Founders’ Week: Persistence pays off in founding of Beta Chapter.
Cheryl Cox became arguably the most important crush in the history of Beta Upsilon Chi when she caught the eye of TCU Founder Chuck James. Chuck and Cheryl ran in some of the same circles at TCU and led a Bible Study together.
One night, Cheryl was telling Chuck about her brother David, who was a student at The University of Texas. Because of his interest in Cheryl, he “feigned listening” until she divulged a piece of information that caught his attention. David was a member of a Christian fraternity at Texas.
Chuck had recently dropped out of rush in the middle of it. He saw the process as degrading. Jumping through hoops to impress his peers and striving to live up to an undefined standard to earn a bid only frustrated him. It was not how he wanted to start his college career.
Chuck touched base with Cheryl’s brother and became convinced that he had to bring BYX to TCU. He had previously considered founding a Christian fraternity at TCU, and that conviction grew after talking to David.
“He told me all about BYX, and I became absolutely immediately convinced this is why I was sent to TCU when I could not possibly afford it,” Chuck said.
But when the founders of the Alpha Chapter at The University of Texas established BYX, there was no grand vision for it spreading to 34 campuses in 16 states. Their perspective didn’t stretch past the city limits of Austin.
“We had no idea what we were doing,” Texas Founder Wendel Weaver said. “We never thought even for a minute that it would go to other campuses. We were just trying to figure out which way was up.”
Not only did they lack a vision for expansion, but they also lacked a desire. The Texas Founders feared that allowing BYX to expand would water down the experience and that it would slowly become only nominally Christian. The Texas Founders did not want BYX to become the next fraternity in a long line that started off with a Christian purpose only to eventually depart from their mission.
Cox made this clear to James. When James met with Texas Founder Jeff Garrett to discuss bringing BYX to TCU, he reiterated the same point. Weaver further drove the point home even more strongly. The Texas Founders did not want BYX leaving Austin.
All the while, James pressed on, bringing five more men into the fold: Jon Sherman, Jeff Sherman, Kyle Kight, Mike Howell and Steve Kendall. The group of six set out to see if there was indeed a desire to have this Christian fraternity on campus.
The six men compiled a list of every Christian man they knew that may be interested in joining BYX. Over a six-week span, they divided up the list and met with the men to tell them about the idea of bringing BYX to campus and see if they had any interest in being a part of it.
“We just heard about BYX and we had this vision for BYX and the whole thing from the beginning was about getting all the guys together in one group and getting us connected under Christ,” Jon Sherman said.
Enough men showed interest over that time they held three informational meetings. At the second meeting, Ronnie Dunn asked Chuck about the BYX handshake. He told Ronnie they didn’t have one. So, as a group of 40 men fired off questions about BYX, Ronnie and Chuck came up with the BYX handshake.
About six founders from Texas made plans to meet in Dallas. Chuck asked for an opportunity for the eventual TCU Founders to plead their case to the Texas Founders. The Texas Founders allowed them to drop in, but, once again, they shot down their request.
But a week later, the Texas Founders bent and said they were willing to give it a shot. Cox soon visited the TCU campus with some documents and taught the fraternity song to the TCU Founders. Chuck also traveled to Austin to attend a chapter meeting at the Alpha Chapter.
On campus, not everyone was receptive of the idea. Many Christians didn’t see the need for a Christian fraternity focused on unity. They saw such emphases such as evangelism and discipleship as more noble endeavors than unity. Existing Christian groups didn’t agree with or understand the purpose of BYX and feared their purpose would detract from their own ministries.
Following their third informational meeting, the men considering being a part of the founding were informed that they would have the opportunity to officially join on March 15. Anyone who came that night could sign on to be a charter member.
When March 15 rolled around, the six men waited upstairs in Clark Hall, petitioning the Lord for 20 men to show up and officially join them to found the Beta Chapter. At 9, they went down to the lobby, and what they saw brought Chuck to tears. Forty-seven men had shown up to sign on to be charter members of the Beta Chapter.
“People ask what it’s like to see where BYX is today, and I admit that where it is today is what I have always wanted and envisioned,” Chuck said. “I never wanted it to be for UT and TCU alone. While I am beyond excited and amazed that God has moved it to where he has, I want more. More and more young men need this alternative to give them a place to fit in that encourages versus discourages their faith in Jesus.”