Beta Xi Chapter was founded at University of Texas in Austin, Texas on May 12, 1902.
4,817 initiates (as of June 2018)
Texas won its independence in April 1863, and 18 months later a bill was introduced in the Congress of the Republic of Texas to incorporate the University of Texas. However, the act that finally established the university was not passed until 1881. Two years later, classes were opened in the incomplete west wing of the Old Main Building with 221 enrolled in that first class of 1883.
Only 19 years later, Kappa Kappa Gamma established its first southern chapter by granting a charter to Beta Xi on May 12, 1902. Interesting events led directly to the colonization.
In 1898, a local organization (Delta Delta Delta) was organized by a group of girls in Grace Hall. Soon male friends of this group, by this time known as Delta Zeta, advised the petitioning of Kappa, and in the spring of 1899, the group sent its first formal petition. Refusal came the following fall.
Another local, Tri Sigma, also petitioned Kappa, and it too, was refused. Matters seemed hopeless. The Fraternity did not want them and the university authorities did not want the Fraternity. Worse still, a crowd of town students who had twice petitioned Kappa and twice been refused, seemed to have finally secured a charter and were planning to enter the university. For one week, the Tri Sigmas and Delta Zetas grieved in secret, feeling that it was a Kappa charter these other girls had won, but it was Pi Beta Phi.
In the fall of 1901, the two locals joined forces and wrote to the Grand Secretary of Kappa. Petition blanks arrived late in January and were sent off the next day. This time the decision was unanimously in favor, and on May 12, 1902, Beta Xi Chapter was formally installed, followed by a grand banquet at the Driskill Hotel, the height of glory in those days.
At first, the new chapter met in a single rented room furnished with a small table, three chairs, a tiny stove, and a piano. In 1903, the first house was rented. Only active members could live there by university rule. The chapter moved six times in 19 years.
In 1920-1921, a corporation of Kappa alumnae in Texas was organized, and each member signed a note for $100, payable in 10 years. Thus, a home was bought at 2400 Rio Grande Street, and in September 1924, the Beta Xis moved in. It was in this house that the chapter became noted for its “Hedge Test”—rumor having it that if a rushee did not touch the hedge on the south side of the Kappa house with both hips as she went through, she was not “Kappa material!”
In the early 1930s, the house association of Beta Xi received its charter and notified all members of Beta Xi who had paid $25 or more to the (now) defunct Texas Association that they were automatically members of the new association. All other Beta Xis in good standing were notified that they could become members by paying $25. From then on, all new Beta Xis were asked to sign $100 notes. It is significant that there were only three treasurers of the house association in 37 years.
The house on Rio Grande could hold only 15 to 20 girls, and, because the Fraternity had agreed to 100 girls including pledges, the “Brown Lot” was purchased in the fall of 1936. The old house was sold for $15,000 in December of 1938, and the new Georgian Colonial home at 2001 University Avenue was occupied in September 1939, with room for 40. In the 1970s, 58 active members lived in the home.
At one time, additional housing space was acquired and a house just behind the main house was bought, renovated and completed in 1965. But in 1966, this annex was bought by the university, spreading far beyond its original 40 acres.
Honors and Traditions
Beta Xi made outstanding contributions to the Fraternity. Della Lawrence (Burt) was elected Grand Secretary at the 1920 Convention, and in 1922 was made the first Executive Secretary when the position was created at the Convention in Glacier National Park.
The chapter had the honor of having one of its charter members become the first president of Theta Province. In 1917, another chapter member succeeded her. Beta Xi hosted the second Province Convention in May 1927, during which the chapter celebrated its 25th anniversary. The Key Ring, the province newspaper, was begun during another member’s term as Province President, 1925-27.
A change came about with the entry of the United States in World War II. Social and campus activities were replaced with war work and defense projects. Many hours were devoted to layette sewing for the Nora Waln project, and weekly schedules included bandage rolling, hospital and nurse’s aide work, canteen duty, and assistance with bond drives. For two successive years, Beta Xi made the largest pledge of any campus organization to the War Chest.
Social and campus life returned to its customary places as the war drew to a close, but many old patterns changed. A Kappa was elected University Sweetheart at the annual Round-Up, and the introduction of touch football into the intramural program gave birth to a colorful extra-intramural private contest between Pi Phi and Kappa—the Powder Bowl.
The chapter received the Standards Cup in 1950, and Helen Knox was given the Alumnae Achievement Award for banking in 1952.
It was with great pride that the 50th anniversary of Beta Xi was celebrated in May 1952 with a riverboat ride and a picnic at Green Shores. Kappas came from far and wide, and the occasion was climaxed by a historical pageant and the presentation of fleur-de-lis pins to eight of the nine founders (charter members). For this Golden Anniversary, a Beta Xi directory was sold for $1 each. The money was used to establish the Beta Xi Scholarship Fund.
The passage of civil rights legislation during the 1960s prompted major changes on campus. In the spring of 1965, the university discontinued all control of student housing, except that which was actually owned and operated by the school. Therefore, with all sorority houses individually owned by their corporation boards, the Panhellenic Council voted in 1967 to dissolve itself as a recognized student organization, hence no longer subject to university regulations or eligible to use university facilities.
At this point, Panhellenic became incorporated. Eloise Moore Netherton and another Kappa served for many years on the seven-member board of trustees.
For more than three decades, Beta Xi had a special friend and supporter, a Gamma Lambda, Middlebury, Kappa, who was first assistant dean of women and then dean of students before her retirement. In October 1973, Beta Xi proudly presented her with her 50-year pin.
