Burnett: College derecognizes Beta
By Jake Elberg
Published on Wednesday, November 20, 1996
Dean of Residential Life Mary Turco has decided to derecognize Beta Theta Pi fraternity, said Jack Burnett, president of the board of trustees of Beta's Dartmouth chapter.
"For the house to be derecognized is a serious measure," Burnett '71 said. "It's as serious as it can get."
Turco declined to comment on the case.
This decision comes after a College investigation of Beta for violating social restrictions the College placed on the fraternity after an incident Summer term.
The restrictions prohibited Beta from having alcohol in its house and holding formal rush until Nov. 26.
The incident occurred when one Beta brother tackled a Sigma Nu fraternity brother on the lawn of The Tabard coed fraternity.
A Tabard member then stepped outside in response to the noise, and several Betas shouted at him vulgar, racist and homophobic epithets and threats.
Commenting on that incident, Dean of the College Lee Pelton told the Dartmouth in August that Beta was a "house on the verge of derecognition."
"If there is another major episode at Beta, it seems to me that derecognition is probably the next step," he added in August.
Pelton last night said the College will issue an official statement about its decision within seven to 10 days.
Pelton last night declined to confirm that Beta had been derecognized, but explained the ramifications of derecognition.
"Derecognition means that an organization forfeits the privileges that come with recognition," Pelton said. "That includes the use of College facilities and the use of College offices to facilitate meetings and activities."
"There is also a rule that says a student organization which loses its recognition is not allowed to reside in a Coed Fraternity Sorority facility," Pelton added.
Beta President Tom Macejko '97 refused to comment on Turco's decision.
Burnett said Beta's trustees were not surprised by the ruling.
"The decision was not unforeseen," Burnett said. "We understand Turco's decision, and we respect it."
Burnett said Beta's trustees recently disciplined Beta for an incident in which Beta brothers attempted to take Chi Heorot fraternity's "presidential throne."
"After that incident, four undergraduates were disciplined by the committee of trustees, and the '98s were all disciplined as a class by the committee," Burnett said. Burnett would not comment on the nature of the disciplinary action taken by Beta's trustees.
Burnett said Beta's trustees will attempt to work within the College's decision to rectify the problems within the fraternity.
"Our whole posture is one of standing up and accepting responsibility in areas which we have been amiss and moving forward," Burnett said. "We expect it should not prevent everyone from working together to make sure that there is a strong and positive Beta on campus in the future."
Burnett said Beta hopes to be re-recognized by the College, although he is not sure when that would be.
"Hopefully we'll be able to reapply for recognition at some point in the future," Burnett said. "It's a little too early to tell when that will be. It's all being done very carefully."
Burnett said the trustees have been meeting since early August "to work on some creative solutions to Beta's problems which we all recognize."
"With these creative solutions we hope that soon there will be a Beta at Dartmouth of which everyone can be proud," he added.
Burnett said the positive aspect of the decision is that it will mean an end of a Beta chapter which has had a poor record in recent years.
"I think that there will never again be a Beta at Dartmouth that is allowed to have the poor behavior record that this chapter has had over the past seven years or so," Burnett said. "Betas across the country and around the world are happy to say good riddance to that."
Beta's derecognition marks the 5th major controversy Beta has been involved in since 1991.
In 1991 Beta was derecognized for three terms after 10 Beta brothers abducted and tormented a Chi Gamma Epsilon fraternity brother.
In the spring of 1994, Beta's recognition was suspended for one year because of a hazing incident which occurred the previous fall.
During the summer of 1995, Beta was condemned, but not sanctioned, by the College after the discovery of a racist and sexist poem that was allegedly read aloud at one of the fraternity's weekly meetings.
In response to that incident, Pelton wrote a letter to Beta in September of 1995, which was later released to the Dartmouth community, that rebuked Beta and called on them to react in a positive way to the incident.
The fourth incident is this summer's incident.