Although Binghamton University has an undergraduate Jewish population of more than 3,700 students, it currently only has one Jewish fraternity ― a number that will rise to two in spring 2018.
Zeta Beta Tau, a Jewish social fraternity, will return to campus after its charter was revoked in November 2012 due to Student Conduct violations including hazing, alcohol misuse and owing more than $20,000 in debt to its national organization.
Laurence Bolotin, executive director of Zeta Beta Tau’s national organization, said he sees the reinstatement of Zeta Beta Tau at BU as a fitting opportunity, especially for the University’s Jewish students.
“The University can benefit from having another organization dedicated to the large Jewish population,” Bolotin wrote in an email. “We can provide an option that doesn’t currently exist as an inclusive Jewish fraternity without pledging.”
Zeta Beta Tau was founded in 1898 by Richard Gottheil, a professor at Columbia University, who sought to give Jewish students who had been previously excluded from fraternities the chance to join a brotherhood. Today, Zeta Beta Tau has grown to include more than 90 chapters across the United States, and claims to be the world’s first Jewish fraternity.
Currently, Alpha Epsilon Pi, which was founded in 1913 at New York University and brought to BU first in 1985 and again in 2010, is the University’s only Jewish fraternity.
Yitzhak Maurer, the outgoing president of Alpha Epsilon Pi, Interfraternity Council (IFC) president-elect and a junior majoring in classical and Near Eastern studies, expressed his optimism for Zeta Beta Tau’s reinstatement and membership in the BU Greek life community.
“My hope is whether or not they have a strong Jewish influence in their chapter, that the national representatives from Zeta Beta Tau will select men that are committed to our shared ideals of the IFC,” Maurer said. “Men committed to academic excellence, philanthropy and shared brotherhood, and ultimately men who will make all of our campus community proud.”
BU policy states that after a fraternity or sorority is removed from campus, the group is ineligible to return to campus for three years, or until at least 80 percent of the original members on the roster are no longer students at the University. Brian Hoffman, Zeta Beta Tau’s director of organizational growth, presented to the IFC last week to establish an expansion chapter on campus.
Until the national organization sent a cease-and-desist letter to the unrecognized Zeta Beta Tau chapter last year, Zeta Beta Tau’s letters were still seen on the BU campus. The new fraternity chapter, however, will consist of students recruited and trained by the national organization.
L.C. Coghill, the director of fraternity and sorority life at BU, noted the efforts on behalf of the organization to ensure an effective establishment, as well as efforts to prevent previous issues from reoccurring.
“Zeta Beta Tau, nationally, is putting significant resources into the success of the chapter upon reactivation,” Coghill wrote in an email. “As for debt, the national staff will be providing education to the men on appropriate chapter budgeting and their dues collections will be closely monitored.”
According to Matthew Kreitman, vice president-elect of Alpha Epsilon Pi and a junior majoring in environmental studies, the addition of Zeta Beta Tau to campus poses further questions about the Greek life community at BU.
“The University needs to address our lack of Greek life staff before we bring on more chapters,” Kreitman said. “However, I do think Zeta Beta Tau has the potential to be a meaningful addition to the BU campus.”