Non-pledging Jewish fraternity arrives on campus Fall 2018


Zeta Beta Tau logo. 

Zeta Beta Tau, an inclusive Jewish fraternity, will be expanding to Central Michigan University in Fall 2018.

The news was announced during the March 20 CMU Interfraternity Council meeting, where Brian Hoffman, director of organizational growth for ZBT spoke.

Although ZBT will not have a house on Main Street like other social fraternities, the organization, which was founded as the world’s first Jewish fraternity, plans on leading the way for positive change on campus. 

The IFC governed fraternity is non-pledging, meaning members are initiated within 72 hours of accepting their bid. IFC-governed fraternities such as Sigma Alpha Epsilon have also taken a stance on using a non-pledging approach. 

Pledging is defined as the process after a potential member accepts an offer, or bid, to join a fraternity. It’s a probationary period where the new members may have to prove knowledge about the fraternity, connect with brothers, endure hazing from members of higher seniority in some cases and familiarize themselves with Greek Life overall. 

The idea of non-pledging is to avoid the idea of “breaking men down to build them back up,” Hoffman said.

During the pledging process, members can be subject to sleep deprivation and hazing. Not pledging new members helps to avoid these unpleasant procedures.

“In ZBT we have one status — it’s brother — it’s not pledge, it’s not new brother, unless you’re simply saying he is new and joined last week,” Hoffman said. “Whether you’re a first semester freshman or a second semester senior, you’re held to the same standards of being a ZBT.”

ZBT members are held responsible for maintaining a positive image within the community and the fraternity, Hoffman said.

A member can be removed at any time from the fraternity, regardless of their seniority, for breaching the values the men are expected to stand by, he said. Expectations that hold ZBT members accountable concerning questionable pledging activities, hazing, alcohol issues and sexual misconduct mean that members have to “earn their right” to be a ZBT every day. 

He also noted how the men are responsible for contributing service through four different organizations.

ZBT focuses on issues such as sexual aggression prevention, anti-discrimination efforts and works with groups such as the Children’s Miracle Network, Jewish Women International, Gift of Life and the Zeta Beta Tau Foundation. 

The men of the fraternity are responsible for hosting events that raise awareness, provide donations and educate the community on the multiple organizations ZBT partners with, Hoffman said. 

IFC President Galen Miller said he believes the new fraternity will enhance the image of campus Greek Life. Miller also said ZBT will attract a demographic of students who were not interested in joining Greek Life before.

As a result of the new group of students the fraternity is marketing to, this may increase recruitment rates in future years for the IFC as a whole, Miller said.

Hoffman encourages interested men to reach out and learn more about the fraternity. 

“If you want to learn how to be a citizen, how to be a man in today’s society, want to talk about understanding cultural awareness and understand social responsibility, which is a cornerstone of the central student experience, come to us,” he said. “Learn about what we offer.”