Eta Mu History

During Spring Quarter of 2009, 15 gentlemen came together and proposed a new fraternity, a place for legacy and incredible bonds. In light of tumultuous campus events at the time, most notably the death of Carson Starkey, starting a new fraternity at Cal Poly seemed nearly impossible, and many believed it could not be done. Nonetheless, thanks to our 15 Founding Fathers’ tenacity and ZBT’s strict non-hazing & non-pledging policies, it was decided that ZBT should be given a chance on our campus. Thus, on June 4th, 2009, the Beta Tau Colony at Cal Poly SLO was founded.

For three years our colony worked diligently, expanding its membership from the original 15 Founding Fathers to 55 brothers strong. The Beta Tau Colony excelled in academics & philanthropy, made a tangible difference in the SLO community through its annual Get On The Ball event, and won many victories in IFC athletics.

The Founding Fathers dreamed of establishing an organization of exceptional gentlemen with outstanding brotherhood, leadership, and moral integrity. On March 30th, 2012, this dream finally became reality when the Beta Tau Colony was chartered to become the Eta Mu Chapter, cementing the hard work and dedication of the Founding Fathers and all those after them for many years to come.

Our upwards trajectory continues today. We currently stand 127 brothers strong, and still hold our founding values and close-knit brotherhood in the highest esteem. We are ever striving to represent the best that the fraternity experience offers.

Zeta Beta Tau History

Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity was founded by Richard J. H. Gottheil, a professor of languages at Columbia University and leader in the early American Zionist movement. On December 29th, 1898, Professor Gottheil gathered together a group of Jewish students from several New York City universities to form a Zionist youth society. The society was called Z.B.T.

During this brief period, the society came to serve as a fraternal body for college. Zeta Beta Tau expanded rapidly: by 1909, it had established 13 chapters throughout the Northeast and a 14th at Tulane University in New Orleans, thus 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, 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.

Spurred by the growth of state and municipal university systems, hundreds of new institutions were opened in the quarter-century following World War II. By the 1960s, virtually every American had an opportunity to attend college. From 1945 to 1969, the number of ZBT chapters increased from 30 to 80.

The history of mergers in the Zeta Beta Tau Brotherhood followed a pattern of linking common traditions. In 1959, Phi Alpha merged into Phi Sigma Delta, and in 1961, Kappa Nu merged into Phi Epsilon Pi. In 1969-70, Phi Sigma Delta and Phi Epsilon Pi merged into Zeta Beta Tau.

Traumatic experiences for all Americans arose due to polarization over the Vietnam War. The American fraternity system – including Zeta Beta Tau – was subsequently affected by the great wave of anti-establishment feeling that was prevalent throughout the country, and so many of the chapters which survived this period of turmoil did so in a weakened condition. Fortunately, during the late 1970s and the early 1980s, there was a renewed interest in fraternity life, resulting in increased initiation statistics, the revival of many dormant chapters, and the expansion of our fraternity to new campuses.

During the 1980s, every Greek-letter group continued their efforts to stop hazing. Despite ZBT’s best efforts, hazing continued and increased in frequency and severity. ZBT concluded that all efforts to reform the institution of pledging had failed; we determined that pledging itself was the problem because pledges were considered second-class citizens, with no rights and no chance to refuse even the most outrageous demands of a Brother unless he quit the Fraternity. In 1989, in a last-ditch effort to eliminate hazing, ZBT eliminated pledging and all second-class status from the Fraternity. In its place, ZBT established a Brotherhood Program, with minimum standards (Brotherhood Quality Standards), as well as programs of education, bonding, and earning one’s Brotherhood status that applied to all Brothers of ZBT.

Today, the merged Zeta Beta Tau Brotherhood is some 110,000 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.

ZBT continues to maintain a tradition of leadership and respect in the interfraternity world.