University officials said this week GW will recognize the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity next year with or without Interfraternity Council approval. The IFC will decide Tuesday if the council will recognize Zeta Beta Tau, after rejecting the fraternity last fall.
Mike Gargano, assistant vice president of Student and Academic Support Services, said the chapter deserves another chance. Zeta Beta Tau received a four-year suspension in 1993 for numerous infractions including alcohol violations on University property, according a March 11, 1993 Hatchet article.
“They bring many great opportunities and, though they made a mistake, it should not be held against them for a lifetime,” Gargano said.
Freshman Stu Katz, Zeta Beta Tau colony president, said the fraternity plans to be on campus in the fall with or without GW recognition. Katz and 17 other Zeta Beta Tau members, who were initiated into the GW colony this month, are former Alpha Epsilon Pi pledges. GW suspended Alpha Epsilon Pi for four years in January for hazing.
Gargano said Zeta Beta Tau will come to campus by spring 2002, but not necessarily with the 18 former Alpha Epsilon Pi pledges because they are not eligible to join another group yet.
“Anybody who pledges a fraternity and for some reason the fraternity is suspended, has to wait a year to join another one,” Gargano said.
Katz disagreed, saying Zeta Beta Tau’s national organization already recognizes the former Alpha Epsilon Pi pledges.
“If (Zeta Beta Tau) comes to campus, it will be with us,” Katz said.
Katz said when the group met with Gargano after Alpha Epsilon Pi lost recognition, Gargano encouraged the group to pursue other fraternities and told them that “it looked good that Zeta Beta Tau was coming back to campus.”
Gargano said he told the group to follow GW procedures. He said he does not approve of the members’ move to join Zeta Beta Tau before it officially comes to campus.
IFC President Jared David said Zeta Beta Tau’s initial fall presentation before the IFC was “lackadaisical,” and the President’s Council voted 8 to 1 to reject the fraternity. The group will meet Tuesday to decide whether or not to bring the fraternity on next fall.
David said the University has ignored the IFC’s role in recommending which fraternities should come to campus. According to IFC bylaws, the group gets first say in recommending a new member fraternity.
“Ultimately it’s the administrators’ responsibility, but there is no doubt the IFC knows what’s best and has the experience to know who will succeed,” David said.
Gargano said the University did not usurp IFC authority and has the power to grant recognition to all student groups.
“I don’t think we undermined (the IFC) . it’s not like we didn’t have conversations with them,” he said. “The talks go back four IFC leaderships.”
Gargano described the IFC as an advisory board and said the University and the IFC play different roles.
“The IFC should be involved in recruiting, presentations, education and self governance, but the decision of who comes to campus should be the administration’s responsibility,” he said.
David said University officials have pushed the IFC to accept the former fraternity of GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg.
Gargano said Trachtenberg’s connection with the fraternity did not influence the decision to support Zeta Beta Tau.
Trachtenberg declined to comment.
David said the IFC will take the “least caustic route” to resolve the debate between GW officials and IFC members, which could mean recommending to accept the chapter with restrictions. David said the IFC will help Zeta Beta Tau grow if it accepts the chapter.
“There is no way we will bring on a chapter and let them fail,” David said. “We want to make sure it’s a success.”
The IFC could offer to accept the fraternity with conditions, such as placing the fraternity under “show-cause” probation, meaning the group would have to remain in perfect judicial standing and would not recruit in the fall.
“The IFC will lay an acceptable offer on the table, and it’s up to the University and Zeta Beta Tau to accept,” David said.
It would be unprecedented if the group gets University recognition without approval from the IFC, David said.
The University and the IFC do not recognize the GW Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter, but the fraternity was already established when it lost University recognition in 1993, David said.
“In this case we have 18, possibly 19 guys, who are establishing something new already on the wrong foot,” David said. “If the University and (Zeta Beta Tau) don’t accept the offer the IFC makes, I don’t foresee that they would have any success on this campus.”
-Kate Stepan contributed to this report.