Florida frat closed over veteran-abuse accusations
Gainesville, Fla. — The University of Florida closed a fraternity Tuesday after allegations that its members hurled drunken insults and spat at a group of disabled military veterans at a Panama City Beach resort.
Zeta Beta Tau fraternity’s closing, effective immediately, comes a week after the school suspended the fraternity, which expelled three of its members after finding they had behaved inappropriately. The school previously said it was charging the fraternity with obscene behavior, public intoxication, theft, causing physical or other harm, and damage to property.
Zeta Beta Tau’s Florida chapter has 128 active members. The organization was founded in New York City in 1898 as a fraternity for Jewish students, who at the time weren’t allowed in fraternities. The national organization agreed to the closure.
“We are absolutely disgusted by the accusations that have been made regarding the behavior of members of this chapter. ZBT has a long history of serving our country, with brothers currently serving in all ranks of the military,” said ZBT Fraternity International President Matthew J. Rubins.
The Warrior Beach group says the frat members were extremely drunk, and were urinating on flags, vomiting off of balconies and were verbally abusive while the two groups were at the Laketown Wharf Resort last weekend. The veterans were there for an annual retreat meant to honor their service, and the fraternity had a social function.
“I continue to be saddened and disappointed by the reported mistreatment and disrespect of our military veterans,” University of Florida President Kent Fuchs said in a statement. “Our university has always honored, and will always honor, the service of veterans. The reported conduct of this fraternity contradicts the values of service and respect that are at the center of this university.”
Members of Zeta Beta Tau from the University of Florida and Emory University in Georgia were attending their spring formals at the resort. Emory officials have said they are investigating, but so far there is no evidence to implicate their students.
The fraternity was already on conduct probation for a hazing incident in the fall semester. The fraternity has hired its own independent investigator to find out what happened.