Beta chapter suspended amid hazing, drug and alcohol accusations
The Beta Theta Pi campus chapter was suspended during the summer due to charges of under-age drinking, marijuana use and hazing. The fraternity was put on probation years before the suspension, starting with a hazing violation a few years ago and continuing with under-age drinking cases and accusations of drug use.
“It wasn’t any one thing, honestly. Ultimately what it came down to was lack of internal culpability,” Moe Stephens, Assistant Director of Student Activities for Greek Life and Leadership, said. “The actions of some members of Beta Theta Phi were inconsistent with the values of [the fraternity].”
Tom Crawford, former Beta Risk Manager, said, “I would say every Greek house has under-age drinking.” Crawford does not believe shutting down the chapter would help prevent under-age drinking. “It’s not a culture of prevention, just covering it up,” he said.
“The chapter was given several opportunities to change [its] culture… but were either unwilling or unable,” Stephens said, adding that it was the Beta Theta Pi headquarters that suspended the fraternity with school supporting the decision. Crawford claims the school gave headquarters an ultimatum in order to get Beta suspended.
The members of Beta interviewed felt that the school did a poor job of informing Beta executives of what was happening, particularly in the case of housing placement for the men who had planned to live in the Beta house this year. Members felt that school officials were not upfront about the fate of Beta when they could have been, and that they had been given false hope during discussions about it. There also appeared to be a miscommunication regarding the requirements of keeping the chapter alive.
According to Stephens, one requirement for Beta to remain at the university this year was for the house to reach full capacity plus to have two other members elsewhere on campus. Crawford said
that they believed that requirement was for the next academic year, and this year, they needed to have all those who intended to remain active members of Beta live in the house.
The members of the chapter believed that if the chapter was suspended, the housing contracts would be void. However, because members were informed of the suspension of the chapter three weeks into the summer, men who had signed housing contracts with plans to live in the house were held by the contract and forced to find other campus housing.
“Everyone in Beta felt that we were signing that conditional contract,” Brian Becker, Beta President during the 2009-2010 school year, said. “We all thought, ‘No Beta, no contract.’ I contacted the school administrators … and asked if … they knew that we thought it was conditional, but we were told that they were sorry that it came across but that wasn’t correct.”
Kevin Bohm, who was elected chapter President before its suspension, says, “I think it was a massive failure in communication… on the part of the school.” He said what he and most other members of Beta were upset about was that “the school kept giving us hope, and they waited about three weeks into the summer to tell us.”
According to Stephens, the chapter’s status as an active chapter of Beta Theta Pi was not even a serious discussion at the time that housing contracts were due.” Stephens says the chapter had been at risk for losing their house due to not meeting the occupancy level for a while and failed to meet the occupancy requirement for this academic year, as well.
Due to their expectation of living in the chapter’s house this year, members of Beta had left their possessions in the house’s storage. For an unknown reason, members of the Beta house have discovered that some of their possessions have gone missing.
“It’s not an easily replaceable institution,” says Crawford. “Beta was terrific because it gave people who wouldn’t typically consider joining a Greek house a place to feel welcomed. I hope to bring it back in the future. ”
Stephens has confirmed plans to revive the campus chapter in two to three years.