Beta Theta Pi

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Beta Theta Pi
Abbreviation: Beta
Org Founded: 1839 at Miami University (Ohio)
CU Chapter: Alpha Alpha
Chapter Established: 1881
Motto: A king our founder.
Symbol(s): Dragon, Star, Diamond
House: 550 W. 114th
Recognition: IFC
Contact: Shaun Wang,

Beta Theta Pi, Alpha Alpha chapter, is one of the fraternities recognized by the Interfraternity Council. The chapter currently occupies a brownstone on 114th St. The fraternity more commonly goes by its nickname Beta.

In spring 2012 the chapter earned a 3 star ALPHA Standards of Excellence rating and earned achievement awards in philanthropy (presented to chapters that raise over $60 per member), community service (presented to chapters that complete over 20 service hours per member), and campus involvement (presented to chapters where over 60% are involved in another campus activity.) ALPHA Standards are used primarily in assessing which Greek organizations may maintain or gain brownstones, and is the backbone of Greek Life's relationships with the Columbia administration. As such, Beta is slightly detached from these systems, as the fraternity has little to gain or lose from maintaining spectacular ALPHA Standards.

In spring 2013 Beta earned a 4 star ALPHA Standards of Excellence rating.

Members are required to maintain a GPA above 3.2.

Service & Philanthropy

Brothers support Nourishing NYC, a not-for-profit community food program that strives to achieve “nutrition for all” in New York City. Beta’s house was also used to host “Burritos with Beta” where donated ingredients were used to prepare and serve Mexican food to Columbia students, with all proceeds going directly to charity. Most recently, Beta has reinitiated their annual Beta Jam music event. Beta Jam is a set of live musical performances, ranging from alternative rock to hip hop to EDM, with a small entry fee dedicated towards philanthropy. Rare Candy has partnered with Beta for this.

The Beta house also serves as a hub for scholarly events, most notably through the “Brown Bag Symposium” program. Experts in a particular field of study are invited to the house to give a lecture on a topic of their choosing, followed by a Q&A and light refreshments. These lectures are open to the entire Columbia University population, so as to benefit the community at large as well as the Brotherhood. Most recently, the Alpha Alpha chapter hosted world-famous Japanologist Professor Donald Keene and East Asian studies expert Professor William de Bary as they discussed “Asian Humanities and the Core Curiculum.”

About Beta at Columbia

Beta Theta Pi, which arrived at Columbia in 1881, is a fraternity on 114th Street.

Beta was removed from the Columbia Greek system in 2000 for charges of drug abuse, among other things. Members of the Class of 2006 resurrected the troubled wrestling frat in 2002, as an organization primarily composed of students involved with student government. Members are now required to do community service and maintain a GPA above 3.2.

In September 2009 it was reported that Beta had the highest Greek Life GPA for the past three years. In the Spring Semester of 2009 the overall GPA was a 3.8 according to the Center for Greek Life.

As of March 2018, Beta is the only fraternity at Columbia with full housing independence. The Beta House is private property owned 100% by the Alpha Alpha Alumni Housing Corporation, meaning Columbia has no legal jurisdiction over the property. Substantively, this means that the insides of the property can be painted however the residents like, Greek life RAs have no right to enter the property, and furniture can be brought into or removed from the house at will. The chapter has called the NYPD on a Columbia Residence Hall Director in the past, and the police very quickly removed said Director from the property for trespassing.

Recently, Beta has become an eclectic hub of all academic disciplines, including Computer Science, Economics, Classics, Chemistry, and Engineering Majors, as well as active musicians (given recent additions to their common spaces, including a piano), hosting numerous music events (Beta Jam) and providing a practice space for several campus music groups. Beta is also one of the only fraternity houses to have its own covered outdoor space (accessible without Columbia needing to grant permission), cat, and dog.

Beta brothers can be found active throughout Columbia organizations, including: Spec, Bwog, The Fed, WKCR, COOP, NSOP, various theatre groups, Varsity Show, Model UN, various a cappella groups, econ societies, and a number of cultural and religious organizations.

LionLaundry uses the Beta house to deposit laundry during their weekly pickups and dropoffs. As a result, Beta brothers living in the house receive free laundry services, including folding and delivery.


Beta's house

Beta Theta Pi was founded at Miami of Ohio in 1839 and its mission is to develop principled men to lead a principled life. The Columbia chapter was founded in 1881 and is one of 125 chapters of this international fraternity ( The Beta brownstone on 114th Street was for a long time the only fraternity brownstone not owned by Columbia, and has been the chapter house of Beta Theta Pi since 1933. The chapter house was acquired by the Betas in 1910 when the Theta chapter of Phi Sigma Kappa went inactive. Since 1933 the Betas have been a fixture of Greek life on 114th Street. The Beta house received a major renovation in 2005 and is now pretty teched out. For a while it was the only fraternity brownstone not owned by Columbia, the Fiji house just down the block having been heisted by the Big Blue Loan Shark some years ago. In 2009, the alumni of ADP purchased their house from the University, as well.

The chapter motto selected in 1910 for the Alpha Alpha chapter of Beta Theta Pi is “A King Our Founder”, which is a reference to Columbia’s founding as Kings College as well as a nod to the famous founding member William Raimond Baird. William Raimond Baird, Stevens, 1878/Columbia 1882 worked in uniting the Alpha Sigma Chi Fraternity to Beta Theta Pi and while in Law School he founded the Alpha Alpha chapter at Columbia. William Raimond Baird is known for being the preeminent researcher of all Greek life organizations and his collected works are found in the Baird Collection of Fraternal Literature at the New York Public Library.

The exterior of the building has been painted red, white, and blue since 1976. Until 2012, a quote from Dante was painted above the doorway: "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'entrate" (Abandon all hope, ye who enter here). In 2013, that quotation was repainted. The Italian is taken from the Bantam Classics paperback.

Famous Columbia Betas include: Eddie Collins, 1907, MLB Baseball Player, Manager Red Sox, Baseball Hall of Fame, Edward Whittemore, 1945, Chairman/CEO American Brands Chet Forte, 1957, Director – ABC Monday Night Football, Eric M. Javits, 1952, Ambassador, Oxford Cup Recipient , Frank S. Hogan, 1922, Law 1924, District Attorney, County of New York, 1941-1973 (Hogan Hall at Columbia University is named after him)

External Links

Greek life at Columbia
IFC Fraternities: Alpha Delta PhiAlpha Epsilon PiBeta Theta PiDelta Sigma PhiKappa Delta RhoPhi Gamma DeltaPi Kappa AlphaPsi UpsilonSigma ChiSigma NuSigma Phi EpsilonZeta Beta Tau
Panhel Sororities: Alpha Chi OmegaAlpha Omicron PiDelta GammaGamma Phi BetaKappa Alpha ThetaSigma Delta Tau
Multicultural Greek Fraternities: Phi Iota AlphaAlpha Phi AlphaKappa Alpha PsiOmega Psi PhiPi Delta PsiLambda Phi EpsilonSigma Lambda Beta
Multicultural Greek Sororities: Lambda Pi ChiSigma Iota AlphaDelta Sigma ThetaKappa Phi LambdaSigma Lambda Gamma
Inactive (de-recognized): Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sigma Alpha Epsilon