We expect you'll check out the whole website anyway but here's some information on the most common concerns parents have. Some of this is very blunt talk but, given the legal situation fraternities are in these days, we hope you'll pardon us for speaking plainly.
Joining a fraternity is a mutual selection process that occurs mostly during fall and spring "rush" so that candidates can be assembled for education and initiation together. We encourage potential members to visit several houses before deciding which they are the most comfortable with. We would rather be chosen from among alternatives than out of ignorance.
If your son is the brother, son, or nephew of a Teke somewhere, of course we'd appreciate it if he'd come by so we can get to know him and vice versa. However, being a legacy does not in any way affect his prospects of getting a bid from the Chapter just as it does not obligate a legacy to pledge the Chapter if he's invited.
TKE is an enormously diverse fraternity in North America and each given chapter changes over time. Pledging remains a mutual selection process based primarily on compatibility.
Moving into the Chapter House (or not)
Almost all members live in the Chapter House, which is an integral part of being a Teke at Georgia Tech. If your son is moving from off campus housing or from home, then he could move in the semester after his initiation if his grades are good enough.
However, most freshmen sign a year-long, site-unseen agreement ahead of time to live in a freshman dormitory and, since Tech's Aux Services has a lot of debt to pay off, they aren't going to let your son out of it for notice and forfeiture of deposit. He's trapped until they're done with him. So most members now move in as sophomores and remain until they graduate.
On the other hand, if a member lives at home or off campus, it's OK if he remains there. He will have to pay what's commonly called a "parlor fee" or, in our case "out of house rent", because all members are obligated to pay at some level to support the maintenance of our facilities.
Room changes occur over breaks. Sometimes members make arrangements with the (soon to be) former occupants of their rooms to move some things in early. This is an agreement between occupants of rooms and not a Chapter matter.
We recognize that a high GPA is not the sole measure of one's success in college and that most of the truly valuable things learned do not show up in that number. Also, some people's life plans or priorities don't put academics at the level needed to maintain that 4.0 GPA in college that everyone had in high school.
If it's your son's first time away from home, without that daily accountabilty to teachers and parents, those priorities may veer significantly from academics for a while before he learns to handle his new-found freedom.
In the end, scholarship at Tech does not come down often to "book smarts" because everyone here is smart that way. Problems occur because students make poor choices about the use of their time or they don't know how to study effectively, probably because they never had to in high school. At Tech, nobody is going to enforce a curfew on your son and, although we can require that he spend hours in "mandatory study hall", we can't make him use the time to study effectively.
However, graduating from Georgia Tech is an integral part of the TKE Beta-Pi experience. We want all Tekes to be academically eligible to represent the Chapter in any event and no member to be told to leave Georgia Tech for academic reasons.
Our approach is to make information and resources available, provide a range of incentives, and then count on individuals to behave in their own best interest. Therefore, we give information and coaching on time management and study skills during candidacy.
We also maintain a large file of old tests and notes, financial incentives for excellence in scholarship, and (as a last resort) loss of housing privileges for members who don't appear to be making satisfactory progress toward graduation.
Financially, basically, we operate as a small not-for-profit corporation with alumni oversight of our finances to make sure the Chapter doesn't pile up debt or receivables.
All members sign a contract in which they agree to pay their bills and also for any damage they cause to the property.
The Chapter makes it as easy as we can for each member to know exactly what he owes, for what he's paying, when payment is due, and what the penalities are for late payment of failure to pay. If you want this information and your son isn't providing it to you, you can write the treasurer, cryso "at" betapitke.org and he will furnish the information.
A member may specify that his paper bills be sent home if he'd like. We can show him how to do this. He and his parents can also check the status of his account on-line at any time and pay his bills on-line. He only needs to give his parents his account number and PIN. Payment can be by check or by credit or debit card through the post, the web, or by phone. More details are available at the site of our receivables service.
Members may pay as they go along each semester according to percentages and deadlines set forth in our by-laws. They and their parents can see these on bills and through on-line account access. We charge late fees when amouts are overdue and we use a collection agent to deal with people that are significantly overdue.
Candidates that de-pledge generally have their bills pro-rated according to the date they notified the Chapter or vice-versa.
We realize that, for many members, going to college represent the first time in their lives that they have such wide-ranging control over their personal finances. Although we try to make everything as plain as possible, some people make bad choices anyway and then later claim ignorance or lack of notice. TKE does not consider those excuses valid and we appreciate your cooperation in encouraging your son to budget and monitor his spending.
Pay first for where you live and eat. All else, including school, comes after this. (TKE does not give free rent or food so members can attend school.)
TKE and our Chapter do not require, formally or informally, that a person
engage in any activity that is illegal or dangerous or that the person
considers immoral or against his convictions as a condition of gaining,
maintaining, or claming any advantage of membership. There are safeguards
in place in the organization to monitor treatment of candidates and, at
no point during candidature or initiation, will your son be out of contact
with you or prohibited from speaking with you as a matter of policy.
Privacy vs. Secrecy
William Wilson put it well way back in 1907...
"We believe in secretism in so far as it enables a fraternity to protect the confidence of the brotherhood. Secrecy that is promoted for selfish purposes or utilized to cloak fraternal wrong-doings we unsparingly condemn. We uphold this policy in so far as it is necessary to insure the dignity of our ritualism and the privacy of our internal affairs. As secrecy is employed to protect and perpetuate the sanctity of the family relation, so we enlist the advantage of secrecy to preserve inviolate the confidences and sanctities of the brotherhood."
This level of "secretism" today we would simply call "privacy". Our rituals are private. What is said in our meetings and during certain candidate and initiate activities is private. However, they are not secret. You are free to ask and your son is free to share with you the nature and general content of any activity that is part of Teke life so long as he does not reveal anything personal that was said by any participant under an assumption of confidence.
There are exceptions. No member should expect matters involving criminal conduct or behavior unsafe to anyone to be placed "off limits" simply because he mentioned it during a private event and, if something said in privacy could bear later on the safety of someone or on a criminal invesitigation, that matter may be brought to the attention of appropriate authorities such as the police, the dean's office, or the counseling center.
Conduct of Members
First of all, the conduct of most members presents NO PROBLEMS WHATSOEVER for themselves, their parents, or the Chapter. Yes, we all do our share of stupid, silly things as undergrads that we hope never see the light of day. Alumni put it well when they say things like "Yeah, I sure wouldn't do that now but there was no harm done and we all turned out OK."
Truly serious incidents are rare and most problems that occur are rooted
in issues that were already present, perhaps latent, when the person arrived
at Tech. They simply emerged once the person was away from close supervision
by parents, teachers, and coaches. Here are the ones that cause headaches
for college administrators and Greek organizations:
Again, truly serious misconduct is rare and almost all members (and undergrads in general) make that transition from high school to the wider world with nothing more than a bunch of good, of sometimes hazy, memories.
Copyright © 2005-2006 The Beta-Pi
Chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity. All rights reserved. The TKE
Beta-Pi Chapter is an organization of students and alumni of the Georgia
Institute of Technology. It is not an administrative unit of Georgia Tech.
Notwithstanding any language to the contrary, nothing contained herein constitutes nor is intended to constitute an offer, inducement, promise, or contract of any kind. The data contained herein is for informational purposes only and is not represented to be error free. Any links to non-Beta-Pi TKE information are provided as a courtesy. They are not intended to nor do they constitute an endorsement by the Chapter of the linked materials.
Write: "TKE House", 159 5th Street NW, Atlanta,