The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Beta Theta Pi fraternity returning to campus

Are you looking for a new group of men on campus that you can relate to? Haven’t joined a fraternity yet? Take a look at Beta Theta Pi. Yep, they’re coming back.

The chapter closed in 2005 after an accumulation of events that violated risk management policies and for bad academic performance. The final decision occurred after a student set off a fire alarm while smoking marijuana in the Beta house in October of 2005, according to the SMU police department’s crime log.

“We’re coming back to start with a clean slate,” said Phil Fernandez, director of expansion and recruitment for Beta Theta Pi.

Beta did not have its chapter revoked by SMU, said Shannon Sumerlin, Coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life at SMU. Instead, the fraternity made an agreement with the University that it would leave campus for a period of time and then start fresh with a new group of men. Sumerlin said the time-off served as an opportunity for Beta to bring the fraternity back to its roots: educating and preparing men to be leaders.

Ten years ago, Beta began a new initiative: “seeking men of principle.” Focused on lifelong friendship, cultivation of intellect, responsible leadership, responsible social conduct and commitment to the community, officials say the fraternity is dedicated to building leaders of principle.

Beta has closed more than 60 chapters over the past 10 years that were not focused on the values of the fraternity, Fernandez said. Beta distinguishes itself from other fraternities not only by recruiting above the all men’s GPA average at SMU, but also by its dedication to leadership nationally. Over the past three years, Beta has raised $20 million to endow leadership opportunities.

The fraternity provides leadership opportunities for Betas to gain real-world experience that doesn’t lose value after graduation, Fernandez said. The Donald W. English Beta Wilderness Challenge, an outdoor, high-adventure experience open to undergraduates, is a six-day backpacking expedition through the Teton Mountains focusing on Beta rituals and a series of challenging outdoor adventures. Similarly, The Keystone Regional Leadership Conference, with 701 attendees in 2008, is an educational experience focusing on chapter officer development aiming to teach principled leadership and volunteer training.

Beta is currently in the process of fall campaigning, Sumerlin said. Come spring, it will only be participating in the first day of formal recruitment.

The first day of the Interfraternity Council recruitment will be different than previous years. It will be an information-session-type of a meeting where each fraternity gives a short presentation describing what they are about, Sumerlin said. This will give Beta the opportunity to reach out.

Beta will not be participating in the formal bidding process. Representatives from Beta will be there during recruitment to discuss the fraternity with those who express interest, Sumerlin said. After the week of IFC recruitment is over, Beta will begin to look at the men who are interested.

“We are being very intentional about who we are speaking with,” Fernandez said.

The first pledge class will be called the “founding fathers” of the SMU chapter, Fernandez said. Founding fathers have the opportunity to shape the fraternity. Starting in fall of 2009, the Betas will reclaim residence in their original house on Yale Blvd. between Phi Gamma Delta and Sigma Phi Epsilon.

This time around Beta will be a “dry house,” Fernandez said, with no alcohol allowed inside the house. Beta will join the other dry fraternities on campus: Phi Gamma Delta, Phi Delta Theta and Sigma Phi Epsilon.

“Beta Theta Pi re-colonizing at SMU is an opportunity for our fraternity system to add more choices for men on the campus… It will be new, exciting, fresh…it’s going to be fabulous,” Sumerlin said.

Lindsay Johnston, a junior political science major and member of Delta Gamma, is excited about a new fraternity on campus.

Ryan Wheeler, a freshman business and vocal performance double major who is not interested in joining a fraternity, said that if the Betas stick with the idea of building men of high value and principle then it’s going to be great because building leaders is an important facet of all universities.

“It’s good to bring a different dynamic to the Interfraternity Council at SMU,” said Elizabeth Lowe, a sophomore journalism major and member of Delta Delta Delta sorority. “I’m excited to see what they are going to do on campus.”

Other students see Beta’s return as a way to change up the mix of fraternity men on campus. Paige Hardison, a junior art history major and member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, said that a new fraternity would bring a breath of fresh air to campus. Hardison said that taking an initiative to build leaders of principle stressing community involvement and academic excellence will bring a new caliber of men to Greek life at SMU.

Some campus men are viewing Beta as a new opportunity.

“It sounds really refreshing,” said Chris Corbeille, a freshman who is unsure of whether he will go through recruitment.

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