Beta Theta Pi reinstates UC Berkeley chapter after 2013 closure

Alice Langford/Staff

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Beta Theta Pi is reinstating its UC Berkeley chapter after its closure in fall 2013 because of “hazing and alcohol-related incidents” and other violations of fraternity agreements.

As part of recolonization, it initiated the refounding father pledge class Thursday, according to Keshav Jha, the chapter’s social chair. The pledge class does not have any members returning from 2013.

According to Daniel Saedi, president of the Interfraternity Council, the chapter has “totally new members (and a) totally new philosophy.”

The UC Berkeley chapter is currently recognized as a colony by Beta Theta Pi, the IFC at UC Berkeley and the campus. It is waiting for an official charter. There are currently two other colonies at UC Berkeley, Kappa Delta Rho and Alpha Kappa Lambda.

The amount of time it takes for a colony to become a chartered chapter varies between fraternities, but in Beta Theta Pi, it takes two to three years to meet the various criteria, said Jonathan Gillie, the chapter development coordinator at UC Berkeley.

Beta Theta Pi requires fraternity members to maintain an average chapter GPA of 3.2 and expects members to participate in at least one campus organization outside of the fraternity.

Gillie worked to develop campus relationships for six months before bringing a team from the national organization to actively recruit the new pledge class. The national organization has continued working together with the UC Berkeley chapter, providing an advisory team available to help with development.

The UC Berkeley chapter is well on track to becoming rechartered, according to Saedi.

“They’re much further ahead than the other two colonies. … They’ve had the biggest increase in memberships among the three (current) colonies,” Saedi said.

Members have expressed excitement at the prospect of being a part of the founding class and at the opportunity to be a part of the organization’s history. The UC Berkeley chapter of Beta Theta Pi was originally established in 1879.

“I love the fact that I get to be a founding member of the fraternity at Berkeley. … Beta’s been around for almost 200 years now … so it feels really incredible to be a part of something that has been around (so long),” Jha said.

Alumni from the UC Berkeley chapter of Beta Theta Pi have also been involved in efforts to reinstate the fraternity.

“You share experiences and through friendship and life that bond gets better and better. And that was my experience at Beta,” said Rus Bertuccelli, who was in the fraternity during the 1980s. “Many of us (as alumni) … would like to see Beta back on campus.”

The refounding class has 28 members, and it has already started recruiting for the next year.

“We’re definitely looking to engage in a lot of the philanthropy and charity services fraternities like to do, and we’re recruiting very actively,” said Jacob Bergquist, the chapter’s vice president of risk management.

Beta Theta Pi owns a house in Berkeley at 2728 Channing Way that is currently being rented out.

The fraternity plans to spend $1.4 million renovating the house and estimates that members will move in by fall 2017, according to Bergquist.

Contact Alex Fang at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @alexfang_DC.