FAQ's About Beta Epsilon

When discussing Beta Epsilon, alumni often have questions about the chapter and the Continuing The Tradition: The Campaign For Beta Epsilon fundraising effort.  Here are some of the most common questions we have received and answers to them.

 

 


Frequently Asked Questions

February 2019

Q: What are the current membership and class levels?

A: Total membership is currently 16, including Associate Members (pledges). We anticipate that new pledges and graduating seniors will result in a fall 2019 membership of 18-20.

There are currently 3 active members and 1 alumnus living in the house and 6 active members living in on-campus housing and 3 active members living in off campus housing. Class breakdown of the current membership is as follows:

Freshman: 3

Sophomore: 2

Junior: 5

Senior: 6

Q: What is the most recent Chapter GPA and how does that compare with the other living groups?

A: The Chapter GPA for the fall quarter 2018 was 2.8. For the same period, the UCD average GPA was 2.85 and the average of the IFC fraternities was 3.0.

Q: Is the Greek community a significant part of the UCD student body?

A: Based on the latest information provided by the University, sorority and fraternity life at UCD consists of 6 governing councils, 68 chapters and almost 3,000 Aggies or 9.6% of the undergraduate population. As a percentage of the total, the number of Greek-affiliated students has remained roughly constant over the years. The six councils include:

* Interfraternity Council

* Asian Sorority and Fraternity Council

* Davis Collegiate Panhellenic Association

* National Pan-Hellenic Council

* Professional Sorority and Fraternity Council

* United Sorority and Fraternity Council

Beta Epsilon is one of 19 fraternities that comprise the Interfraternity Council (IFC). Of the 9 fraternities that existed in the 1960s, only 5 remain active today, while 14 new ones have been added. IFC chapters average 33 members. It is not clear how many of the 19 have houses. Not all fraternities and sororities provide housing for their members; some provide housing only for chapter officers. Statistics as to the numbers of houses, their capacities and the rents charged are not easily ascertainable. At least one fraternity demolished and reconstructed its current house at the same location in 2012. Most other fraternities with housing occupy former residential structures. Some are on campus or near the campus and others are considerable distances from campus. Comparisons of involvement in campus leadership, athletics and other parameters among fraternities are not among the information available to us.

Q:  How do members' monthly expenses compare to alternative living arrangements at U.C. Davis?

A: Beta Epsilon members sign a 9-month lease to occupy the premises. Current rent charged by the Beta Epsilon Association is $640 per month for those living in and $66 per month for those living elsewhere. Additional fees are added by the undergraduate members to fund their social activities. The least expensive student housing apartment on campus costs $1,182 per month with no meal plan. The least expensive residence hall on campus (including a 5-day meal plan) costs $1,478 per month.  Typically, apartments require a 12-month lease.

Q: What is the Chapter’s current status with the University and how has that changed in the past 5 years?

A: As registered student organizations, sororities and fraternities are closely monitored by the University and the respective governing councils. Violations of university policies are subject to punishments ranging from probation to revocation of recognition.

In 2012, the Chapter had its status changed by the national fraternity, from Chapter to Colony, following a years-long pattern of risk management issues, including hazing, alcohol violations and inability to live out its core commitment to an Associate member philosophy for new members. The status change was part of a larger package of sanctions from the University as well. The action forced the Chapter to meet the chartering standards again, with the help of the national fraternity as a guide through a “reset” period. The process was used to reeducate the men on what it means to be a Theta Xi and enabled the Chapter to rid itself of many “bad actors”.

In August 2016 the Board of Directors adopted a policy on Human Dignity and the Use of Controlled Substances. In part, such actions were aimed at reducing the consumption of alcohol on the premises.

In November 2016, Beta Epsilon was found guilty by the IFC of violating IFC Bylaws and the City of Davis Good Neighbor Policy and sanctioned for the remainder of the academic year. Alcohol consumption was a contributing factor. The University placed the chapter on Conditional Registration through the end of the school year. In December of that year, the Board of Directors took some additional steps, assisting the Chapter in revising its Risk Management, Good Neighbor and other policies in an effort to realign the Chapter’s culture to promote the objects and purposes of Theta Xi.

