Preserving Our Brotherhood:
A Message From General Secretary Wayne Kay
November 30, 2017
To My Undergraduate Beta Brothers and New Members,
Recently, at a Thanksgiving table surrounded by my closest friends and family, I began taking notice of the many people I have to be thankful for this year. Perhaps given the spirit of the season, you did the same. For me, there was of course my Beta Sweetheart, Susan, her mother, and other family members and friends. I also found myself offering thanks for the many men I’ve come to know through Beta. Not only the alumni who I’ve grown close to over the years, but young undergraduates like yourself.
I’m thankful that you are continuing the great traditions of Beta Theta Pi, thankful that you’re raising the bar for undergraduate men on your campus, and thankful you are able to create and share memories with your own loved ones this holiday season.
Given a rather tumultuous year for fraternities across North America, I don’t take that last part for granted. Since February, four young men from four different fraternities on four different college campuses have died, each with surrounding circumstances of hazing and alcohol abuse.
Not one of those men expected to die the last day they woke up. Not one of their brothers anticipated that their actions may contribute to the death of someone that they cared about. And when these dangerous activities started, none of the officers of those fraternities thought they could have a felony conviction on their record for the rest of their lives.
Last summer at the 178th General Convention in Salt Lake City, hundreds of Betas and guests in attendance made a shared commitment to better love and care for one another in the wake of the death of Beta new member Tim Piazza at Penn State last February. We must all remain vigilant in our commitment to eradicate hazing every day and within every chapter. This commitment must be ongoing and continually renewed within each generation of brothers.
This period between the Thanksgiving holiday and winter break is a busy one for all of our chapters and colonies. In particular, our brotherhood will grow in the coming weeks with the initiation of thousands of new Betas. It’s an exciting moment worthy of celebration, but one that should be approached with the safety of our members top of mind.
During this time, I ask that you reflect not only on the shared commitment made during the General Convention by representatives of every Beta chapter and colony (yours included), but also on the oath you took at the time of your induction – to bring honor to Beta Theta Pi in all of your actions. Please do not assume that because you have not yet met tragedy, that tragedy couldn’t find you if you open the door for it. The General Fraternity’s volunteer and staff corps remains diligent in support of our chapters, but no doubt the first and most important line of defense against a tragedy rests squarely with you – and your brothers. Please remember that seeking assistance for a brother or guest in need is certainly at the heart of your Beta obligations.
To the majority of Betas and new members who continue to do fraternity the right way – day in and day out – thank you. I hope you will continue to challenge any negative behaviors coming from within your chapter or on your campus.
I am thankful for each and every one of you and the contributions you make to our Great and Good Fraternity. Please enjoy the remainder of this holiday season – safely – with your existing and incoming brothers, and let’s enter 2018 with a renewed vigor for bettering the brotherhood we love, and this Fraternity we are all lucky enough to call home.
Yours in ___kai___,
S. Wayne Kay, Virginia Tech ’73
Beta Theta Pi General Secretary