Through Kappa leadership in Panhellenic in 1971, the Referral Counseling Program was initiated in cooperation with the university and student health center. This program trained key actives, alumnae and housemothers in each sorority to be mental health resource persons, to help with chapter education, and to be equipped to refer girls to the proper sources for help with any problem.
There have been many chapter philanthropy projects. In “A Run for Their Lives,” Beta Xi met the challenge of Beta Theta Chapter, Oklahoma, in a fundraising football marathon run to the Cotton Bowl. The joint Kappa venture raised $12,000 for muscular dystrophy.
Houston-Austin area Beta Xis were active and loyal women, distinguished in many fields. One of the youngest was chosen “Outstanding Teenager in America” in 1968. She lived with families in Spain and Switzerland and served as a volunteer at San Jose Clinic as an interpreter.
Another alumna was a Lady in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, a Papal honor. Another Kappa, an artist with portraits in college libraries in three states, received the Houston Panhellenic Citation for long, outstanding service.
A Kappa alumna gave the Charlotte Barrell Ware Standards Cups in 1934, and when it was retired in 1970 because all available engraving space had filled, she replaced the original award with a beautiful sliver punch bowl, tray, ladle, and cups. She had long been a generous supporter of the Rose McGill Fund. This Kappa was the first female member of the Board of Regents of the University of Houston, and received the Matrix Award of Theta Sigma Phi (Women in Journalism). She served as mentor and president of Girlstown, USA. In 1958, she and her husband established a foundation to give financial support to medical research, education, and cultural advancement. The Fraternity awarded a silver tray to this Beta Xi alumna in 1974 as “recognition for her devotion and service to Kappa Kappa Gamma.”
The previous information was adapted from The History of Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity, 1870-1976. The information that follows has been gleaned from available resources including Chapter History Reports, chapter meeting minutes, letters and comments from chapter members and alumnae, the Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity Archives, and The Key. Each chapter is expected to update its history record annually. Contact Fraternity Headquarters at [email protected] with questions.
Beta Xi continued to prosper in the 1980s. In 1987, Kappa and other sororities on campus officially became associated with the University of Texas at Austin. Although the association brought challenges, the chapter welcomed the change. Summer Rush was always an event the Kappas eagerly anticipated, and the chapter regularly added large pledge classes of 50 or more women. Beta Xi was busy with many sisterhood activities, such as Kappa Casual in November, but also made time for events with other Panhellenic groups, including Monmouth with Pi Beta Phi and Kite and Key with Kappa Alpha Theta.
The chapter worked hard to improve its scholarship and to encourage academic excellence. “Smarties” awards were handed out at chapter meetings to recognize members who had a scholarly accomplishment. In-house sisters received Scholarship Scoops, paper ice cream scoops that were taped on the Kappa’s door, after earning a good grade. For each three scoops earned, the Kappa received a yummy treat—a certificate for ice cream! Beta Xi members were involved with a variety of activities on UT’s campus. However, many of the sisters contributed to different groups and programs within the chapter. By the 1980s, Beta Xi formed its own Kappa Pickers musical group. The sisters also focused on developing leadership skills, and in February 1989, chapter officers attended a Greek Leadership Conference.
Throughout the decade, the chapter continued to forge relations with alumnae. A picnic with local alumnae often kicked off the school year, and Founders Day was celebrated each year with alumnae. At Halloween, active members often went trick-or-treating with the children of alumna members. Beta Xi sisters worked with alumnae to implement the Alum Chum program, which paired a new member with an alumna mentor. In 1987, Beta Xi received a visit from former Fraternity President Jean Hess Wells, Georgia, who helped the sisters better appreciate the history and ritual of the Fraternity.
In 1987, Beta Xi worked to renovate the chapter’s house under the guidance of the “Building the Legacy” Committee, a group responsible for organizing and raising funds for the work. The living room was repainted and new items added to the common rooms. Two years later, in 1989, ceiling fans were installed in each room of the house, to the delight of the residents.
Beta Xi was busy with philanthropic activities in the 1980s. The chapter organized a canned food drive as well as painted the house of someone in need. In addition, the Kappas attended a casino night at a local nursing home. The chapter contributed to the Adopt-A-School program and the Helping Hands Project. Chapter women volunteered their time to serve food at the concessions stand at the Legends Golf Tournament.
In 1990, Beta Xi faced changes in the Rush schedule at UT. Instead of summer Rush, the events were held slightly later in the year and became fall Rush. Even with the changes, Kappa still proved successful each year. Chapter Council members attended a Greek Leadership Conference throughout the decade. The chapter continued to host programs to benefit members, such as talks about issues like campus safety and eating disorders and workshops on résumé writing and relaxation techniques. Beta Xi improved its relationship with the University by hosting guest lunches and study snacks for students outside the Fraternity and holding a professor lunch to recognize the outstanding faculty at UT.
Each year, Beta Xi hosted Kappa Casual and Junior/Senior Night, an evening of togetherness for the junior and senior classes before graduation. Owl-O-Ween was a popular event, as was Monmouth with Pi Phi. Mom’s Weekend and Dad’s Day brought family members to campus, and the Kappa Pickers regularly performed at the various events. These fun activities certainly promoted sisterhood as well as Panhellenic pride.
In 1990, Beta Xi received the gift of new furniture in the bedrooms of the house. The chapter members were grateful to the House Board for the new beds and dressers.
Philanthropy remained important to Beta Xi throughout the 1990s. The chapter regularly served food at the concessions at the Legends of Golf tournament to raise funds for charity. In 1990, the Kappas established the “Key to the Heart” volleyball tournament as the chapter philanthropy event. A few years later, Beta Xi began to host its annual Kappa Klassic Pool Tournament, which benefitted Children’s Shelter, a battered women’s shelter, the Austin Child Guidance Center, and the Children’s Advocacy Center throughout the years. Habitat for Humanity also became an important project for the chapter.
