The Zeta Beta Tau fraternity is attempting to return to GW after a nearly three-year absence. University officials would not comment on whether the fraternity is following the recommended recognition process for Greek-letter groups.
Tim Miller, director of the Student Activities Center, wrote in an e-mail that GW and the Interfraternity Council continue to “discuss the prospect” of Zeta Beta Tau’s return. IFC President Ben Block would not comment on whether Zeta Beta Tau’s national organization was following the recommended steps for a former fraternity to expand to GW and receive University recognition.
Miller said the SAC office received a letter in June about Zeta Beta Tau’s plans to form a colony that would constitute the group’s core members. Their national office also printed a classified ad in The Hatchet’s Aug. 25 issue calling for “men to start a new chapter.”
Should the Zeta Beta Tau colony form, the fraternity’s national organization said they would like to receive University recognition, but that it is not a “prerequisite” for the formation of the group.
“It will be up to our students to determine if they would like to join?this organization rather than one of the?many?fraternities currently recognized and supported by the University,” Miller said.
Miller said SAC discourages students from joining unrecognized organizations “due to their histories and lack of oversight” from the University. There are currently three unrecognized Greek-letter groups: APES, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Sigma Alpha Mu.
Miller added that he is “always concerned” when groups choose to expand to the University without “being formally invited through the appropriate processes.”
“I continue to hope that ZBT and other fraternities will work with the University and the IFC and have expansion be an organized and mutually agreeable process,” Miller said.
In November 2001, Zeta Beta Tau national fraternity withdrew its recognition of its seven-month-old GW colony after parents contacted the organization’s headquarters and said their sons had been hazed. The investigations that followed uncovered various infractions, including pledge “line-ups” and a “two-tier membership system” in which older members had seniority over recently initiated members.
Despite the failure of Zeta Beta Tau’s most recent effort at GW, Jonathan Yulish, executive director of the fraternity’s national office, is optimistic about his fraternity’s future in Foggy Bottom.
“We were successful (here) for years, and we target GW because of the quality of the school and because it fits into our demographic,” Yulish said,
The historically Jewish fraternity wishes to return to GW sometime this year. However, under University rules it may only do so without the involvement of former Zeta Beta Tau members. No students had expressed interest in the fraternity as of Sunday evening.
“If a group fails, we do not want a brand new group to be influenced by them,” Yulish said.
Following the dissolution of Zeta Beta Tau in 2001, members of the fraternity formed the APES group, which still operates at GW as an unrecognized fraternity. At one point, they had wanted to come back to campus as Alpha Epsilon Pi; members of APES have said they are uninterested in aligning themselves with a national fraternity because of the strict guidelines that they would be subjected to.
“We’re a local fraternity. We have a different brotherhood. We have no need for a national charter,” junior Brian Kossler, APES’s public relations liaison, said. “If ZBT were to return, we would welcome them back. We have nothing against them and we hope they are recognized if they want to be.”
Alpha Epsilon Pi re-colonized in November 2002 with an entirely new set of members. The fraternity went through a series of formal applications and worked to distinguish themselves from the former Alpha Epsilon Pi. They were permitted to fully rejoin the IFC in May 2003. The new group received their official charter in April.
Scott Liftman, president of Alpha Epsilon Pi, said his organization welcomes a new Zeta Beta Tau, if they make recognition by the University a priority.
“A good group of guys starting a fraternity is always a positive, but if they have no intention of becoming a recognized, it’s negative,” Liftman said.
Liftman cited the possibility of unethical rush practices by unsanctioned groups as having a detrimental impact on the Greek-letter community.
-Caitlin Carroll contributed to this report.