The Zeta Beta Tau fraternity will continue efforts to expand to GW but agreed to comply with the Student Activities Center’s request to wait until fall rush has been completed. Zeta Beta Tau national officials also said they may form an unrecognized group if they are not asked to join the Interfraternity Council.
Courtney Barry, SAC’s coordinator of student involvement, contacted the Zeta Beta Tau national office after they had placed a classified ad in the Aug. 25 issue of The Hatchet soliciting male students to form a chapter.
Barry requested that the national office postpone their efforts to form a chapter until after fall rush. Rush, a recruitment period for fraternities, is scheduled to end Oct. 2.
Interfraternity Council president Ben Block said when fraternities begin efforts to “search for new members” and expand to a campus before the fall recruiting period, it is “a sign of disrespect.”
Following rush, the IFC’s Expansion Committee will examine rush statistics for the past three years to determine whether the University would benefit from adding more fraternal organizations. The IFC is a governing body for GW’s 12 recognized fraternities; there are three unrecognized male groups.
Block said the IFC does not go over rush statistics to consider expansion every year but will do so this year following rush.
If the committee rules in favor of expansion, it will create a timeline for the establishment of a new group and invite three to five national fraternities to make presentations introducing their organization.
The University did not approach the Greek-letter group, but rather the Zeta Beta Tau National office sent a letter to SAC in June stating that the organization was pursuing expansion to GW.
“Typically, the IFC would notify the organizations and ask who would like to expand,” Barry said.
If the IFC chooses to expand, they may contact groups that have sent letters of interest to the University or groups that have not contacted the GW.
“These are groups we will look at,” SAC director Tim Miller said. “Whether or not they will be invited to present is up to the IFC.”
Miller and Barry said letters of interest from national fraternities is an acceptable first step for expansion. Barry said the ad in The Hatchet, however, did not follow “protocol.”
“That’s not following University protocol or IFC protocol and it is unfortunate,” Barry said.
Jonathan Yulish, executive director of the fraternity’s national office, said placing an ad in a student newspaper is part of their standard expansion procedure and it has been “successful in general.”
Barry could not confirm or deny whether the IFC will expand this year but did state that “there may very well not be expansion.”
“It is really not a difficult process for any group interested,” Block said. “ZBT has made the processes more difficult for themselves.”
Yulish said Zeta Beta Tau will strive for recognition. He added that unrecognized Greek-letter groups are not at a disadvantage because they still have to follow the policies of their national organizations.
“It’s nice when the university gives us resources, but we do not necessarily need them,” Yulish said.
SAC officials stressed the importance of a Greek-letter group gaining recognition, citing that groups sanctioned by GW tend to endure longer because of the ability to receive University funding and on-campus housing.
Block added that “being a recognized fraternity ensures a certain quality of experience,” including the “benefits of being a part of the community and benefits of being a part of the University.”
In addition to the ad, SAC officials expressed concern over Zeta Beta Tau’s financial debt to GW and the possibility of former Zeta Beta Tau members still being enrolled at the University.
In order for a fraternity to return to campus, all former members must be graduated from the University.
Zeta Beta Tau attempted to return to campus in 2001 and for a seven-month period operated as an unrecognized colony. The group dissolved due to hazing allegations and members of that group may be seniors at GW.
“They were made aware in 2001 that they could not return unless all former members had graduated and were not affiliated with the University,” Miller said. “All outstanding debts also had to be paid before they could come back.”
Barry said Zeta Beta Tau incurrred “significant” debt “based on past housing they had.” The debt has yet to be paid.
Block added that Zeta Beta Tau’s history at GW would be more of a factor for University officials than for IFC officials because “we haven’t been around to see that history.”
Miller said he would not like to see “history repeat itself” if the organization returns to campus.
-Caitlin Carroll contributed to this report.