University officials decided Tuesday to “call a time out” in their attempt to bring the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity to campus next spring, said Mike Gargano, assistant vice president for Student and Academic Support Services.
The Interfraternity President’s Council followed suit Tuesday night, rejecting Zeta Beta Tau for the second time this school year.
Zeta Beta Tau colony President Stu Katz said the group of 18 former Alpha Epsilon Pi pledges plan to keep the fraternity on campus without IFC or University recognition.
After announcing last week that GW would allow Zeta Beta Tau on campus in 2002 regardless of what the IFC wanted, Gargano said GW put the fraternity’s invitation on hold following extensive conversations with Zeta Beta Tau National President Ron Taylor.
“Our holding off of the invitation has primarily to do with ZBT organizing on campus with a group of 18 students without formal approval to do so,” Gargano said. “They need to go through normal procedures.”
Gargano refused to comment on whether the University reserves the right to bring fraternities to campus without IFC approval.
IFC President Jared David said the University decided to defer the decision on Zeta Beta Tau’s recognition to the IFC.
“Mike Gargano told me that based on conversations he had with Ron Taylor, the University no longer wished to bring ZBT on campus for spring 2002 and was washing its hands of the matter,” David said.
David said he thinks there is now a better understanding of the IFC’s role and the potential for a better relationship between the University and the IFC.
“Their decision better reflected the IFC’s position and was brought out by more thorough discussion,” David said. “Ultimately it’s always the University’s decision, but in many cases they delegate decisions to student governing organizations like they did in this situation.”
David said GW made it easier for the IFC to vote against Zeta Beta Tau Tuesday night. He said the group was already planning to vote against the new chapter Sunday, but no consensus had formed.
“If the University had not changed its position, it would have been a mature decision to extend some kind of offer,” David said. “As of (Tuesday), we were not headed that way.”
David said the former Alpha Epsilon Pi pledges, who joined Zeta Beta Tau last month after their old fraternity lost GW recognition, were misled by Zeta Beta Tau’s national organization into initiating too early.
“We are disappointed in the actions of the 18 pledges who chose to be recognized by ZBT national before they were recognized by GW,” David said. “They are the victims in this matter.”
Gargano said the University will defer to the IFC to decide how to integrate the Zeta Beta Tau members into GW’s Greek-letter community.
Katz said the new Zeta Beta Tau members do not regret their decision to be initiated by Zeta Beta Tau before gaining GW recognition.
“Even without the recognition from the IFC and the University, we will come on strong in the fall,” Katz said. “We have national ZBT behind us, we are getting an adviser and we have nothing holding us back.”
Katz said the group plans to follow IFC guidelines and does not plan to act as a “renegade chapter.” Katz said the colony plans to recruit new members in the fall and feels confident the organization will thrive at GW.
“We have a big network of students and word of mouth gets around,” Katz said.
Zeta Beta Tau National Director of Chapter Affairs Faron Lewitt said the national organization will “absolutely” support the colony without University recognition.
“This is not unprecedented as we are supporters of freedom of association,” Lewitt said. “We are prepared to support the group, but my concern is that the University isn’t supporting its own students.”
David said the IFC has a number of choices to make concerning how the group will deal with the unrecognized chapter.
“They are going to find themselves on an uphill struggle and will not be able to provide the benefits of a recognized organization,” David said. “There is significant liability involved, and they lack the necessary experience to run a successful organization.”
David said the IFC can choose to ignore the Zeta Beta Tau colony like the organization has done to Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which kept support from its national organization after losing GW recognition in 1993. He also said the IFC can take steps to deter students from joining the group through Colonial Inauguration information pamphlets and Hatchet advertisements.
“Zeta Beta Tau doesn’t threaten the Greek community, it threatens potential members from getting a full Greek experience,” David said.
David said GW fraternity members feel they do not get enough support from the University, and both sides need to work on understanding each other’s wishes.
“It had appeared that the University closed its doors, but now those doors have been opened,” David said.