Beta’s Back, Baby

Andy Monserud, Staff Reporter

Whitman’s chapter of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity is expected to remain in its house for the 2017-2018 school year, and possibly beyond.

Betas received the news following a Sunday meeting between fraternity leaders and the board of the Gamma Zeta Association, which owns the Beta chapter house at 925 E. Isaacs Ave. The meeting came a week after Gamma Zeta sent members an email announcing that the house would be closed for the fall semester and possibly longer due to low membership and what they called “declining commitment to the traditions of Beta on the Whitman campus.”

The house will remain open with 14 members living in it, according to sophomore Jules Choquart, President of the chapter. Earlier this week, Beta members and Gamma Zeta “struck a deal” under which Beta could recruit a minimum of 17 residents in order to keep the chapter open, according to first-year Jack Taylor. That, Taylor said, would provide enough in rent and utilities money to keep the house running.

Taylor managed to talk them down to 14, still more than twice the house’s current count of six residents. The housing corporation will subsidize the remaining costs. His argument, he said, was that Beta should put quality over quantity.

“After taking a few days trying to get those seventeen people, our big problem was not so much that we could not find people… but that we could not find dedicated people,” Taylor said. “Beta’s slogan is ‘men of principle,’ and so they really, genuinely wanted us to have men of principle.”

The 14 members who will live in the house, Choquart said, fit that bill. Kyle Fix, president of the Inter-Fraternity Council, concurred.

“They’re now 14 strong members committed to personal excellence,” Fix wrote in an email.

And, crucially for the continued existence of Beta, Choquart believes the members will devote their energy to increasing the fraternity’s numbers.

“[Those members] were very interested in making that commitment that was necessary to get Beta on an upswing and get better rushes,” Choquart said. “Which involves everybody taking officer positions and of putting in the work necessary to get the infrastructure back in place and get it going again.”

The hope, Choquart said, is that Beta will be able to attract enough new members next fall and spring to eliminate the need for the subsidy.

Beta will still be running lean next year, with almost all current members taking on leadership positions, Choquart said. Elections will be held at the next chapter meeting to fill 13 positions—meaning all Betas but one will hold positions, since Beta expects to have only 14 members next fall.

Taylor, though, is optimistic.

“We’re not dead yet,” he said. “We’re not dying. Period.”