One year later, new fraternity begins to flourish
While most incoming freshmen were preoccupied by the hassle of moving into a cramped dorm room and leaving their homes behind last fall, a few students were thinking of adding their own spin on the MSU fraternity scene.
Now, the 11 founding fathers of the Zeta Beta Tau chapter at MSU have established themselves in a small house on the northwest outskirts of campus and amongst greek life.
The group of friends elected to start their own chapter of Zeta Beta Tau, which is historically a Jewish fraternity, because of the opportunity of joining greek life through their own standards.
“I really wanted to be a part of the whole (fraternity) life thing, but given that we had an opportunity to do it our own way, I think that was an easy way for me to kind of get my other friends involved,” said Jake Stone, communications director of Zeta Beta Tau.
The fraternity has grown from its 11 founding fathers last fall to more than 20 brothers this year.
Although Zeta Beta Tau may be small in numbers compared to others at MSU, Alex Buchanan, a founding father of Zeta Beta Tau, believes that their relatively small size differentiates them from other fraternities.
“What makes us unique really is our small size, so the stuff we do is a little closer together; and that makes it a little more of a personal kind of experience (rather) than just a bunch of people crowding up one place,” Buchanan said. “Our campus is so big and there are so many people, but this is just another way to make it smaller.”
There’s a lot that goes into starting up a fraternity, from finding a house to recruiting members and getting approved by the Interfraternity Council, or IFC.
Tony Biallas, president of IFC, said normally a representative from the national level will play a role in the process, monitoring for months while the fraternity begins.
“It’s not usually just the kids who set it up — there will be field secretaries that come to Michigan State’s campus and restart their fraternities,” Biallas said. “They’ll teach new members the values of the fraternity and how meetings are conducted, depending on whatever fraternity they’re looking to restart.”
Biallas added that before a fraternity becomes an official greek life fraternity, it is considered a colony.
The colony stage is considered the development period, and from there they will apply to become a fraternity, with the IFC approving or declining the proposal.
Large or small, Stone believes that he has gained a great amount from the experience in helping start up Zeta Beta Tau at MSU.
Stone said the process has helped him create relationships with other students across campus and learn how to create a brand for himself.
“It’s helped me make way more connections,” Stone said. “I met friends that I probably would have never met in the first place. And it’s kind of like a brand — we have to build our own brand and market ourselves. And there are a lot of lessons we’ve all learned from staying organized as a group.”