UCSD’s Greek Life Welcomes “Men of Principle” to Campus

As part of its nationwide expansion process the Beta Theta Pi fraternity has come to UCSD this year

The Greek community at UCSD has made room for a new addition this school year — its very own chapter of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Beta is one of the longest standing Greek organizations in the nation dedicated to cultivating men of principle with strong interpersonal and leadership skills.

This process of expansion began in June, after the UCSD Inter-Fraternity Council voted in favor of bringing the values-based, social fraternity to campus. Since then, a team of advisors from Beta have been surveying the expectations and needs of students and administration and building relationships on campus to gear up for a full-fledged recruitment effort from Oct. 12 to Nov. 9.

“This is an organization for gentlemen, leaders and scholars, and we hold that to a very high standard in our expansion process,” Colin Gerker, a colony development coordinator for Beta’s colonization at UCSD, said. “We’re looking for students that are high-performing, and what that looks like is students that think that they’re way too busy to get involved with a fraternity.”

The 175-year-old organization, founded in 1839 at Miami University, was the first college fraternity to be established west of the Allegheny Mountains and now boasts over 130,000 living members from 129 campuses in the United States and Canada.

“We’re an organization that has been extremely illustrious between the years of 1839 and 1950,” Gerker said. “And then we got into the same problem that different fraternities and sororities got into between the ’60s and the ’90s because of the ‘Animal House’ culture that was widespread in the Greek community.”

The trouble that Beta encountered led them to enact the “Men of Principle” initiative in 1997 as a push towards improving fraternity life and remodeling the Greek community. Beta now aims to do fraternity life, as described by Gerker, the right way.

“The focus of our fraternity is not to front-load the experience with this major, ‘rager’ social party dynamic — the college experience contains that,” Gerker said. “Over the last 15 years, we’ve closed 90 chapters — the reason being that we’re not afraid of letting go of what we don’t really want our organization to be.”

On another note, Gerker shared that in the past 17 years, Beta has reopened 65 chapters that abide by the fraternity’s renewed model, which emphasizes ethical values, leadership and academics.

“From our perspective, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to actually do fraternity life the right way,” Gerker said. “We have a strict no-hazing policy. Every campus that we go to that has Greek housing — our houses are dry. Yes, it’s a social organization. We’re not saying that you can’t go out and have a good time, but at the same time, there’s a difference between doing keg stands and having a beer when you’re just watching soccer.”

Because of their rigid adherence to high standards, Gerker highlighted that current members of Beta average the top GPA among fraternities while maintaining a solid commitment to locally based community outreach. He noted that Beta allocates a lot more money to leadership development than do other fraternities and that they are the only fraternity with an online education system.

Beta is currently undergoing a rapid expansion project that is taking place not only at UCSD, but at eight other campuses across the country as well. Some of these include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Florida State University and Drexel University.

“So far, I think it’s been going very well,” Gerker said. “I’ve noticed that students [at UCSD] are very excited about us coming along. We have been in talks with individuals that want to become members of our organization, so by the time we do start being able to give out bids, we’re going to have about seven to 10 guys that are jumping on board [already].”

Gerker expressed his excitement about presenting Beta to UCSD.

“I’m just really, really fortunate to be at a campus that is so welcoming of us,” Gerker said. “The students on campus are extremely impressive. We think this is the type of institution that Beta needs to be at.”

Presently, Beta is giving non-fraternity affiliated male students the opportunity to receive $1,000 through their “Men of Principle Scholarship.” The application deadline is Oct. 13.

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