Zeta Beta Tau
The Xi Chapter of Zeta Beta Tau is well known at MIT for its house in Brookline and policy of non-pledging. The chapter's website with more current information is available at http://zbt.mit.edu.
The brothers of ZBT typically throw two large parties a semester in their party room, with themes ranging from the classic Halloween party to ZBTron, bringing the life of Tron to the atmosphere of a party. Those who prefer less boisterous events will look for numerous room parties, pub nights, and mixers with sororities.
Each semester, brothers and their dates spend a night out in some of the classiest venues in Boston during the semiformal event. Recent years have included a cruise through Boston Harbor, a night at the Aquarium, and a bird's-eye view of Boston from the famed Top of the Hub restaurant af the Prudential.
The semi-annual soiree features amazing desserts prepared by the pastry chef Karen as brothers and guests dress up for a night of chocolate strawberries, cheesecake, and karaoke.
There is a wide spectrum of brothers at ZBT, ranging from rock climbers to Starcraft players to jazz musicians to documentary makers. Whatever your passions, you can always find a brother who is also interested.
Top house interests include sports (particularly Frisbee and soccer), video games (Super Smash Bros. Melee, Heroes of Newerth) and board games of all sorts (Settlers of Catan, Dominion among the top), wrestling, singing, mechanical building (robots [most notably the winner of the Food Network Demolition Derby Cakes Challenge], potato guns) and simply hanging out and chatting in the common room.
A couple of years after the founding, a huge opportunity opened up. A two-year old fraternity house was suddenly vacated by a Boston University fraternity. Xi Chapter immediately acquired the $250,000 house, the same house that ZBT uses today at 58 Manchester Road. The purchase of the house made big news in The Tech, which described the house as "the ultimate in fraternity living."
The house is located in Brookline, a tree-lined residential area of Boston named one of the best places to live by [ht tp://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bplive/2010/snapshots/PL2509210.html CNN Money]. Brothers walk, bike, drive, or ride the fraternity's 15-passenger van to MIT’s campus. The house is within minutes of basketball and tennis courts, several public parks, numerous restaurants, and a 24-hour Shaw's supermarket. Between 30 and 40 brothers live in the house each semester, mostly in doubles and triples throughout the house. The fraternity chef Karen cooks dinners for the house 5 nights a week and breakfasts 3 days a week.
ZBT was one of the nation's first to abolish pledging in 1989. While many old pledging traditions were thrown out, the chapter was able to successfully implement a freshman program that did not include any pledging practices at all. By 1997, all practices that had made freshmen pledges had been completely removed.
"A Zebe is a Gentleman"
Brothers at ZBT (or “Zebes”) strive to hold themselves to the standard “A Zebe is a Gentleman”. A brother of ZBT is respectful and accepting without fail, both to fellow brothers and to other members of the MIT community.
Here’s what a current Zebe had to say about being a brother:
“When I came to MIT, I never expected to join a frat. I had always seen frats as institutions of anarchy and sin, but this is definitely not true at MIT. In particular, what I found at ZBT was a supportive community of people I could identify with. At ZBT, I never found myself pressured to party hard or be anyone but myself, and by getting to know such a diverse group of people, I was able to learn a lot more about myself. Through ZBT, I’ve discovered an entire network of amazing people I would otherwise have ever known.”
- Mark Zhang, class of 2013
Serving our Community
At ZBT, we take pride in reaching out to our immediate neighbors and those farther away in our community. Every October, our basement is transformed into a haunted house, a popular Halloween attraction for our neighbors in Brookline. Hundreds of people visit the house, with many parents sharing stories about when they visited as a child.
Get on the Ball is an event in which brothers of ZBT collect signatures from students, faculty, and visitors as they roll a giant six-foot ball throughout the MIT campus. Companies have pledged donations based on the number of signatures, and the event has raised over $1000 for the Children's Miracle Network hospitals.
In addition, brothers of ZBT can be found building biology model kits for high school students, volunteering at blood drives, mentoring high school robotics teams, and cleaning the edge of the Charles River, just to name a few of the many community service opportunities that brothers participate in.
The Xi Chapter at MIT was founded in 1911, the 15th chapter of Zeta Beta Tau formed. When MIT moved from Boston to its current location in 1916, there was some tumult in the chapter, and it eventually dissolved by 1926.
A group of men decided in the late 1950s to reform the chapter. In 1956, Jack Segall from McGill University and Lyle Brown tried to restart the dead Xi Chapter at MIT. Interest in the movement grew and, in late 1956, the IFC approved their petition to form the "Dover Club." (The name "Dover Club" was chosen because the IFC forbade any group petitioning to become a fraternity to use the letters of that fraternity until they became full members of the IFC; the name comes from Lee Dover, the general secretary of ZBT at the time.)
For several years, the Dover Club lived in a special section of Baker. In 1957, the Dover Club rushed its first class, the Class of 1961 (the Alpha Class). The Dover Club remained well known on campus for athletics (for example winning an intramural volleyball tournament) and academics, achieving the number one GPA of all living groups in 1960. Finally, on February 25, 1961, ZBT accepted the Dover Club as the reinstatement of the Xi Chapter at MIT. The Dover Club was not forgotten though—it is now the name of the trustee organization.
The chapter has produced many famous and interesting alumni. A few include:
- Denis Bovin '69, Vice Chairman of Investment Banking, Bear Stearns
- Lawrence Bacow '72, current president of Tufts University
- Jon Hirschtick '83, founder of SolidWorks, member of MIT Blackjack team
- Jeremy Hylton '94 MEng '96, developed Google Blog Search and Google Real Time Search; published "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare," the first online compilation of Shakespeare
- Andrew "bunnie" Huang '97: the first person to hack the original XBox console.