In 1995, the Kappas worked with Sig Ep to repair and repaint a house for an underprivileged elderly widow. The chapter women took time each year to participate in Challenger Little League, where the members coached and cheered for disabled children.
Other philanthropic activities included hosting a blood drive for Brackenridge Hospital, volunteering at Barton House Alzheimer’s Unit, donatng to a deaf community’s garage sale as well as to Goodwill, and participating in the Texas Relays tournament, an AIDS walk, and Forty Acres Fest. In 1998, Beta Xi hosted a ticket-selling fundraiser where the chapter raised over $3,000 for Blue Mist, a band comprised of blind musicians.
Beta Xi welcomed the new millennium with a variety of new chapter activities. Each year, the sisters gathered at a chapter retreat in the fall to build and restore relationships within the chapter. New sisterhood programs included television nights, a makeover with a make-up artist, a cooking class, a yoga class, manicures, and a ceramics class. To prepare for Recruitment, a Work Week was held in which the entire chapter learned new skits, practiced old songs, and perfected Recruitment strategies. A leadership workshop for the outgoing and incoming officers, and their advisers, to aid in the transition process. The Vice President-Academic Excellence work
2016 was a year characterized by strength, endurance, and evolution for Beta Xi. Still without our beloved house, the Kappas faced new challenges, bound together by friendship instead of the walls of the house itself. The campus climate was tumultuous. The chapter itself stumbled and fell on a few occasions. But as the year comes to a close, we can look back and say that in spite of all of that, we learned and we grew. We are finishing 2016 stronger, more unified, and better than when we began it. We are excited to move into our house come January! But before we transition into 2017, we want to look back and reflect on all we learned.
In January, the new Beta Xi Chapter Council was eager to continue the legacy of great leadership of past officers, as well as accomplishing new goals for out chapter. For President, Ellen Crowe served; For Vice President Standards, Anna Wittenmeyer served; For Vice President Organization, Hailey Becker served; For Vice President Academic Excellence, Erin Kreindler served; For Recording Secretary, Ali Purnell served; For Corresponding Secretary, Charlotte Paine served; For Treasurer, Payton Scott served; For Assistant Treasurer, Camille Szelc served; For Registrar, Avery Travis served; For Marshal, Hannah Love served; For Education Chairman, Caroline Smyrl served; For House Chairman, Sara Shaw served; For Membership Chairman, Riley Longtain served; For New Member Chairman, Tai Massimilian served; For Panhellenic Delegate, Alex Page served; For Philanthropy Chairman, Berkley Johnson served; For Public Relations Chairman, Kathryn Stouffer served; For Risk Management Chairman, Grace Winston served; and For Event Chairman, Mallory Morris served.
Without our trusty senior girls to guide us and without a house to meet in, Chapter Council braved the unknown and began to meet. Ellen Crowe (President) began the year with efficiency and care, planning and leading Chapter Council meetings. They finalized edits on the chapter bylaws and standing rules, educated themselves on how to use the Kappa drive and webinars, and reviewed the expectations and responsibilities of Chapter Council members with the help of Hailey Becker (VP Organization). She went over goals for the year, including chapter unity, continuing to revamp philanthropy, and getting the chapter on board with the Risk Management policies, as well as the rules and goals of Standards Committee. Chapter council discussed some ways to hold the chapter accountable for their actions at events and to reinforce new standards for behavior for everyone. We decided to change our buddy system from “bigs” and “littles,” to a “pick-a-buddy” system, where the girls signed up with a friend before events to be their accountability partner. Grace Winston bus-riding attendance at events, while Anna Wittenmyer (VP Standards) streamlined the way we approach standards decisions. Sara Shaw (House Chair) worked tirelessly alongside our House Board, as renovations plowed on. Kathryn Stouffer (Public Relations Chairman) continued to educate members about the GIN system and published yet another great issue of “Round Up”, the annual Kappa newsletter. The new leaders conducted the first few chapter meetings with thoroughness and efficiency, growing more comfortable meeting in the Student Union and in their new positions. The year started off with a bang, with an organized Chapter Council and an excited group of Kappas.
In February, Kappas were getting settled in with their classes, and the officers were beginning to get the hang of their new responsibilities: planning events, running meetings, and fulfilling their duties more easily. Berkley Johnson (Philanthropy Chair) took it upon herself to completely revamp Beta Xi’s philanthropic efforts. She continued the new partnership with the B+ Foundation that the last philanthropy chair began, combining Kappa’s passion for reading with our love of kids. We adopted a B+ Hero named Moriah, who is battling cancer, and made her an honorary “sister.” Kappas began visiting Moriah at the hospital, playing games, doing puzzles, and when she felt up to it, even having dance parties with our newest little Kappa. Mallory Morris (Event Chairman) and Grace Winston (Risk Management) pulled off a great Monmouth formal at Brazos Hall, and everyone had a wonderful time with their dates and Pi Phi friends. Riley Longtain (Membership Chairman) held a very successful first recruitment workshop with the freshman, teaching them the in’s and out’s of rush and the importance of the spring semester for recruiting. While Kappa prepared for recruitment, so did Alex Page (Panhellenic Delegate) and Grace Anne McGinnis, a Kappa who served as Vice President of UT’s Panhellenic Council. They began a wonderful year of working together and representing Kappa well to other sororities and to UPC. We rounded out the month with a visit from our moms, with fun shopping events and a brunch at The Grove downtown to celebrate Mom’s Weekend.
