When Brendan Leviten rushed his freshman year he found the process unproductive.
Rather than learning about potential recruitees, the fraternities he described “only wanted me to show them how cool I was or how much I could make them laugh — to impress them.”
Now vice president of recruitment for Beta Theta Pi, Leviten and his brothers can be seen extending an olive branch to any candidate who has ever thought about joining a fraternity, doesn’t want to join a fraternity, knows how to spell the word fraternity and all in-between.
“We want men of a higher standard.”
An average day of recruitment for Leviten includes meeting with potential members to gauge their interest level, their knowledge of fraternities and the stereotypes that parallel brotherhood.
Because Beta Theta Pi is consists primarily of members who originally rejected the idea of joining, Leviten actually prefers those who are initially uninterested due to perceived stereotypes.
Whether because of an oversexualized atmosphere, alcohol abuse tendencies, fear of hazing culture or deception, the stigma of fraternities often causes students to loathe them. This perspective only conveniences Leviten’s duty as a recruiter.
“It allows us the opportunity to educate potential candidates about what a fraternity should be,” he said.
Leviten describes Beta Theta Pi as a “different kind of fraternity with higher expectations and higher quality individuals.”
Whereas the university and other fraternities typically require a 2.5 minimum GPA to join, Beta mandates a 3.0 for induction. Academic excellence always takes priority, according to the fraternity.
While there are plenty of academic and career-based fraternities on campus that require a 3.0 or higher for acceptance, Beta Theta Pi considers itself on a higher tier of standards and ethics. Whether morally or intellectually, members never refer to themselves as an academic fraternity.
During the 2018 spring semester, Beta Theta Pi held its first philanthropy event promoting sexual assault awareness and prevention, in which they passed out flyers and additional resources to inform fellow students. While other fraternities on campus often raise money for events such as UDance, “they never explain their intentions,” Leviten said.
Recently elected president Garret Christino echoed those same sentiments.
“Beta Theta Pi was founded on mutual assistance, trust and intellectual growth,” Christino said. “We’re not just a drinking club.”
The Beta Theta Pi national organization, however, has recently found themselves in the national spotlight after a deadly incident at their Penn State chapter. In February of 2017, a student rushing that chapter died while pledging in a hazing initiation ritual known as the “gauntlet.” This ceremony is comprised of recruits persisting through drinking stations with each corresponding event significantly more taxing than the last. One of these included consuming entire wine bags while being doused in beer.
The student, Timothy Piazza, was found unconscious by his brothers after hitting his head while intoxicated. They proceeded to slap and pour water on him until eventually giving up and leaving him for the night. The next day, his body had turned grey before paramedics were ever called.
“It challenges other chapters to prove that that’s not actually what we’re about,” Christino said.
Beta Theta Pi, according to Leviten and Christino, isn’t concerned with their brothers maintaining appearances if they have other priorities that take precedence. Anything from studying for exams, completing homework assignments or lab work are all valid reasons not to attend weekly meetings. Unlike the fraternities that require daily attendance in spite of declining academics, the pair said, Beta Theta Pi encourages their members to focus on the aspects of college life “that actually matter.”
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