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Ron King ’70 Remembers Politics, Protests, and Parties"The most important thing about my time as an undergraduate is the political and social transformations occurring at Penn and elsewhere throughout the American university system. I strongly remember many of us sitting around watching the draft lottery and debating whether to serve, evade, or resist induction. I strongly remember the political rallies and protests and am proud to have participated. Of course there were social events and parties, and long nights hanging out. But the changes in society at the time affected us all dramatically and have left lasting impressions."

The draft wasn't the only thing on the minds of the brothers of PiKA. What would you do if you arrived on campus one fall, and discovered you (and your fraternity brothers) didn't have a place to live? That's exactly what Ron and the rest of Beta Pi brothers found at the beginning of one school year.

"The university was building a set of ugly new high-rise residences and thus the house would (tragically) be torn down. Yet our new fraternity house was not completed in time. We arrived for the 1967 fall semester with no place to live. The university then temporarily provided a decaying old building for us, which we named "The Slum." I lived, for a while, in part of a large, unusable, somewhat smelly upstairs kitchen. When it was available, brothers all pitched in to help put the finishing touches on the new house. One evening, while we were initiating a new group of pledges, many of us also were installing the wardrobe units in the rooms. The new house proved worth the wait."

Ron said that he learned a lot of important life lessons in his time as an undergrad at Penn. Of course, the socials and sororities were nice, but Ron said watching everyone's maturation is what was most memorable.

"The most important thing about belonging to the fraternity was the experience of supportive self-government. We were responsible for the house and its management. Even more importantly, we were all responsible for making the house a place where everyone felt comfortable, felt empowered, and belonged. The older I get, the more I appreciate the difficulty of this lesson."

"The chapter openly welcomed a wide diversity of personalities, political views, and social styles. I would guess that the collective length of our hair and beards were the longest on campus. The Beta Pi Chapter gave freedom to a varied group of young men to live together in a cooperative, self-governing community, which was a great virtue."


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