Mike Gargano, assistant vice president of Student and Academic Support Services, said Wednesday that GW reversed its decision to recognize Zeta Beta Tau fraternity, after students objected to GW bypassing the Interfraternity Council’s role in recommending new fraternities. Administrators acted responsibly in backing away from an attempt to force the Greek-letter community to accept a fraternity the IFC already objected. But now the former Alpha Epsilon Pi pledges, who are attempting to bring Zeta Beta Tau back to GW, say they will establish a chapter without University recognition and have support from their national organization. This newest twist in the case calls into question administrators’ previous actions and forces students to ask the value of getting GW recognition.
The new Zeta Beta Tau brothers claim Gargano encouraged them to work to bring Zeta Beta Tau back to campus. Gargano agrees, but says he told them to follow proper procedures, which means they would not initiate into the fraternity through the University of Maryland chapter. Regardless of which story is more accurate, GW officials should never have encouraged pledges of a fraternity suspended from campus for hazing, and who were involved in attempts to continue Alpha Epsilon Pi without GW recognition, to bring a new fraternity to campus. Without what could only be called backdoor maneuvering, GW could have saved the predicament it finds itself in with yet another unrecognized fraternity operating on campus.
The greatest sanction GW can typically levy against a student group is to withdraw recognition. With Zeta Beta Tau set to go on without that recognition, GW is essentially impotent to monitor the new group. Such a situation conjures up fears of another fraternity such as Sigma Alpha Epsilon, the chapter that has operated independently of GW since 1994 and has the longest record of judicial offenses than any other fraternity at GW. While Zeta Beta Tau’s decision to proceed autonomously could potentially lead to serious problems or dangerous situations, no evidence suggests that will happen. The best solution to the whole mess is for the new chapter of Zeta Beta Tau to follow the IFC’s and GW’s rules and work for recognition, although no one could blame them for not wanting it.