With the new ZBT chapter’s one year anniversary approaching, the brotherhood is able to reflect on the integral role they have played in the UM community since the organization’s return in the spring of 2022.
“It’s a great opportunity because if you want to build something and your image and your likeness in the future, the best way is to start from the beginning,” ZBT president and junior political science major Will Fleck said.
After 73 years of Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) being a part of UM’s campus, the chapter was closed in March of 2019 due to health and safety violations at social events. Three years later, ZBT returned to campus, with hopes of a bright future.
When the chapter was started, only around 50 members were involved with the organization. Now, the fraternity now consists of 100 brothers, with around 30 joining following the spring 2023 rush process
“Our chapter has significantly grown,” former ZBT president and junior exercise physiology major Kyle Sygall said. “ I don’t think anyone could have imagined how much we’d grow in just a span of a year.”
Philanthropy plays a crucial role in all fraternities, which ZBT has taken seriously. During the week of Feb.6, ZBT raised over $6,000 for their philanthropy week to donate to the Children’s Medical Network. The $6,000 dollars was almost double their goal.
In order to double their goal, the fraternity tabled throughout campus, sold merchandise and allowed donors to smash tomatoes, eggs or whip cream onto a brother’s face. Now that fundraising has completed, some of the brothers will visit the children at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.
“When I was diagnosed as a type one diabetic in 2013, I was in a Children’s Miracle Network, so because I have a personal connection, my appreciation has gone up astronomically,” Fleck said. “They take the [financial] burden off of families, and they do that through donations.”
Sygall was a sophomore when ZBT returned to campus, and was looking to get involved with Greek Life. He decided to give ZBT a try aftering hearing from his sister, who is now a UM alumna, that ZBT had a large presence throughout her time at the university.
“My experience was definitely a lot different from a lot of people because one of the first things we had to do was get a handle on the operation side of things,” said Sygall, who relished the opportunity of being a founding brother. “We just kind of had to make sure that we present as good of an image as we could to the school, so we did a lot of housekeeping.”
This housekeeping included making sure that potential new members had clean resumes and values that aligned with the brotherhood in order to make sure their transition back to campus was as smooth as possible.
The fraternity believes that the housekeeping has already borne positive results as they are showing their best foot forward. When sophomore computer science and cybersecurity major Lorenzo Rendina went through the recruitment process in the fall 2022 semester, he was drawn to the members of ZBT.
“ZBT was just the one where I really connected with the people and I saw a lot of ambition from everybody there,” Rendina, ZBT’s chief of staff, said. “I was like, you know, these are the people that I want to be around.”
In the future, ZBT looks forward to growing their brotherhood and continuing the new reputation that they’ve started at UM.
“We’re just going to keep going and I’m very excited to see where it goes,” Sygall said. “Just trying to keep up a tradition that was once proud here on campus.”