(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)
(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)
(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)

The Beta Theta Pi fraternity at the U isn’t just the best in the West — it’s the best on the continent.

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The North American Interfraternity Conference awarded the group the Chapter Award for Distinction, given to the best undergraduate chapter of any fraternity in North America. The award signifies a turnaround for the house, which closed in 2010 after failing to live up to fraternity standards, according to organization’s national website.

Kevin Shields, chapter president of Beta Theta Pi, said he appreciates the recognition for his fraternity’s efforts on campus and in the Salt Lake City community.

“It’s pretty amazing that we won it,” he said. “The entire chapter is very excited about it.”

Shields said their success stems from creating a positive fraternity experience focused on leadership and academics. They’ve also become a dry house, meaning alcohol is not allowed on their premises.

“It’s all about the guys you recruit and the culture you create,” he said. “We have tried to be a positive influence since we came back. I hope we become an example for other fraternities and sororities at the U.”

Montana Martinez, a senior in philosophy, said the award surprised him because he doesn’t “normally associate fraternities with excellence.” And he’s not alone in this assumption. Fraternities across the country have been rocked by scandals, such as the racist chant performed by members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the University of Oklahoma or the suspension of Pi Kappa Alpha at Utah State after former chapter president, Ryan Wray, was recently accused of sexual abuse.

Beta Theta Pi, on the other hand, has volunteered and fundraised with the Rape Recovery Center for nearly two years. They also hosted forums on sexual assault each month this year.

Shields said their goal is to show “that fraternities can help sexual assault victims and hopefully can play a role to stop it.”

Vincent Fu, vice president of internal programming for Beta Theta Pi, said his fraternity also tries to be inclusive with other students and organizations on campus.

“Ultimately, all students need to do is just approach [a fraternity] and get to know the club with an open mind before jumping to the conclusion that they are unwelcome to non-members,” Fu said.

Shields said recruitment is open to any male on campus, and they require their members to be involved in at least one other club on campus.

Beta Theta Pi won the Sisson Award for chapter excellence in 2013 and 2014, as well as the Knox award — the highest chapter award in the national organization. They also received the 2014 #iAspire Grant, winning $3,200 to continue raising awareness about sexual assaults.

k.ehmann@chronicle.utah.edu

@Ehmannky

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