Then came March, another great month for Beta Xi, as the spring semester was in full swing. Hannah Love (Marshal) led a successful and efficient ritual workshop to refresh the chapter on the ritual and history of our organization. Erin Kreindler (VP Academic Excellence) continued to encourage the girls to study hard, with fun Study Snacks events like pizza catering and coffee after chapter! Riley continued to hold Rush Workshops with the freshman and the older girls to prepare for recruitment and develop a strategy to show girls what Kappa is all about, despite our lack of a house. Hailey Becker (VP Organization) worked hard to plan for the leadership consultant’s upcoming visit in April.
April was a busy month as usual for Beta Xi. Our leadership consultant, Kate Burton, came and brought some amazing ideas for our chapter with her. She hung out with our members, doing fun things around Austin and helped our officers grow in their leadership abilities. Hailey Becker (VP Organization) did an amazing job making Kate feel at home. Berkley Johnson (Philanthropy Chair) helped plan our fundraiser, Kappa Pi-Phi Carnival, complete with snow cones and live music, raising money for our philanthropy. We love joining forces with another sorority who also cares about supporting literacy, and the event was a blast as usual. She also held a successful RIF event at Wooldridge Elementary. The entire chapter came together and set up stations at the school to play games, read, decorate bookmarks, and get their faces painted. At the end of the laughter-filled event, each child took home a book (or two!). Mallory Morris (Event Chairman) planned an awesome Dad’s Weekend, with food catered on a fun rooftop venue and the chapter attending the Spring football game with their dads. She and Grace Winston (Risk Management) also planned another successful event with our friends in Theta, called Kite & Key. The event was held at a venue downtown and everyone had a wonderful time. A senior Kappa, Kallen Dimitroff ran for Student Body President of the University of Texas, and despite her campaign’s loss, it was incredible to see the whole chapter gather around her and support her with pride.
Kappa events slowed and finals approached, as May rolled around. Caroline Smyrl (Education Chairman) conducted Senior Sendoff, a fun event after chapter where we recognize the seniors and hear funny memories from years past, including poems and “twinkies” from some seniors’ parents. These very seniors then became alums after graduation celebrations, and it was made official in Key Reports. Some of them got into top graduate schools to continue their studies, while others headed off to work in cities around the country. They were off into the world! Payton Scott (Treasurer) worked hard to set up the budget for the upcoming school year, and held budget meetings with all of the Chapter Council officers. Tai Massimilian (New Member Chairman) and Riley Longtain (Membership Chairman) both worked hard to prepare for recruitment and the new pledge class coming in August, with the added challenge of finding a home for Spirit and Recruitment weeks without our house. We talked to event halls and fraternity houses, and we finally found a place to hold the events and welcome our new members…stay tuned below! Riley also held the last recruitment workshop and began planning for the summer with her incredible team. The girls in dorms, apartments, and houses packed their bags and headed out of Austin, waving goodbye to this school year.
Over the summer, Kappa sisters spread out across the globe for internships, jobs, and study abroad programs. From Spain, to New York, to Paris, to Dallas and Houston and Galveston, to all the way in Australia, Kappas took the world by storm. But the months flew by, as summer always does, and came to a close. By August, everyone was ready to get back to their Kappa friends, to Austin, and to the University of Texas.
But unlike years past, when Kappas ran into our house on University Avenue to prepare for recruitment, this year we ran into…the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house, another temporary home! The SAE fraternity boys kindly let us borrow their conveniently located house for a few weeks. And as we did with the Union, we turned the SAE house into a home. Kappa seems to have an uncanny knack of making anywhere feel like a loving home. It could be a room in the Student Union, a study abroad dorm, a cramped apartment full of Kappas working in New York city, or a fraternity house, but if Kappas are together, it feels like home. It is definitely a skill we are proud of!
Riley Longtain (Recruitment Chair) and her team’s hard work over the past semester culminated at the end of August. Spirit week was a blast, and the chapter’s hard work during a long week of recruiting paid off when 68 awesome new members came running to the Littlefield fountain on campus, to be welcomed by our chapter with open arms. The stresses of a long Recruitment and being without a real home took a toll on the chapter, however. Our chapter stumbled on Bid Night with some behavioral issues that we know are unacceptable. Ellen Crowe (President) and the Chapter Council quickly jumped into action, taking ownership of our mistakes and trying to get the chapter back on track. We would have been lost without the fearless leadership of Ellen, the patience of Anna Wittenmyer (VP Standards), the planning of Hailey Becker (VP Organization), and the maturity of Tai Massimillian (New Member Chairman). We knew there would be consequences and this would be a long road ahead, but we also knew that changes that needed to occur. We were nervous but excited for how our chapter would evolve because of this challenge.
In spite of the chaos, September rolled around, and the Kappas were back. With a crazy Longhorn football win against Notre Dame, we began our classes with excitement and our horns up high! We continued holding chapter meetings in the Student Union, our temporary home. The first meeting ran smoothly as chapter council got back in the swing of things, and the new members learned the ins and outs of their new chapter. Following the events of Bid Day, we were visited by Emily Murdock and Illiana Garcia, our Theta District director and specialist. They helped our Chapter Council remember the “why?” of our chapter, as well as realign the goals of Beta Xi with that of the national organization. They inspired our leaders to be better and to lead our chapter out of this slump. They began helping us build a strategic plan to improve our chapter and help us rectify the mistakes of the weeks prior. Weeks passed, with the first formal meeting held by Hannah Love (Marshal) and program nights like the one featuring Shannon Moody, where we learned about the Jeremiah Project, a center for single mothers, organized by Caroline Smyrl (Fraternity Education Chairman). Hailey Becker (VP Organization) revamped committee nights, helping each committee set goals for the semester. We also had an exciting visit from the Fraternity President Beth Black, held at an alumni’s house in Austin. It was incredible for some of our officers to meet such an inspiring leader of the organization that we love so much. Erin Kreindler (VP Academic Excellence) was happy to report that 13 of our chapter members received 4.0 GPA’s in the spring, and the chapter’s cumulative GPA was 3.47, as the grade report came in. Kappa competed in the second annual Greek Get Down dance competition—and though we didn’t place like we did last year, we had so much fun dancing! Much of the team was made up of our new members, so it was a great way for freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors to all get to know one another. Mallory Morris (Event Chairman) organized our first fun event, Kappa Kidnap, at a dance hall outside of Austin. With cowboy boots and dresses on, the Kappas danced the night away to country music from a live band. Soon enough the semester was in full swing.