After the school year ended in June 2017, when the undergraduates returned home for the summer, a visiting alumnus who had graduated two years earlier trespassed and gained access to the property and set off illegal fireworks late at night. The University, holding the chapter responsible for anything that occurs on its property, cited an unspecified “continuing pattern of behavior” that it found to be unacceptable. Its initial punishment was to revoke the Chapter’s registration as a student organization for at least a 5-year period. On appeal, it reduced the punishment to a 2-year conditional registration status. Conditional registration is tantamount to probation, which restricts the Chapter’s association with the sorority community and negatively impacts its recruiting efforts. That probation is scheduled to end in September 2019. Though the Board of Directors assisted the Chapter in its appeal, and found the final punishment to be grossly unfair to the undergraduates who played no role in the incident in question, it was helpless to do anything other than to encourage the Chapter to learn from the experience and to refocus its efforts on rebuilding its membership.

The Board acted to assist the Chapter in adopting a new vision for itself, as noted in the previous issue of the BE Line. Members who were not supportive of the new vision were asked to sever ties with the fraternity and several did so. With a reduced membership, the Board of Directors fully expects the Chapter to rebuild itself in a manner that focuses on and reflects the purpose of Theta Xi.

The Board and the Chapter believe that a new house will help its recruiting efforts in that regard. Five new members were initiated in early December 2018 and three new pledges (Associate Members) have been recruited, with more expected in January. All current active members who are not graduating are planning to live on the premises in the fall. The Board of Directors has noticed a positive change in attitude and the premises have a noticeably improved look to them. The current Chapter leadership has the full confidence of the Board of Directors.

Q: Who owns and manages the current property occupied by the Chapter?

A: The owner of the properties at 503, 509, and 515 First Street is the Beta Epsilon Association of Theta Xi, a California non-profit corporation having no capital stock. Among the purposes of the corporation is “to provide and maintain adequate housing facilities for the individual members and the Chapter activities of the Beta Epsilon Chapter of Theta Xi and of any chapter of Theta Xi which may be chartered to succeed said Beta Epsilon Chapter, and to do that so long as any active chapter shall reasonably exist.”

Membership in the corporation is limited to members in good standing of the Beta Epsilon Chapter and does not entitle any member to any actual property right in the assets; the sole and only rights accruing to members is the right to a voice in the management of its affairs as contained in the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.

The business of the corporation is controlled by an elected Board of Directors consisting of two directors who are active members of the Beta Epsilon Chapter and nine directors who are alumni members of the Chapter. Alumni Directors are elected at the annual meeting in April to 3-year staggered terms. Directors meet at the Chapter house monthly, on the first Monday after the 10th of the month. There is an agenda for each meeting and minutes are maintained. Directors do not receive compensation for services rendered. The current Board of Directors consists of:

* BE 911, Justin Schlageter, President

* BE 400, Jack Bettencourt, Vice President

* BE 411, Skip Mezger, Secretary

* BE 1137, Tim Samartino, Treasurer

* BE 161, Bob Testa

* BE 197, John Osborn

* BE 359, Phil Santucci

* BE 970, Chris Bria

* Vacancy

* BE 1275, John Eakin, Chapter President

* BE 1277, Konrad Kjarodzki, Chapter Treasurer

Q: What is the current status of the project?

A: Since the fall of 2016, the Board has been pursuing a plan aimed at restoring the Chapter to perform at historic levels to maintain an environment that, through fellowship and alumni guidance, lead to the

wholesome mental, moral, physical and spiritual growth that is the purpose of the Theta Xi Fraternity. In so doing it has:

* A fully functioning Board of Directors (with one vacancy);

* Developed a plan for a new, 3-story chapter house and have made a formal filing with the City of Davis for approval to proceed, with occupancy planned for the fall of 2020. Though at its peak, the chapter houses accommodated 55 live-in members, we determined the realistic capacity of the existing houses is 38. The new house is designed to accommodate 35 live-in members, sited on half of the existing property;

* Developed a vision for a “new, sustainable Beta Epsilon Chapter of Theta Xi”; and

* Engaged the services of outside sources to help bring the new vision and the new house to fruition, including a structural engineering firm, an architect, a historic resources management consultant, a fundraising company and legal representation.

The Board reviewed a number of alternatives before settling on the current proposal. The objectives of the proposed project are to:

* Address deficiencies in the structural integrity of the three houses used to house the undergraduate members of the Theta Xi Fraternity on First Street in Davis, CA, as identified in the report by our engineering consultant;

* Renovate the subject properties in a way that provides for the needs of UCD students by ensuring that housing is competitive both in rent and amenities available within the City of Davis, including on-campus housing, in order to ensure the sustainability of the fraternity;

* Use the value embedded in the three owned lots to assist in funding the renovation project by consolidating the housing needs of the fraternity onto a smaller footprint;

* Construct the new building with features that will allow it to achieve a high level of energy efficiency and reduce ongoing maintenance costs; and

* Continue to use the new facility as classrooms to achieve the purpose of Theta Xi.

