The Downhill Slide

The Downhill Slide

In the early 1970s, the Toronto chapter was in grave danger of collapse in a way that had not been seen since the First World War.

The visible cause was a serious enrollment problem.

Although Toronto had never really sought a huge chapter (as some schools did),

there was still a basic minimum number of brothers required in order for the chapter to function effectively.

By 1972, the Toronto chapter had fallen well below that level. It was, in fact, a difficult time for all fraternities everywhere.

The relevance of the Greek system was being called into question by many university students. This was the era of Vietnam, Watergate and Kent State.

One brother who was active in the chapter at this time described the college students of the day in this manner: That whole generation was trying to forge a new start in a lot of ways.

They were very, very idealistic, a concerned generation, and fraternities, because they were associated so much with tradition and historical ways of doing things, did not fit in.

A look through The Beta Theta Pi issues from this era certainly bears him out.

In many issues, whole pages were given over to articles and letters articulating the varying viewpoints on major issues of the day.

Also, there is a clear sense that the Fraternity as a whole was struggling to hold its ground against powerful interests that wanted to give it a complete overhaul and remake.

And those were only the internal influences.

Even more powerful forces were lined up against the fraternities from without Seen as a vehicle of wealth,

privilege, and exclusivity, the Greek letter societies were consigned by many to the trash bin of history.

In fact, many colleges at this time made concerted efforts to rid themselves of fraternities altogether.

It was one of the earliest manifestations of what has since become known as “political correctness.”

Thus, the late 1960s and early 1970s produced some of the toughest times for the Greek world since its earliest beginnings.

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