October was yet another busy month for Beta Xi. The TX-OU football game was a blast, even though our beloved Longhorns lost. Mallory Morris (Event Chairman) planned a fun date event with Tri-Delt, and ended the month with our traditional Halloween dance, called Owl-o-ween, with Chi Omega. We absolutely love doing events with our friends in other sororities! But double the girls, means double the amount of people trying to safely get home. Despite some bumps in the road in our risk management policies in the past, Grace Winston (Risk Management Chair) and Anna Wittenmyer (VP Standards) did an amazing job encouraging everyone to follow our policies. The buddy system became more successful as the semester went on, and as well as bus riding attendance. Hannah Love (Marshal) did a stellar job planning and executing Initiation, in our second year without a house. Initiation was held in a different church than the year before, but Hannah was calm in the face of chaos, and the event ran as smoothly as ever. The newly initiated members had a wonderful morning, and afterwards joined their parents and friends for a fun brunch at Hotel Ella near campus. Caroline Smyrl (Fraternity Education Chairman) did an outstanding job planning Founder’s Day. The event was held at AT&T Conference Center. Actives and alumnae alike enjoyed stories from alums, songs from the Kappa pickers, and a presentation by the House Board, who has worked so hard on the house renovations. Hannah Love (Marshal), Kaki Miller (Key Sis Chair), and Tai Massimilian (New Member Chairman) worked together to organize a “Big Sis, Little Sis” event with photos by the University Tower, then on to fun event at a trampoline park! Avery Travis (Registrar) planned composites, and the Kappas “smiled pretty” for their photos. Avery coordinated with the same company from the year before to have composites taken in the Union. Our temporary home at the Union was really starting to feel like ours own—we had taken over! Many chapter members said they will actually miss our makeshift Union “house.”
In November the semester was quickly wrapping up. Mallory Morris (Event Chairman) did a great job planning a fun parent’s weekend and a Kappa Kasual, our last event of the semester. The event was held at Cedar Street Courtyard downtown, with a fun live band. Then came the tumultuous 2016 Presidential Election that divided our campus. Kappas went out and voted for their choice, but our nation was not the only thing that was struggling to unify in the face of adversity. Ellen and the officers continued to edit and work on the Strategic Plan for upcoming year. With Ellen’s great vision and the help of the national organization itself, our specialists and the chapter members, we were able to construct a plan that would allow Kappa to grow in the coming years. Avery Travis (Registrar) was elected slate chairman, and worked extremely hard to conduct meetings with her dedicated and passionate slate committee to nominate the officers for next year. This year was tougher than ever, with so many great candidates stepping up for officer positions. The Slate Committee knew how important these choices were, considering the issues from Bid Day, the strategic plan, and the new trajectory that Kappa was on—in order to improve and come back stronger. The committee worked hard to pick the best possible girls for the chapter council of 2017. The committee gave the slate presentation at meeting in November, and officer transitions began quickly after, and the new and old Chapter Councils began working together. As usual, Kappas were able to come together to create a unified group of sisterhood and friendship.
November turned quickly into December, with only one week in between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks for some girls. Hailey Becker (VP Organization) planned a wonderful Leadership Day at a delcicious restaurant, where the new and old officers can get together with their advisors and go over the expectations and goals for the upcoming year. Our chapter worked hard to get through final exams and the end of the semester, with Erin Kreindler (VP Academic Excellance) planning yummy Study Snack events throughout the weeks of finals! The Kappas wrapped up a long but fun year. 2016 was a challenging but incredible year for growth for the Beta Xi chapter. Despite challenges from the house renovation, the political and campus climate, and our own behavioral issues and changes, our chapter grew stronger and closer than ever, evolving to become the best chapter we can be. We cannot wait to move into our beautiful new home, and we look forward to taking on 2017, equipped with everything we have learned and the goals we plan to accomplish in the next year!
Describe the recent changes on your campus and describe the overall nature of your chapter.
