Yale’s newest fraternity, Beta Upsilon Chi, or BYX, will begin its first rush process next week as the University’s only Greek organization currently in defiance of Yale’s anti-discrimination policies.
In October 2012, BYX chose to deregister with the Yale College Dean’s Office to maintain a nationally mandated policy of exclusively Christian membership. All registered groups must comply with the Undergraduate Regulations, which state that all undergraduate organizations are banned from discriminating on the basis of religion. Fraternity members said Christianity is a key part of their fraternity’s life, and they are committed to upholding the Christian-only policy despite the challenges associated with deregistering.
“We decided not to compromise what our purpose is for being registered on campus,” said Victor Hicks ’15, the chapter’s founder and president. “We are a brotherhood of Christian men. … We hold chapter meetings that are Christ-centered, and testimony is given at these meetings. The sole unifying aspect of the fraternity is that you believe in Christ.”
The BYX national organization’s website states that “each of our members is a professing Christian and exhibits a willingness to serve in Christ’s Kingdom” — a requirement that defies the Undergraduate Regulations, which mandate all organizations adhere to Yale’s equal opportunity policies.
Hicks said he registered the fraternity in summer 2012, when he sent the Dean’s Office a copy of the fraternity’s constitution. John Meeske, dean of student organizations and physical resources, said the fraternity was approved for registration because administrators “did not realize” the fraternity’s membership policy. The constitution sent along with the registration application included all membership requirements, Hicks said.
After Meeske and Assistant Dean of Yale College Rodney Cohen told Hicks that BYX must eliminate its Christian-only membership requirement to continue operating as a registered organization in October 2012, Hicks and his fraternity brothers decided to discontinue registration with the University to continue the policy.
Hicks said the fraternity members chose to deregister based on the national organization’s recommendation that the fraternity not compromise the membership requirement to obtain registration. He added that the members had a desire to “stay true to what the fraternity had established” — an organization centered around Christian teachings and open only to Christians.
Meeske said he only remembers one other group during the 2011–’12 academic year that deregistered because it defied the Undergraduate Regulations.
BYX member Josh Ginsburg ’15 and Hicks both said that Christian beliefs and practices comprise a key role in the fraternity’s activities and events. Hicks said five of the six current BYX members met last year at a weekly Bible study group run by the undergraduate organization Yale Faith and Action. He added that the fraternity takes a “biblical stance” on alcohol — it prohibits any member under 21 years of age from drinking at all, and those members over 21 may only drink in moderation when not wearing BYX apparel. New fraternity members must sign a pledge stating that they believe in Christ when they join the organization, he said.
Both Hicks and Ginsburg said they understand the traditionally Jewish Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity’s choice to admit students that identify with all religions. Ginsburg said adopting a policy similar to AEPi’s would not affect BYX because he thinks that permitting non-Christian members would still not garner interest from many non-Christian students.
AEPi President Daniel Tay ’14 said his fraternity “looks for people who fit into our culture in a holistic sense … who fit the fraternity’s cultural, philanthropic and social sides” rather than only Jewish students.
BYX has made efforts to overcome the difficulties of operating as an unregistered organization without access to University funding, spaces or events such as the extracurricular bazaar, Hicks said.
“As a nonregistered organization, we definitely have to supplement by putting more effort in, relying on word of mouth and coordinating with other leaders on campus to recruit a really good group of new brothers for next semester,” he said.
BYX will begin its spring rush process on Monday, Jan. 21.