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Zeta Beta Tau returns to ASU after 30-year hiatus

 by Kendall Wright
 published on Wednesday, October 17, 2007

<b>NEW FRATERNITY:</b> The founding fathers of ASUís new Jewish fraternity look out over Alpha Drive Tuesday evening.  Back to front, they are architecture freshman Mark Bartschi, chemistry freshman R.J. Iovino, and film and media studies freshman Joel Swedlove./issues/news/702304
Morgan Bellinger / THE STATE PRESS
NEW FRATERNITY: The founding fathers of ASUís new Jewish fraternity look out over Alpha Drive Tuesday evening. Back to front, they are architecture freshman Mark Bartschi, chemistry freshman R.J. Iovino, and film and media studies freshman Joel Swedlove.
 

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The Interfraternity Council deemed a new addition to ASU Greek Life kosher earlier this semester.

Zeta Beta Tau, the nation's oldest and largest historically Jewish fraternity, was approved to join the ranks of other fraternities on campus. It has been more than 30 years since the fraternity was a part of ASU Greek Life, but will be the third historically Jewish fraternity on the ASU campus.

The four members of Zeta Beta Tau have been working hard to achieve their charter status so they might participate in the spring fraternity rush, said Joel Swedlove, a founding father for the fraternity on campus and film and media studies freshman.

"Although the fraternity is a historically Jewish fraternity, you don't have to be Jewish," Swedlove said. "It's all about being a fraternity first and a Jewish fraternity second."

The fraternity hopes to reach at least 15 members by the end of the semester for them to be recognized nationally as a charter, he said.

The fraternity was started in 1898 at Columbia University when Jewish students were not permitted to join other fraternities. In response, the students created their own fraternity that was Jewish, but non-sectarian, in order to be all-inclusive for any male interested, said Zeta Beta Tau spokesman Jesse Blum.

Blum is currently the Western Regional Director of Chapter Development for the fraternity, specializing in traveling to universities along the west coast and helping interested students form new chapters for Zeta Beta Tau.

The fraternity is different from others because it is a non-exclusive and non-pledging fraternity, Blum said.

Instead of "hazing" to prove commitment, the fraternity focuses on the importance of each member continuously participating in what is called the brotherhood circle, Blum said. This consists of service, education, alumni, athletics, bonding and social obligations for each member to show their commitment to the fraternity.

"Our mission is just to create a positive experience for college-aged men to form a brotherhood while giving back to the community," Blum said. "We also want to make sure any gentleman of good quality and character can join in order to be a positive impact on the campus."

The process for Zeta Beta Tau, or any other potential fraternity, to become recognized on campus will depend on a number of different factors, said Interfraternity Council President and business senior Chris DeNapoles.

To be recognized nationally, DeNapoles said the organization will have to comply with standards and expectations individualized to the particular national organization.

The first step to any new fraternity becoming recognized on campus is through a charter, which would require the fraternity's national headquarters to recognize them as an official organization, he said. This process can take anywhere from one semester up to several years, DeNapoles said.

The Interfraternity Council will only allow five colony organizations ó the first stage in becoming a recognized chapter ó at one point in time, DeNapoles said. But it is common of ASU's Greek Life to support new groups that will encourage additions to its community, he said.

Swedlove said although Zeta Beta Tau has started at a time when he feels fraternities have been viewed in a negative light, he said he hopes their presence will be a positive influence.

"We really want to change the way the fraternities are viewed," Swedlove said. "It's a brand new group, and we are just hoping to energize the Greek Life scene in a positive manor."

Reach the reporter at: kendall.wright@asu.edu.



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