On March 3, the Sigma chapter of Zeta Beta Tau plans to initiate 45 “founding fathers” at Tulane University, and promote a new beginning after several difficult years.
Laurence Bolotin, ZBT executive director, said ZBT has been working with Tulane, the Tulane Hillel and Chabad, alumni and the local Jewish community to re-colonize Tulane.
Hillel welcomed ZBT back with a Shabbat dinner and event on Jan. 18, and on Feb. 14, 39 participated in a commitment ceremony.
“These students represent the best and brightest at Tulane,” he said. “They have a cumulative GPA of nearly 3.5, are actively involved in the campus Jewish community, have been recognized as individuals for their commitment to community service and philanthropy, and share ZBTs desire to be an organization without pledging at Tulane.” In 1989, ZBT became one of the first national fraternities to abolish pledging.
Founded in 1898 as the nation’s first Jewish fraternity, it became a national fraternity with the addition of Tulane in 1909. The 14th chapter, Tulane ZBT was the first located outside the Northeast.
In 2005, the ZBT house at Tulane was damaged by Hurricane Katrina, but a bigger blow came in January 2007 when a Winter Break fire left the chapter homeless. The cause of the fire was never officially determined and was one of several fraternity house fires at Tulane in recent years.
In 2008 the chapter rebuilt and was able to move into its new home in March 2009 — but in 2010, ZBT was kicked off campus because of violations of hazing policy.
The chapter was told not to try and return until those involved had graduated. In January, the process began for ZBT’s return.
Sophomore AJ DeLeon told the Hullabaloo that they “want to bring back a great organization that really fell out of touch with its roots, and we want to bring it back and make it our own and make it something we can be proud of.”
Phi Mu currently occupies the new ZBT house, but the lease expires in the summer of 2014, and Bolotin said ZBT will return to the building in the fall of 2014.