Zeta Beta Tau national fraternity withdrew recognition of its GW colony Nov. 1 for hazing new members among other violations, according to GW’s Interfraternity Council.
Seventeen Zeta Beta Tau members, who are former Alpha Epsilon Pi members, were expelled from the fraternity along with 24 recruits from this year.
Officials from the national organization declined to provide details of infractions but said the members illegally instituted a pledge system, or “a two-tier membership system” in which full members had authority over newly initiated members, according to a letter from Zeta Beta Tau national President Ron Taylor.
Other violations were pledge “line-ups” and having members from the former Alpha Epsilon Pi chapter at GW participate in activities. The national fraternity recalled all Zeta Beta Tau manuals and regalia.
Zeta Beta Tau Executive Director Jonathan Yulish said parents called national headquarters several weeks ago complaining of hazing, spurring an investigation.
Meanwhile, GW and the IFC had conducted their own inquiries, as IFC President David received reports from several “credible sources” of Zeta Beta Tau members hazing pledges.
“It certainly wasn’t subtle hazing,” he said of the reports. “It was very blatant.”
David sent a letter to the North American Interfraternity Conference and GW officials about three weeks ago tipping them off to complaints of hazing. He said the NAIF might have contacted the national organization.
“Activities which have allegedly taken place over the past several weeks, including last week’s brawl at a Georgetown club, are a direct result of the unreliability of Zeta Beta Tau national headquarters,” David said in the letter.
SJS has been interviewing Zeta Beta Tau members ever since an Oct. 12 Georgetown bar brawl broke out involving the members, David said.
“The indication I got was that (the pledges) were going in and they were scared and they were talking,” David said, adding that he did not think GW had contacted the national organization yet.
At least one Zeta Beta Tau pledge denies the charges.
“There are a couple of kids that didn’t get bids that posed as pledges and made false accusations to national,” freshman Zeta Beta Tau initiate Adam Gerber said. “We wouldn’t have ever done this.”
President of the former Zeta Beta Tau fraternity Stu Katz declined to comment on the accusations, offering: “There was a miscommunication between ZBT national and our colony as to what we expected from them and what they expected from us.”
The Zeta Beta Tau colony has existed unrecognized by GW for the past seven months. When Alpha Epsilon Pi lost University recognition and its national chapter March 13 because of hazing violations, 17 pledges decided to pursue new fraternity options. Zeta Beta Tau national recognized the colony in April.
The colony attempted to get GW recognition the same month and was rejected in part because the members sought initiation from a new fraternity before the University recognized it.
IFC board members said they believe this proves that unrecognized fraternities on campus struggle to survive without the support of the IFC.
“I’m confident that more cooperation with the IFC would have averted this type of end for Zeta Beta Tau,” IFC Executive Vice President David Schaffer said.
David said he will push to get Zeta Beta Tau pledges to speak out about the hazing they experienced.
“Until a couple of days ago, they’ve been lied to. They were convinced that they were going to be a recognized fraternity at GW,” he said. “Now they know how much they’ve been manipulated, that they went threw all they went through for nothing, I would expect those members to come forward and say they’ve been screwed.”
Yulish said that he would like to bring Zeta Beta Tau back to GW, but any group must be willing to follow the rules.
“GW is definitely a school that we’d like to be back at, but only under the right circumstances,” he said.
When asked what the former Zeta Beta Tau members are planning to do, Katz responded optimistically.
“We don’t know yet, but we’re still going to stick together,” Katz said. “We’re definitely not going away.”