Men of Principle: Then, Now, and Always

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In August 1996, Beta Theta Pi alumnus E.B. Wilson, St. Lawrence ’53, put forth a challenge to the general fraternity in the form of a letter to the editor in The Beta Theta Pi magazine.

Wilson urged Beta Theta Pi to carve a different path than other fraternities and to reverse the emerging Greek culture he felt was not in line with their core values. By 1999, Beta Theta Pi had risen to the challenge, and the Men of Principle initiative we all know today was born.

For the last nearly two decades, developing men of principle for a principled life—through the cultivation of intellect, responsible conduct, mutual assistance, integrity and trust—has been the mission of the Alpha Eta chapter of Beta Theta Pi. Today, it remains the back bone of our chapter and something we see reflected in the lives of so many of both our active and alumni members as they truly live principled lives by all definitions.

When it comes to intellect and the call to prioritize academics as an important value of Beta membership, the brothers of Alpha Eta continue to hit the ball out of the park.

Since instituting the Men of Principle initiative, Beta Theta Pi as a whole has seen the Fraternity’s average chapter GPA rise from just above a 2.8 to a 3.24, as of 2017. In the last three years at the Alpha Eta chapter alone, the average chapter GPA has not fallen lower than a 3.154, has always been higher than the all fraternity average at Denison and has more than once been recognized as the highest average GPA of all Denison fraternities. For our alumni, the desire for intellectual growth is reflected in the seemingly countless brothers who are achieving great things in their fields across the country.

In addition to intellectual growth, we’ve seen even greater displays of integrity, responsible conduct and trust throughout Betas of all generations, and we’ve seen brothers spanning generations fulfill the call for mutual assistance. As Betas, we believe that men are mutually obligated to help others in the honorable labors and aspirations of life. Through the implementation of leadership programs and participation in opportunities such as the Peter F. Greiner Leadership College, held during the Fraternity’s General Convention, our active brothers are becoming leaders prepared to assist in honorable labors and ready to help others achieve their aspirations.

Perhaps even further exemplifying the principle of mutual assistance, however, are you, our alumni. It is through the generous, ongoing support and donation of funds, time and talents that the value of mutual assistance is most readily and easily identified. It is through this assistance that Beta Theta Pi, and specifically the Alpha Eta chapter, is able to continue to develop men of principle.

These men of principle that have been the cornerstone of our chapter since Wilson first penned his letter to the editor more than 20 years ago, and it’s these men of principle we strive to continue to develop through Alpha Eta chapter for today and for the future.