Cancellation of Summer Programs Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic
April 1, 2020
Beta Brothers, Sweethearts and Friends:
We are writing tonight to provide important updates regarding the growing impact of COVID-19 and, specifically, how it relates to Beta’s 181st General Convention, summer sessions of the Wooden Institute and the Son of the Stars training program.
As noted in both a March 11 officer update and last week’s special edition of “The Beta Brief,” the Board of Trustees has been closely monitoring the spread of the disease. To say it is having a profound effect on life as we know it would be a considerable understatement.
As a result, and given intensified, expert forecasts for prolonged difficulties around the world, Monday night your Board of Trustees made the difficult but unanimous decision to cancel Beta’s 181st General Convention per authority provided in The Code of Beta Theta Pi. In addition, Trustees affirmed their support of the recommendation to cancel all summer sessions of the Wooden Institute and our Son of the Stars training program.
Rationale for these decisions rests in five parts:
- Health and safety of our members is paramount, and we must do all we can to minimize group interaction both indoors and via travel by air or car. Despite hopes that spread of the disease will peak in the next 30-60 days, infections are still predicted to be pervasive throughout the summer months and travel restriction advisories may still be in place.
- Leadership often requires difficult decision-making, regardless of timing complexities, incomplete information and the murkiness of an unclear future. The volume of unknowns facing all levels of the Fraternity deserve as much decisiveness and relief we can possibly provide.
- Planning by undergraduates, alumni, volunteers and staff is growing increasingly difficult as circumstances evolve and medical experts continue to stress that individuals, organizations and businesses need to brace for an extended period of social isolation. Establishing some degree of certainty as it relates to these programs can help individuals, chapters and the Fraternity at-large dedicate time and treasure to activities that are better suited to sustain our local chapters and support our brothers during this stressful period.
- Finances are not immune from the current health crisis, and the resources of our members and chapters must be considered thoughtfully. Whether it relates to chapter dues and room and board fees that were cut short due to campus closings, travel costs associated with these programs, or the General Fraternity’s contractual obligations requiring food and beverage minimums and room-night guarantees, acting now can minimize losses for all entities of the Fraternity. Conserving resources necessary to fund critical Beta priorities over the long-term must remain at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
- Historical precedence demonstrates the Fraternity’s need to take special measures during international emergencies to safeguard one another and the integrity of the organization. Whether it was amidst the Civil War in the early 1860s, the financial depression of 1874 or World War II in 1943-45, General Conventions have been omitted during extreme circumstances so Betas could tend to the primary needs of the brotherhood. While it was not influential during the Board of Trustees’ deliberations Monday night, we have also become encouraged to learn in the last 24 hours that many of our interfraternal peers are heading down this same path and preparing to take similar measures.
To be clear, members of the Board of Trustees take seriously their charge to protect the well-being and stability of our Fraternity. Many questions will surface, and many programmatic details must still be worked out as implications of these decisions take hold, but we have directed our Administrative Office staff to address these matters in the most professional, timely and conscientious manner possible. Our commitment to effective governance and high-quality leadership training remains a top priority, but we must be responsible and agile in this historic moment.
While this is an unfortunate but necessary move for the welfare of our brothers and the Fraternity we all love, please know you have the Board of Trustees’ and Administrative Office staff’s unwavering commitment to navigate this uncharted territory with the greatest care and concern for all.
Sincerely and yours in ___kai___,
S. Wayne Kay, Virginia Tech ’73
General Secretary and Chairman of the Board
Jeff Rundle, Kansas State ’03
P.S. While refunds are already in motion for those who have registered, further questions regarding these programs can be addressed to the assigned staff members below.
- 181st General Convention | Claire Dixon and John Underhill
- Wooden Institute | Chris Mueller
- Son of the Stars Training | Claire Dixon
P.P.S. Originally scheduled for April 2, the Beta Foundation has also postponed until further notice the Fraternity’s inaugural Giving Day Challenge, as well as extended the Sons of the Dragon Club deadline until May 31. Because most students have left campus, dri-fit polos will ship to chapters once classes resume. Graduating seniors will soon receive special instructions on how to receive their shirts.