Campus climate was tense in 2016, as it was much of the world. Yet another Student Government election occurred on campus in the Spring, this time with a Beta Xi running for office. Racial tensions and a new campus carry law caused protests and fractured our student body. The year culminated in one of the most controversial Presidential Elections ever, occurring in November. Our own chapter faced some of the biggest pitfalls and hardships we have ever faced. We lost loved ones and made mistakes. But through all of this, Beta Xi Kappa persevered together. We stood up for our beliefs and for each other, admitted our faults, and grew into a stronger chapter. Our chapter is well known at the University of Texas for being involved in and well liked by all groups on campus. Kappas are friendly, open-minded, intelligent and active in university life. Kappas are so well integrated and involved in our diverse on-campus commitments, that our main goal in 2016 was to increase Beta Xi chapter unity. In spite of a rocky campus climate and our own troubles within Beta Xi, we hoped to increase the bond of sisterhood in our chapter. Doing so without a home during the house renovations proved to be a challenge, but our chapter did a great job finding ways to unite, around causes like our philanthropy and each other’s successes. Chapter Philanthropy: What organization(s) has your chapter historically/traditionally raised money for, or donated hours to, in your community? Wooldrige Elementary, RIF, B+ Foundation (new this year)
This year, Berkley Johnson (Philanthropy Chair) completely revamped and re-energized our philanthropic efforts. Kappa adopted another philanthropy in addition to Reading Is Fundamental. The B+ Foundation raises money for cancer research and pairs sororities and fraternities nationwide with a “Hero:” a child battling cancer. We were paired with our Hero, Moriah. She is an eight-year-old girl with cancer, and the newest and youngest Beta Xi Kappa ever! She gets to wear our letters, come to some fun events, and be a part of our Kappa family. Beta Xi embraced our newest sister with love and pride. Kappas made visits to her at the hospital, had her over to our apartments, took her to Mozart’s Coffee Shop to see Christmas lights, made her a scrapbook and battled her disease alongside her. And we are thrilled to report that her cancer is in remission! We hoped to be a light in Moriah’s life this year…but it turns out that Moriah remained a shining light for our chapter, uniting us in some of our hardest seasons.
We remained passionate about encouraging childhood reading, as well! From profit shares organized by chapter members to a book drive to our annual fundraiser, we definitely did not let our passion for this issue fall by the wayside. We have a great relationship with Wooldridge Elementary where we have our annual RIF event every spring for the whole chapter. This year, Berkley added an event there in the fall, as well! Half the chapter volunteered at the elementary school on a Saturday, while the other half gave their time to Neighborhood Longhorns tutoring program.
While we await the opening of our newly renovated house on University Avenue, we have been renting rooms in the UT Union building for chapter meetings and for our chapter lunches. It is usually a large meeting room with screens and dining space in the back.
Oral History Are there any current members, alumnae or advisers from your chapter that you recommend for the Fraternity’s oral history project? We are looking for Kappas with stories to tell – funny chapter memories, great professional achievement stories, heartwarming stories of how Kappa has helped them, etc.
Kathryn Stouffer, current member, outgoing PR Chair Sarah Shaw, current member, outgoing House Chair Tricia Cury, former president and recent alum Chandler Foster, recent alum Hannah Meehan, Beta Xi Chapter Council advisor
The Beta Xi Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma had an excellent year of growth and bonding in 2017. In January, a new group of Chapter Council members began meeting and carrying on the legacy of excellent, cooperative leadership our chapter has had in recent years. Hannah Love was President, Tai Massimilian was VP Standards, Kaki Miller was VP Organization, Payton Scott was VP Academic Excellence, Lauren Fisher was Recording Secretary, Emily Parnell was Corresponding Secretary, Cameron Shepherd was Membership Chairman, Sarah Gregory was New Member Chairman, Camille Szelc was Treasurer, Jennifer Harbour was Assistant Treasurer, Emma Riddle was Philanthropy Chairman, Hallie Smith was Event Chairman, Caroline Smyrl was Registrar, Grace Winston was House Chairman, Charlotte Fitzpatrick was Marshal, Audrey Halbrook was Risk Management Chairman, Regan Ewing was Panhellenic Delegate, Tessa Lauritzen was the Public Relations Chairman, and Allison Ainsworth was Education Chairman. 2017’s Chapter Council has worked tremendously hard to implement our strategic plan to get our chapter back in good standing with both Kappa nationals and the university. By far the most exciting thing for our chapter in 2017 has been being able to be back in our newly remodeled house! We have been so grateful for the Beta Xi House Board and all the time, money, energy, and thought that they put into the plans to remodel our historic chapter house. Before the beginning of school, the House Board hosted an open house for alumnae, donors, families, and members to view the amazing changes to the house. It was such a special time for Beta Xi members of all ages to come together and share in the excitement of the opening. The very next day, active members moved in, and the house immediately sprang to life. It has been such a blessing for the chapter to have a common meeting grounds again and to share meals together, study together, and have our meetings as a chapter in the house. Also in January, Hannah (President) began Chapter Council meetings by having all of Chapter Council read the Strategic Plan for our chapter’s Warning of Probation and review the goals and calendar we had set for the semester. Some of our goals included improvement in chapter management, recruitment, new member experience and programming, standards and risk management, and panhellenic leadership. Hannah also scheduled and coordinated a meeting between Chapter Council and Katherine Latta, our Leadership Development specialist, for a Strategic Plan workshop and a discussion over Start With Why , a book that all of Chapter Council had read over Christmas break. During our first Chapter meeting of the semester, Hannah went over the strategic plan, emphasizing its importance for all members, and reading our Chapter Mission Statement. Tai (VPS) also went over standards behavioral expectations during the first meeting and also held elections for the new Standards Committee members. Grace (House Chair) organized an Orientation for the in-house girls from House Board to explain the rules and organization of the house. Grace and Tai also gave a presentation to the chapter during the first meeting about respecting our newly remodeled house. Cameron (Membership Chair) also held a workshop for the freshmen on a Sunday at the end of the month to teach them the ins and outs of recruitment on the other side and to emphasize