UC Berkeley chapter of Beta Theta Pi closes after failing to meet national standards

Masha Andreyeva/Staff
Beta Theta Pi, located on 2728 Channing Way, was disbanded by their national organization this week.

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The Omega chapter of Beta Theta Pi fraternity at UC Berkeley was closed by its national administration, according to an email from the fraternity’s national headquarters.

Fraternity members, volunteers and family members were notified by an email from Beta Theta Pi General Secretary David E. Schmidt on Wednesday afternoon. The chapter, which includes 36 undergraduates and eight new members, will no longer be allowed to participate in activities sponsored by CalGreeks, UC Berkeley’s overarching Greek organization.

As of Thursday, UC Berkeley’s Interfraternity Council no longer recognizes the chapter as an active institution, said IFC Vice President of External Affairs Howard Brown. Mike Bush, who was the fraternity’s president, declined to comment.

The General Fraternity, Beta Theta Pi’s national administration, made multiple attempts to effect change at its UC Berkeley chapter before ultimately deciding to disband it. According to Schmidt’s email, the chapter was placed under reorganization in 2011 but violated agreements through “hazing and alcohol-related incidents” in 2012 and 2013. The fraternity committed another violation when it hosted an unauthorized party earlier this fall that “disregarded all forms of reasonable and required risk management,” according to the email.

After local alumni and undergraduates tried to address these problems, the General Fraternity made the decision to close the chapter, Schmidt said.

“At this point, a period of closure is necessary in order to stop this pattern of behavior and enable the Omega Chapter to continue its legacy at Berkeley in the future,” he said in the email. The General Fraternity was unwilling to make any further comment.

Some members of nearby fraternities were surprised at the news of the chapter’s disbandment.

UC Berkeley junior Eric Liu, a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, lives across the street from the Beta Theta Pi house. He said he had not seen many fire trucks near the house, nor had he heard any loud sounds.

“I was really shocked when I heard about it,” he said. “I live here, so I can hear things that go on, and usually they’re very quiet. I was taken aback.”

Schmidt said in the email that the General Fraternity will collaborate with Omega chapter alumni, the UC Berkeley administration and the campus Interfraternity Council to help reinstate the chapter, which could be back at UC Berkeley as soon as the 2015-16 school year.

“Although we had no control over the outcome, the IFC supports the decision of Beta Theta Pi’s national, with the hope that the Omega chapter might be recolonized,” Brown said in an email.

According to Brown, the students living at the Beta Theta Pi house will be allowed to live there until the end of their leases. Afterward, the fraternity’s housing association will decide what to do with the house. He said it is likely the house will be rented out until the chapter is reinstated.

Contact Tahmina Achekzai at [email protected].