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By David Minkoff ‘81

Some people say I’m crazy for becoming president of our alumni association in light of the current issues with Greek Life at Penn State; I say I would be crazy not to.  Others say, “Mink, you have already been alumni association treasurer, executive director and chapter advisor.  Isn’t that enough?”  I say, “no, it’s not.”  As I mentioned at the Founders’ Award dinner back in May, the next few years are going to be critical, not only for Beta Sig, but all fraternities.  I know the operations of the house like the palm of my hand (no comments Lichty), I already have a good relationship with the undergrads, and because of my development position with the Smeal College of Business, I am an “insider” with the University.  I think all of this will help me keep Beta Sig on the right path for years to come.  It also doesn’t hurt that I spend 60-65% of my time in State College.

For those of you who don’t know, due to the death of an undergrad the night he accepted his bid at Beta Theta Pi this past February, Penn State put a social moratorium on all fraternities and sororities for the remainder of the spring semester, made it almost impossible for spring pledging programs to continue and revoked Beta’s recognition forever.  Many other mandates came out of this which take effect this fall semester.  Here is the link to the Penn State News story that appeared on Monday, August 21st, the first day of classes:  http://news.psu.edu/story/478388/2017/08/21/administration/penn-state-greek-letter-orgs-face-change-aggressive-new   To summarize:

  1. The social moratorium remains through November 1st.
  2. There will be a fall rush, contrary to what Onward State and the Collegian reported last year.  It starts September 1st and ends September 30th, longer than normal.  It is only open to undergrads who have completed 14 or more credits and they are required to attend an educational meeting before being allowed to rush.
  3. Freshmen may attend rush events in the fall; they just cannot pledge.
  4. Pledging is six weeks long and there are three mandatory sessions that have to be taken in order to complete the program.
  5. After November 1st, three socials/parties will be permitted for the remainder of the semester.  Ten will be permitted for the spring semester.
  6. Five members of each fraternity and sorority will be RAMP certified each semester.
  7. The Greek membership fee is $90 per semester; it will be billed to the undergrads Bursar account each semester that they are an active member of their fraternity or sorority.
  8. The new rush policies are in effect for two years, not one.  After the second year, Greek Life will be re-evaluated and either spring rush-only for freshmen will continue or it will change to sophomore-only rush.

These are pretty drastic changes, and there will be challenges, but I’m confident that Beta Sig can survive them.  We have strong undergraduate leadership, and of course, the support of the best alumni of any college fraternity.  Also, due to the social restraints this fall, as well as some other reasons, the board has decided that our annual homecoming should not be held on a football weekend.  We are considering having it on a weekend that the team has an away game.  We could watch the game at the new Hyatt Place with catering by its partner restaurant, The Federal Taphouse.  The night before, a private welcoming party at Beta Sig might be possible, and if people stay until Sunday, there could be a brunch at the house as well.  I will be sending out a survey regarding this shortly to see if there is enough interest.

Another goal of mine is to find out what it would take to change the name of the Beta Alumni Association.  Of course, this name was created because we were the Beta chapter of Beta Sigma Rho.  Unfortunately, the word “Beta” does not have the best reputation right now and I feel that Beta Sigma stands for what our alumni association encompasses – a blend of Beta Sigma Rho and Beta Sigma Beta.  Stay tuned.

Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Moss Walden for the amazing job he did as alumni President the past three years.  And it wasn’t because he found places with great beer to hold our board meetings.  Within the first six months of his term, Moss had to handle a very serious issue that could have brought the fraternity down.  There were a few other difficult situations that he encountered after this, but Moss never bailed and saw each one through.  I admire him for this, as well as his “creative writing” capabilities.  Unfortunately for you, I don’t think I can live up to this.

Thank you in advance for your support.  Never hesitate to contact me if you have questions or want to offer any assistance or advice.  Best wishes for a great fall.