Three years after Zeta Beta Tau dissolved its failed GW colony, the national fraternity is taking steps to return to campus. ZBT, however, has upset University officials by ignoring the Student Activities Center and Interfraternity Council’s regulations governing reconstitution on campus. Further angering University officials, ZBT announced its intention to return to campus regardless of whether or not it receives formal recognition. This situation raises significant concerns with ZBT’s potential application, Greek-letter expansion policy in general and the Greek-letter system as a whole.
ZBT has approached re-colonization on campus in an inappropriate manner. Perhaps emboldened by Alpha Epsilon Pi’s unorthodox return to campus in 2002, ZBT opted to forgo the formal invitation process and place a classified ad in The Hatchet looking for students to start a new colony – before any serious discussions with the University about recognition. Normal procedure dictates that the University call for interested Greek-letter organizations to submit colony proposals to the University, which would in turn invite choice fraternities to campus. Further miffing GW officials, ZBT – despite standard operating procedure – is attempting to return to campus, apparently prior to the graduation of all colony members of the group implicated in the 2001 hazing scandals.
Despite valid justifications against a possible ZBT recognition application, the IFC might have a difficult time justifying rejecting it. Two years ago, AEPi returned to campus outside of standard procedure by recruiting students before IFC approval. After a bending of the rules, AEPi was permitted to re-colonize and gained quick recognition. Unless rules are more strictly enforced, it is possible this situation could repeat – further illegitimizing the IFC’s regulations. If SAC and the IFC wish to prevent similar expansion in the future, conditions and rules should be codified to govern how the process is handled. Both bodies should make clear that if a national organization opts to work outside established procedure, it will not receive recognition.
Perhaps most distressing is that ZBT officials plan on colonizing anew, irrespective of University recognition. Fraternities should pine for University recognition, but the vibrant community of unrecognized fraternities is telling of the state of Greek-letter life at GW – University recognition offers more headaches than benefits. Several Greek-letter groups enjoy their non-recognition status. For all the trumpeting about being friendly toward Greek-letter life on campus, University policy at times hamstrings campus fraternities and sororities. Greek-letter groups are subject to absurdly specific regulations and rules that often result in their placement on social probation for violations as minor as improperly completed paperwork.
GW has an interest in curbing underage drinking and other violations, but should balance this with the interest of having a vibrant Greek-letter social scene. The University should concentrate on legislating big-picture issues such as hazing and safety in an effort to avoid becoming an obtrusive entity controlling Greek-letter groups.
Not supporting a fairer Greek-letter life policy could have serious consequences. The more groups opt to forgo superfluous University regulations and operate off campus, the potential for students to be exposed to hazing and other safety threats increases substantially. By reforming the Greek-letter system and providing real benefits to groups with University recognition, GW can ensure a safe and truly vibrant Greek-letter community.
ZBT’s indifference to recognition is symptomatic of flaws in University policy governing Greek-letter life. SAC and the IFC should spend time looking into reforms of the Greek-letter system at GW in an effort to control expansion and enhance the quality of Greek-letter life on campus.