Q: What is the cost of the project and how will it be paid for?

A: Our plan envisions a total project cost estimated to be $4.3 million, to be financed by a construction loan, to be rolled into a mortgage, a capital campaign to grow the Building Fund and the sale of roughly half of the current property. The cost estimate will be refined once we have city approval to proceed and develop construction drawings that will enable a more precise estimate. We envision an equal distribution of costs among the three sources of funding: alumni donations, sale of property surplus to our needs, and a mortgage. A shortfall in either our donation goal ($1.5 million) or proceeds from the sale of surplus property (hoped for $1.5 million) would result in a higher mortgage.

We plan to use 70-75% of the cost to occupy a double occupancy student housing apartment on campus, as published by UCD Student Housing, as the benchmark to set the initial rent due the Association for the new structure. Based on UCD’s 2016-17 UCD Student Housing Fee Schedule, the initial rent would be between about $770-825 per month for 9-months.

Our goal is to become debt free within 5 years of completion of construction. The ProForma we have prepared suggests that rent combined with donations and other income should be sufficient to provide operating funds for annually recurring expenses such as taxes, insurance, management, utilities, debt servicing, janitorial services and transfers to the Building and Scholarship Funds. We envision that the Building Fund will be used for debt reduction and the repair and replacement of the major components of the property. We envision that the Scholarship Fund will be expanded to increase significantly the size of scholarship awards. Once the overall cost of the project becomes clear and the amount of donations resulting from the capital campaign are realized, it is anticipated that rent can be reduced and donations to the Scholarship Fund can be increased, perhaps substantially.

Among the assumptions we have used is a total membership of 60, a mandatory live-in requirement to assure full occupancy, rent to be established at about 70-75% of the cost of on-campus housing charged by the University, a construction loan from the First Northern Bank at a floating rate of Wall Street Journal Prime +1%, and a 25-year mortgage based on the 5-Year Constant Maturity Treasury Index +2.85% with prepayment provisions that would enable up to 20% of the principal to be paid per year without penalty.

Q: What is the status of the fundraising efforts?

A: As of the end of January 2019, 112 alumni members have made written commitments pledging $962,224 to the project. Of that total, $293,355 has been received by the Theta Xi Foundation’s Beta Epsilon Education Account and $218,857 has been received by the Beta Epsilon Association’s Building Fund. Pledges are generally made over a 5-year period. Monies contributed to the Theta Xi Foundation are tax-deductible to the donor and can only be used for the educational aspects of the project which we estimate will be about 36% of the total cost. Such monies will only be available to the Board of Directors after regulatory approvals are received and construction drawings are prepared. Monies contributed to the Association’s Building Fund provide greater cash flow flexibility to the Board of Directors and are available to meet current ongoing project costs.

Q: How can I contribute?

A: We have set up two options for gifts, depending on whether the donor wishes to take advantage of tax deductions offered by the IRS in filing their income tax returns. For those who may no longer itemize their deductions on their income tax return and instead take the new standard deduction when filing their returns, our preference is that their contribution go to the Beta Epsilon Association Building Fund because that fund provides the greatest flexibility to the Board of Directors in terms of accessing the funds and put them to their intended purpose of building the house. The other option is to direct your gift to the national fraternity's Theta Xi Foundation and its Beta Epsilon Chapter Education Account. As a charitable foundation, those funds can only be used for the "educational" aspects of a new house, such as libraries and study rooms, based on IRS guidelines. For us to access those funds, the Board of Directors must apply for a grant, accompanied by certification by a tax lawyer that the funds will be used for educational purposes. At this time, our tax lawyer estimates that roughly 36% of the total project cost will qualify as educational expenses. The actual number must await completion of construction drawings, which won't begin to be prepared until we have City of Davis approval to proceed. This also means we cannot access those contributions (to the Theta Xi Foundation) until we have those construction drawings in hand. So, the only source of accessible funds available to the Board at this time to pay for the costs already being incurred (architect, City of Davis fees, etc.) are those contributed to the Beta Epsilon Association Building Fund. That's why our preference is for donations to be made to the Building Fund. Moneys donated to either fund ultimately will be used for the same purpose-- building a new house. But, the Building Fund is the only source readily available. Pledges and donations thus far are running approximately 52% to the Theta Xi Foundation and 48% to the Building Fund. We expect and hope that most future pledges and donations will go to the Building Fund, and recent changes to the tax law may help us in that regard.