the importance of our strategic goals for the recruitment process. February began with a visit from our Leadership Consultant, Maddy. Kaki (VPO) organized a great week in Austin for her, and chapter council enjoyed spending time with her at the house and meeting with her individually to discuss ways to improve each office. Hallie (Event Chair) and Audrey (Risk Management) planned a great Monmouth formal with the Pi Phis at Palm Door. Everyone had a great night with their dates, dancing with the band all night and taking pictures in the photo booth. Emily (Corresponding Secretary) also gave a presentation to the chapter on the GIN system, which the officers have been using more effectively throughout the year to communicate information to the chapter. Sarah (New Member) also finalized the plans for the new member bid day retreat in the Fall, which was something that our chapter had never done before. She did an excellent job planning and communicating to Chapter Council, and Reagan (Panhellenic) discussed our exciting plans with other chapters, who followed Kappas lead in implementing an off-campus retreat in their bid day plans rather than releasing the girls after midnight. March was another exciting month for Beta Xi with lots of events and activities for our actives to all bond. Cameron (Membership) hosted another recruitment workshop for the freshmen where she began to teach them the songs and dances. Her and her team began to familiarize the freshmen with more details of recruitment week. They also met with the newly appointed area assistant to develop strategies. In the middle of the month, the doors of Kappa locked and the chapter dispersed across the country and the world for a fun-filled Spring Break! As soon as everyone returned from their trips, Emma (Philanthropy) began getting everyone excited for the upcoming philanthropy opportunities. In the week after Spring Break, she encouraged the entire chapter to get their families and friends to participate in the B+ Campaign. The campaign was a campus-wide competition before the Round Up weekend, and Kappa proudly raised around $4,000. Emma also planned our annual Pi Phi Kappa Karnival event, hosted at the Pi Phi house with live music, snow cones, face painting, and a petting zoo. Beta Xi raised $6,000 from Karnival to donate to RIF! During April, we said goodbye to our house mom, Ms. Judi. We are so grateful for the years she spent making sure the Beta Xi house felt like a home for all the members. Hallie (Events) wrapped up the month by planning an awesome Dad’s Weekend. The chapter enjoyed dinner with their dad’s at Dirty Martin’s on Friday, and the next day everyone got to enjoy a tour of the Kappa house and a private tour of the Darrell K. Royal Memorial Football Stadium! We also had very productive chapter meetings during March. In fulfillment of our probation terms with the University, we had an informative and interactive alcohol awareness presentation from University Health Services. Although it was a required program, the entire chapter found it interesting and helpful to understand the best way to socialize responsible in a college environment. Kaki (VPO) also continued to work on making Committee Chapter Meetings a fun way for every member to feel like they contribute to our chapter. She restructured the Committee Night schedule to make sure that committees completed their agendas. In April, the semester was in full swing and we had another great month for Beta Xi. At the beginning of the month, we welcomed our new house mom, Ms. Sherri to the Beta Xi house! We have loved the life, love and warmth she has brought to her house with her constant cheeriness and famous shortbread. Nicole Covert, our Recruitment Advisor, received the award for Outstanding Advisor from University Fraternity and Sorority Life. Nicole is more than deserving of this award. Not only does she put in countless hours of work for our chapter, but she is an outstanding mom, friend, and volunteer. We are so proud and thankful to have her as part of our amazing advisory board! Tessa (PR) also planned an Easter Party at the Kappa house, with an Easter egg hunt, cookie decorating, pictures, and more fun. Hallie (Event Chair) planned two great events during April. We had another fun semi-formal, Kite and Key, with Theta at the Summit. She also planned an awesome Mom’s Weekend, with a shopping event at Adelante on Friday, a dinner at Max’s, and brunch at the house on Saturday. Cameron (Membership) closed out the month with a chapter-wide recruitment workshop, the last workshop of the semester. In accordance with our Strategic Plan, the recruitment team updated the members on Panhellenic and Kappa Nationals rules In May, things at the Beta Xi house started to quiet down as all the members began to prepare for their finals and the semester came to an end. Before everyone dispersed for the summer. Allison (Education) conducted the Senior Sendoff, a humorous and sentimental event where the seniors get to share funny memories from their college years and share what their next chapter has in store for them as they leave UT and Kappa. The Alumnae Board also gave a presentation to the seniors to tell them about the opportunities the Kappa alumnae network has for them. Caroline (Registrar) also put them on alumnae status on Key Reports. Chapter Council ended the spring by setting goals and preparing for the upcoming semester. Grace (House) worked with the Sophomores to get roommate requests for the upcoming year. Sarah (New Member) and Cameron (Membership) continued to make plans for recruiting new members and making their experience in Kappa the best ever. Over the summer, the members of Beta Xi parted ways for summer school, internships, and study abroad experiences. Tessa (PR) collected photos from all the different adventures to post on our chapter’s Tumblr, Instagram, and other social media accounts. Cameron, her team, and the area assistants worked extremely hard all summer to prepare for recruitment week, and all of their effort paid off. We had a fun and successful work week and recruitment week in August. We happily welcomed 73 new members to their home at 2001 University Avenue on Bid Day! Sarah’s plan for the new member bid day retreat at Camp Balcones Springs was very well received, and all the new Kappas had an enjoyable and safe time playing games and getting to know their new sisters in their pledge class. In September, school came in full swing, and the chapter enjoyed spending time together, eating meals at the house, studying together, and attending football games. Chapter Council worked to make sure that the New Members really felt that the Beta Xi house was their home on campus. Grace (House) got all of their fingerprints in our lock system, and Emily (Corresponding Secretary) and Caroline (Registrar) entered their contact information into Key Reports and the Gin System to make sure they received all chapter correspondence. After a post-recruitment meeting with Panhellenic, Tai was happy to report to the chapter that we had significantly reduced our fines from previous years! Before the first date event, Tai also gave a presentation to the entire chapter during meeting to lay out expectations and the standards that we hold each other to in social settings. Hallie and