, and the WSA? (4/27/14)
Student Hospitalized After Falling from Beta Window (9/7/14)