All gifts should be designated either for the Beta Epsilon Association Building Fund (preferred) or the Theta Xi Foundation, Beta Epsilon Chapter Education Account, and mailed to:

Theta Xi, University of California-Davis

Payment Processing

P.O. Box 2187

Columbus, GA 31902-2187

Q: Has the Board received City of Davis approval to proceed and what happens to the funds raised if the City withholds its approval?

A: We filed our application with the City in February 2018. After an internal staff review and several informal meetings with City officials, the City approved in November 2018 the hiring of an outside consultant (at our expense) to do an environmental impact report focused on the historic nature of the existing structures. We have been advised that the City Council’s decision on our entitlement to proceed should be made not later than November 2019.

If approval to demolish the two historic structures is withheld, our option would be to renovate the existing structures and the funds raised would be dedicated to that purpose. It likely would be significantly more expensive to renovate the three existing houses and we would be unable to extract value from the existing property unless we sold one or two of the three lots. The capacity of the original TX House is 16 beds. Bryson’s capacity is 13 beds and Jackson’s is 9 beds. Because of their historic nature, any renovations would need to comply with federal guidelines for renovating historic structures.

Q: What happens to the Association’s assets should the chapter cease to exist?

A: In the event that the Chapter becomes nonexistent, the Board of Directors may find it expedient to dissolve the nonprofit corporation. After discharging its debts, any remaining funds are to be conveyed to a Section 501(C) (2), (3), (7), or (9) charitable organization as defined in the Internal Revenue Code.

Q: Has the Association considered other models for redevelopment to provide improved housing for the BE chapter (for example having a house that accommodates fewer men living in smaller investment) but has a large membership that rotates members through live in status)? If so what are they?

A: The Board of Directors considered a number of alternatives to provide improved housing for the Chapter, including relocation to on-campus housing or alternative off-campus housing, renovating the existing structures, constructing a one story “connector” between the Jackson and Bryson houses, and demolishing Jackson & Bryson and constructing a new, smaller two-story house to supplement the existing TX house. Among the critical factors guiding the decision to construct the proposed new 3-story house is the need to extract value from the existing property to help fund the project, the City’s likely disapproval of any proposal to replace the existing houses with any two story structure, the lack of availability of alternative sites in proximity to the campus, the challenges faced with attempting to

relocate on-campus, and the ability to be competitive with alternative housing available within the City. The Board did not specifically consider downsizing to the original TX House with a maximum live-in capacity of 16.

Q: What are Association plans for securing a Chapter faculty advisor(or other mentor) to help promote and monitor values for social and intellectual growth and respect for the physical facilities(for example, has the Association considered hiring someone to take on this role temporarily or permanently)?

A: A new effort has been initiated by the national fraternity to recruit a chapter advisor and supporting advisory board members. The Chapter’s needs will be best met through individuals who can offer regular contact on day to day issues. Ideally the effort will identify Theta Xi brothers who would serve through the end of the current advisory term (July 2020) and would either remain in their role or assist in the transition to new advisors for the next two year term. The fraternity will not limit its search to Beta Epsilon alumni. The effort is being led by Bernie Lemoine, the Director of Education for Theta Xi. He has been working closely with the Chapter this academic year and will have the support of everyone at HQ and the Board of Directors of the Association.

Q: What are the current Beta Epsilon, Theta Xi national and UC Davis polices and regulations for use of alcohol and other legal drugs on Beta Epsilon chapter property and what are the ramifications of these for liability concerns?

A: UCD strives to maintain a campus free from the illegal use, possession or distribution of controlled substances. All state laws regarding alcohol and drug use apply on campus. All drugs made illegal by state and federal law are also prohibited by University policy. The National Fraternity’s Risk Management Policy and the Chapter’s Risk Management Policy also address the issue of alcohol and drugs. The Board of Directors’ policy on “Human Dignity and the Use of Controlled Substances at Theta Xi” augments University and national fraternity policies.

Limited and responsible consumption of alcohol is permitted on Association property by those aged 21 and over within the bedroom areas of the property at any time. Alcohol in the individual designated living space is for personal consumption only; not distribution to others. In addition, limited and responsible consumption of alcohol is permitted in other areas of Association property or at chapter-sponsored events by those aged 21 and over when authorized in advance by the Association Board of Directors. Alcohol is prohibited elsewhere on Association property. Any violation of Association policy regarding alcohol and controlled substance use is subject to disciplinary action; individuals are subject to penalties ranging from warnings to cancellation of any residential or use agreement and termination of membership in Theta Xi.