NU Declassified: Students speak out on living in Beta Theta Pi’s ex-fraternity house

Ilana Arougheti, Dan Hu, and Divitya Vakil

Divitya: Hello and welcome to the first episode of NU Declassified. NU Declassified is your very own look into how Wildcats thrive and survive during our time on campus. In today’s installment, we’re focused on the Beta Theta Pi house. We’re going to dive into life at the reformed Beta house, which is now a residence hall. Stay tuned. In December 2018, it was announced that the Beta Theta Pi fraternity was placed on a four-year suspension due to a violation of conduct. Afterwards, members were forced to relocate almost immediately after the suspension, leaving the house empty and brotherless. However, the house was re-opened this year for a few members of the incoming freshman and transfer class, including the members of two residential colleges: the College of Cultural and Community Studies and the GREEN House. Beta House, along with the newly reopened Jones Residential College on South Campus, were new options this quarter, and those assigned to live in these dorms had little information about their future living situations at first. On move-in day, some residents were surprised to find themselves living in the middle of the fraternity bubble.

Mina Head: Well, the only thing I knew about Beta House was that they were no longer on campus, for reasons that I’m still kind of unsure of. Honestly, my initial reaction was, “Oh my god, why am I switching schools and living in a frat? This isn’t what I signed up for!”

Ilana Arougheti: This is Mina Head, a sophomore transfer student in Medill and a Beta House resident. Greek life was never part of Mina’s plan, so she’s learning to roll with both the ups and downs of her new environment, one day at a time.

Ilana Arougheti: Did you do any research into housing before you were placed?

Mina Head: Not a whole lot. I mean, they gave us about 26 options or something like that, and I didn’t really… you know, after you get through the first ten or so, you get a little lazy, so you just start picking in terms of preferential geography and which ones don’t sound completely awful.

Ilana Arougheti: For geography, were you looking to go more North Campus or South Campus? How did you look?

Mina Head: Well, ‘cause I knew Medill was in South Campus, I basically selected every single option starting in South and then going more North.

Ilana Arougheti: So when did you find out you were going to be living all the way North?

Mina Head: Not until I received my housing assignment. But when I got my housing assignment I thought I was living in Greek life.

Ilana Arougheti: Can you talk to me a bit about move-in day? What was that like, moving into Frat Row?

Mina Head: I actually came in early, ‘cause I’m part of the University’s marching band, so I moved in by myself, with the help of my mom. It was kind of weird, nobody else was really living in the house at the time, and it – I don’t know, it seems out of place compared to the rest of Frat Row.

Ilana Arougheti: When did you arrive for marching band?

Mina Head: The fourth of September. I play trombone.

Ilana Arougheti: So were the rest of the band kids already living in their dorms? Were they mostly South, mostly North…?

Mina Head: It was kind of a mixed bag. Some of them had already moved in, others were still in the process of moving in. I’d say that they were primarily South.

Ilana Arougheti: Did that make it difficult at all for you, kind of going by yourself home back North every night after practice?

Mina Head: A little bit. Honestly, it was probably more of a burden on Wildcat Welcome weekend, because my entire PA group lived South except for me.

Ilana Arougheti: Oh, wow. At what point did others start to come and move into Beta House?

Mina Head: There was kind of a trickle in. I moved in on a Monday, and I think there was international student orientation on the Wednesday or so, so a trickle in and then the main move-in. I and my roommate, and then there’s two, two other transfers, and then the remainder of the House are all freshmen.

Ilana Arougheti: Did you expect to be living among mostly freshmen this year?

Mina Head: I didn’t know anything about my housing, except that it was a frat, until they sent an email about a month later and said, “Here’s some pictures of your room.” So I saw a vacant open area with four separate stalls that served as closets. And then bedroom with pretty standard double configuration.

Ilana Arougheti: Is living suite-style? You mentioned four closets.

Mina Head: Yeah. Well, there are like four cubbies in the wall. My roommates and I have shower curtains over ours because otherwise you can see everything inside of them.

Ilana Arougheti: So talk me a bit through what it was like after Wildcat Welcome. What is the nightlife like around you, living in Beta House, and how has that affected your routine?

Mina Head: The nightlife, it’s… it’s kind of a… kind of depends from night to night. Generally, there’s a lot of activity and people going in and out of the quad. It’s kind of weird being able to see into the two frats – I forget which ones they are – that are on adjacent to me. Definitely the activities picked up a lot in the last week.

Mina Head: It’s definitely an interesting social scene to be in.

Ilana Arougheti: Is that something that you find makes your life, like, easier? Or less easy? Or… kind of, how has that affected your day-to-day?

Mina Head: I mean, there’s not a whole lot that it really interferes with. I’d say sometimes it’s annoying to park my bike in the racks because of all the congestion. I mean, I don’t personally find a whole lot of issue with it, but I think it’s still early – too early to make a formal assessment.

Ilana Arougheti: I feel that. what’s the community like within Beta house? Like, how many kids live there, do you guys hang out in the common rooms a lot?”

Mina Head: The floors are separated by gender, so our floor — there’s only one floor with girls on it. And, I mean, I’d say that we don’t interact a whole lot as a building, but the common areas and some of the rooms are definitely utilized for socialization.

Ilana Arougheti: How does the housing situation compare to housing at your old school?

Mina Head: So, my freshman dorm was called Curtis Hall, but everybody called it “Dirty Curtie” …if you take that as you will. So I’d say, this year things are a lot better. There’s a lot more space for me. I like having the common room for sure.

Ilana Arougheti: That’s really important. Um, next year in the housing lottery, there’s a chance – because of what happened this year – that students will once again be put in dorms they never saw on the list and that they never really looked into. What would you say to students who are surprised by their assignment next year with a completely new dorm?

Mina Head: Um, I would say, at least there’s probably a worse option out there. Um, I mean, you don’t really know what to expect, and there’s only so much you can do, really, regardless of the process. Uh, so doing the best to just kind of make what you can out of the situation is good. I’d say Beta House, like, as of now, its condition is pretty, it’s pretty nice. So, I mean, I’d say I lucked out compared to some of the others I know.

Ilana Arougheti: Is there anything else you want to say about your experience in Beta House, your experience overall… just anything you want your listeners to know?

Mina Head: I’d say… “Uh, Mom, I’m in a frat now!”

Ilana Arougheti: Thanks so much for talking with us today, Mina.

Mina Head: Yeah, you’re welcome!

Divitya: While the fraternity will have a chance to reestablish itself in the spring of 2022, for now, Beta house will continue to serve as a lively home base for residents as they search for all of the places they will call home around Northwestern. For NU Declassified, I’m Divitya Vakil with Ilana Arougheti, And we’ll see you next time. Thanks for tuning in.

A previous version of this podcast incorrectly stated Imra Tajuddin’s address. She lives at 2303 Sheridan Road, which houses the Cultural and Community Studies Residential College and Green House. The Daily regrets the error.