Audrey planned our fun destination date event, Kappa Kasual, at the Oasis. Although the event was cut short by the event staff for behavioral problems, Chapter Council took the opportunity as an experience to make a better Risk Management plan for the members before date functions. Tai, Hannah, and Hallie gave a presentation at chapter meeting the following week to re-emphasize the importance of safety during social events and the privilege it is for us to be able to have these functions. We also used our Committee Night to to get feedback from the entire chapter and brainstorm ideas about how we can improve our date events to make them as safe and enjoyable as possible! It was an excellent way for our members to come together and resolve a chapter-wide problem. Payton (VPAE) recognized the members who had received a 4.0 GPA the previous semester during chapter and gave them a goody bag. Her and her committee also decided to give goody bags to members who had made a 3.8, deciding that their hard work should also be noted. Caroline (Registrar) also scheduled the composite photos for the chapter at the end of the month. October was a busy month with many exciting chapter events to celebrate our heritage and history! Tai (VPS) and Audrey (Risk Management) continued to work on Risk Management policies for the chapter and gave presentations before TX-OU Football weekend and our Owl-O-Ween Date event on safety and behavior. The members had a fun weekend in Dallas for the football game, spending time with each other and rocking all of their new Kappa t-shirts and gear made by Favors. Allison (Education) also planned a wonderful Founder’s Day dinner. The event was hosted at AT&T Conference center, and it was a great time for the chapter and Austin alumnae to celebrate the history of our fraternity. We enjoyed a wonderful meal together, presentations from the advisors and house board, and music from Pickers. Charlotte (Marshal) and Emma (Philanthropy) rallied a group of our members to participate in Greek Get Down, a dance competition fundraiser hosted by AEPhi to support the B+ Foundation. The members who participated had so much fun getting to know each other and representing Kappa at the event. Charlotte (Marshal) did an amazing job planning and coordinating Inspiration Week at the end of October. The new members were put in their new Kappa families on big-little on Tuesday, Friday was Fireside, and on Saturday we happily initiated all of our new members as actives! Sarah planned a brunch for the new actives and their families at AT&T following the ceremony. Before our Owl-O-Ween date event with Chi-O, Audrey put a new wristband process and bus buddy system into place to make sure that we did not repeat the same problems we had at Kasual. Hallie (Events) planned the event at Clearport and the night was a huge success. Tessa also planned a Halloween Trick-Or-Treat party at the house for alumnae to bring their kids. The in-house girls decorated their rooms, put out candy, played with all of the kids, and had a great time! Nothing slowed down in November, with many events and lots of time together for the chapter to bond! Kaki hosted the Leadership Consultant, Casey, at the Kappa house and all of the officers enjoyed meeting her and hearing the ways that she thought we had improved within the last year. Hallie organized a fun Parent’s Weekend, with desserts on Friday night at Concrete Cowboy and Bar-B-Que at the house before the football game on Saturday! Hallie finished her term as Events Chairman with a bang by planning our last semi-formal of the semester, Kappa Klassic, at Speakeasy, and the chapter danced all night to the jazz band. Regan (Panhellenic) continued to meet with Panhellenic to discuss changes to the bylaws and did an outstanding job of respectfully presenting our chapter’s stance on the proposals. Our chapter also elected Riley Longtain as Slate Chairman at the beginning of the month, and her and her committee put in so many hours pouring over applications and nominating officers for 2018. Elections were held, and we are so proud of and excited for the upcoming Chapter Council! We know they will carry on the legacy of hard work and thoughtfulness that Beta Xi officers are known for! In December, the semester began to wrap up as the weather changed and finals approached. Kaki planned a leadership brunch at the house for the old Chapter Council, the new Chapter Council, and their advisors. It was a wonderful time to share all of the accomplishments of the past year and to transition the new officers into their positions. Emma also planned the final Philanthropy event for RIF at Wooldridge Elementary. The upperclassmen contributed to a book drive that Kappa donated to the school. The underclassmen got to spend a Saturday morning at Wooldridge, playing basketball with the kids, painting their faces, and getting them excited about their new books. 2017 has been a great year of unity and growth for Beta Xi. We have so enjoyed being able to spend time in our beautifully newly-renovated house, and we are excited for all the memories that will come there in 2018! Describe the recent changes on your campus and describe the overall nature of your chapter. We welcomed a new football coach, Tom Herman, in 2017, and it has been an exciting time for our team as they continue to improve. There were also several emergency incidents on campus this year, causing the campus to unify and rally around support for mental health and campus safety. Our chapter is known on campus for being a well-rounded and open minded group of young ladies. We are proud to have so many members involved in other organizations and making important changes on our campus and in Austin. Beta Xi allows its members to be the best versions of themselves, and we love that those things are reflected in our house as well as on our campus! Chapter Philanthropy: What organization(s) has your chapter historically/traditionally raised money for, or donated hours to, in your community? Wooldridge Elementary, B+ Foundation Why did your chapter choose this organization(s) to support? We have had a great relationship with Wooldridge Elementary School throughout the years. Several of our members enjoy our RIF events so much at Wooldridge that they volunteer independently there as mentors. Our chapter even received an award from the Wooldridge Elementary School for our outstanding volunteer work with their school. Several sororities and fraternities on campus have also adopted B+ heroes, who are kids battling cancer. Beta Xi has adopted a sweet little girl, named Moriah, who comes to the house about once a week. We feel like Moriah is one of our sisters, and it has been such a joy for our chapter to support her and her family as she goes through her journey. Moriah is one of the reasons our chapter has been so passionate about fundraising for the B+ Foundation, and we are proud of the money we have raised for such an awesome organization! Chapter Facility: In what kind of a facility does your chapter meet? Please attach a clear photo of where you typically hold chapter meetings – whether in a classroom, chapter house or elsewhere. We have a beautiful newly renovated house. We use our main dining room as the chapter room, where hold meetings throughout the year.