Zeta Beta Tau: Wikis


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Zeta Beta Tau
Zbt crest.jpg
Founded December 29, 1898
City College of New York, New York, NY
Type Social
Scope International
Motto "A Powerhouse of Excellence"
Colors Medium blue and white with gold trim
Flower Gold Carnation (adopted 2004)
Chapters 90
Fraternity Song "My Brother, Here's My Hand"
Headquarters 3905 Vincennes Rd. Suite 300
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Homepage ZBT Website

Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT, brothers of which are nicknamed Zebes) is a nonsectarian international fraternity. Today the merged Zeta Beta Tau Brotherhood numbers over 140,000 initiated Brothers, and over 90 student chapter locations. The first verse of the fraternity song is "Here's to our fraternity...."




The Zeta Beta Tau fraternity was inspired by Dr. Richard J. H. Gottheil, a professor of languages at Columbia University and a Zionist. On December 29, 1898, he formed a Zionist youth society with a group of students from several New York City universities.

The society was called Z.B.T., the meaning of which is revealed in the fraternity's ritual. In 1998, the meaning of Z.B.T. was announced to the world, though it was listed in the American Jewish Committee's annual report as early as 1908[1]. The society Z.B.T., referred to the first letters in the Hebrew phrase "Zion Bemishpat Tipadeh", which translated means "Zion shall be redeemed with justice". This is taken from Isaiah 1:27 - "Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her converts with righteousness." ZBT has interpreted Isaiah's prophecy to mean in its ritual that "All Men Are Brothers". At the time Jews were not allowed to join other fraternities due to anti-semitism, thus there was a need for an exclusively Jewish Greek letter fraternity. In 1903 Z.B.T. formally became Zeta Beta Tau and its purpose shifted away from that of a Zionist youth organization as other Zionist organizations grew in prominence. The original Hebrew meaning of Z.B.T. is not esoteric. It was publicly revealed in the official written history of Zeta Beta Tau, Here's to Our Fraternity: One Hundred Years of Zeta Beta Tau, 1898-1998, by Marianne Rachel Sanua.[2] The word "judgment" is sometimes translated as "justice".[3]

Zeta Beta Tau expanded rapidly. By 1909, it had established 13 Chapters throughout the Northeast and a 14th at Tulane University at New Orleans, thereby taking on a truly national dimension. In 1913, it established its first Canadian Chapter at McGill University in Montreal. Five years later, it founded its first West Coast Chapter at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. At the 1954 National Convention, the delegates amended Zeta Beta Tau's Constitution, ritual and internal procedures both in theory and in practice to eliminate sectarianism as a qualification for membership.[4]

Today, the merged Zeta Beta Tau Brotherhood is some 130,000 Brothers strong, and ZBT Chapters and Colonies are established at over 80 campus locations. Through good times and bad, ZBT has been in the forefront in pioneering new concepts - as evidenced by its very founding, its elimination of sectarian membership practices, its acceptance of mergers, its elimination of pledging, and its ability to solve enormous problems when others abandoned the effort.

Merging of the Five Brotherhoods

The Zeta Beta Tau of today is the result of a merger with four other national fraternities, more than any other North-American Interfraternity Conference fraternity. In 1959, Phi Alpha merged into Phi Sigma Delta. In 1961 Kappa Nu merged into Phi Epsilon Pi. In 1969-70, Phi Sigma Delta and Phi Epsilon Pi merged into Zeta Beta Tau.

Pledging abolished

Zeta Beta Tau was also one of the first National fraternities to abolish the institution of pledging in 1989 as a way to combat and eliminate hazing.[5] This change was not new to the world of fraternities, as in 1971 Lambda Chi Alpha became the first North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) fraternity to eliminate pledging, by replacing the process with an "Associated Membership" process. Lambda Chi Alpha paved the way for Zeta Beta Tau in taking the first steps to offer a completely equal brotherhood experience. Zeta Beta Tau's decision to get rid of pledging did not involve an associate membership process however. Once a brother joins the fraternity he will receive all rights and responsibilities as the rest of the chapter, and shall be eligible for any position within the chapter regardless of how long he has been a brother. Sigma Phi Epsilon would soon follow with a somewhat similar plan in 1991.

Semi-Annual Brotherhood Review Vote

In conjunction with the 1989 abolishment of pledging, ZBT National instituted a very progressive concept in fraternities then and now, the S.B.R.V. (Semi-Annual Brotherhood Review Vote). ZBT National mandates that all Chapters, twice a year (once a semester) have a vote to see who, if anyone, should be removed from membership within a Chapter. All brothers participate in, and are subject to, the anonymous vote, which are tallied by the Brotherhood Development Director.[6] If a brother does not receive a simple majority of supportive votes, he is expelled from the fraternity. What makes this policy so different from all other NIC fraternities is that ZBT does not consider you to be a brother for life once initiated, as any brother has the possibility of being voted out during his college career. Brothers of Zeta Beta Tau become brothers for life when they are granted alumnus status, most commonly after graduation. A former ZBT brother who has been voted out by the Semi-Annual Brotherhood Review Vote may request an unconditional release from ZBT National, and if granted, may join another NIC fraternity. Although, very few individuals are ever released.

Notable alumni


Arts and entertainment


Civil service


Media and literature



Zeta Beta Tau currently recognizes 90 chapters and colonies across the United States. The state with the most chapters is New York.

The following is a list of campuses with chapters and colonies currently recognized by the Zeta Beta Tau national fraternity.


External links

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