Full article HERE.
This is unconscionable but alas a very sad commentary on what happens when the support of one's country is too good for everyone and you have too many generations removed from actual war experience I pray they do not get a slap on the hand despite all the 'tough talk'.
The University of Florida to close the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity over allegation they harassed wounded veterans while they were on vacation in Panama City Beach.
The University of Florida chapter of Zeta Beta Tau will close in the wake of misconduct allegations following a recent weekend event in Panama City Beach, officials from the national organization and the University of Florida announced Tuesday. The closure is effective immediately.
“I continue to be saddened and disappointed by the reported mistreatment and disrespect of our military veterans,” UF President Kent Fuchs said. “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."
ZBT Fraternity International President Matthew J. Rubins joined Fuchs in expressing his dismay at the situation.
"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,” Rubins said. “ZBT will work diligently to demonstrate that the alleged behavior of a few does not represent the values of the many."
Both ZBT and the University of Florida will continue their investigations into the incident in an effort to fully understand what transpired. Federal law prohibits the university from discussing individual students in this matter.
Panama City Beach Police told News 13 they are currently investigating the incident and that they are looking for witnesses and or victims involved.
The University of Florida today placed the Zeta Beta Tau chapter on interim suspension and charged the organization with a series of offenses as part of its formal investigation into allegations of disturbing illegal behavior toward veterans while at an event in Panama City last weekend.
The chapter is charged with causing physical or other harm, obscene behavior, public intoxication, theft and damage to property. An interim suspension means the organization is suspended from all activities. There will be a complete investigation by the university.
“I am personally offended and disappointed by the behavior that has been described to me,” said Student Affairs Vice President Dave Kratzer, also a retired U.S. Army major general and combat veteran. “This is not representative of our students or of the university.”
Panama City police responded to the incident and no charges were filed. UF policies establish standards of conduct for individuals and organizations, and officials are addressing the situation through appropriate channels. The fraternity is currently on probation at UF for hazing during the fall semester, and as a result faces stiffer penalties if found to be in violation.
Federal laws prohibit the university from discussing anything about the conduct process for individuals.
The University of Florida takes pride in serving the veteran community in many ways and will continue to do so, using this opportunity as a teaching moment.
The Collegiate Veterans Society, a UF student organization, has reached out to the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity to propose a restorative justice meeting, and the Collegiate Veterans Success Center on campus hosted discussions with veterans to talk through the situation. Kratzer also will contact local veterans groups, and a team from UF and ZBT will offer to attend each group’s meetings to hear concerns.
UF President Kent Fuchs, UF’s dean of students and UF’s director of sorority and fraternity affairs have reached out to apologize to Warrior Beach Retreat founder Linda Cope and the individual veterans who reported the incident. The president’s letter is included as part of this release.
The ZBT chapter and the national organization also have apologized. The national office has placed the organization on interim suspension awaiting the conclusion of a full investigation.
“In the days and weeks ahead, I assure you that the University of Florida will address this immediate situation as well as reinforce the long term commitment to community service and respect for others that have always been hallmarks of the University of Florida community,” Kratzer said.
The Warrior Beach Retreat provides our nations finest, a place to relax and heal. The event wrapped last week, but a band of fraternity brothers disrespected and dishonored the veterans.
These heroes come to our beaches with a heavy burden, the price of our nations freedom. Last week, the heroes gained serenity and healing at the retreat, but the actions of the University of Florida and Emory University chapters of Zeta Beta Tau, left a dark mark on the trip.
The Warriors stayed at Laketown Wharf on Panama City Beach. The same location as the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity. The Greek brotherhood was there for a spring formal. According to Warrior Beach Retreat Founder, Linda Cope, the students were antagonizing warriors, throwing marshmallows on the vehicles, breaking American, flags off the vehicles and even urinating on the American flags.
She also said some of the students even made inappropriate comments to spouses of the heroes.
One veteran said he and his service dog were spit on, and beer was poured on them from the 20th floor.
Wednesday, the President of the University of Florida wrote an apology to the Warrior Beach Retreat organization.
"My prayer is that this will make an impression on the whole university level,” said Cope. “For these men and women to realize they better appreciate the men and women that gave them the right to have a formal."
The fraternity from the University of Florida wrote this apology to the organization:
Dear Warrior Beach Retreat and Veterans,
The brothers of Zeta Beta Tau at the University of Florida would like to send our most sincere apologies to all those who attended your retreat in Panama City Beach, FL this past week.
The behavior of some students who attended this event was out of line, and we apologize on their behalf for the behavior they exhibited.
We appreciate everything that you have done for our country and we assure you that the service that you have provided to the United States of America is unparalleled and is honored with the utmost respect.
To know that the actions of certain individuals in our chapter could have negatively affected your retreat is unacceptable to us.
Our Executive Board assures you that we have been working with University officials as well as our International Fraternity to investigate which individuals are responsible for such actions.
We have suspended the operations of the chapter until close of this investigation.
Individuals found to have violated our membership standards or our values will be removed from the organization effective immediately.
We are conducting an internal investigation as well as working with the Laketown Wharf to provide us with any further information that they can.
To in anyway disrespect citizens who have been injured fighting for this country and who have watched some of their closest friends pay the ultimate sacrifice so that we may enjoy the freedoms of this great country is disgusting, and our Executive Board, our International Fraternity, and the University will make sure that those responsible are held accountable.
As a Fraternity, we have a ZERO tolerance policy for such behaviors, and those found guilty will be expelled. Please understand that the actions of a few individuals are not representative of our Fraternity as a whole.
The deeds described on both social media and in letters to our University are completely against our Fraternity’s values and ideals, and those that have failed to respect those values will not be welcomed anymore.
Once again, the Fraternity is extremely sorry for any disrespect that you may have experienced this past weekend as a result of individual behaviors.
We also would like to apologize personally to those at Warrior Beach Retreat who put on this great event each year and we would love to offer financial assistance so that future attendees can participate.
Sincerely, The Brothers of Zeta Beta Tau at the University of Florida
Emory University was appalled to learn of acts of disrespect and harassment that were directed at attendees of the Warrior Beach Retreat in Florida this past weekend.
Our brave veterans who have sacrificed much for our country deserve the utmost respect and appreciation for their service.
The disrespectful behavior exhibited by students toward our veterans is not acceptable and will not be tolerated by members of the Emory community.
When Emory received complaints that students from one of our fraternities might be involved, Campus Life administrators immediately began an investigation. To date, no evidence has been found to implicate Emory students in these reported incidents. If any members of our community are identified as being responsible, they will be held accountable for their actions by the university.
Emory University thanks veterans for the significant contributions they have made to our country, and for exhibiting the values that we hold with great respect within our university community.
The above was released Thursday by Emory University.
Statement from Laurence Bolotin, Executive Director of Zeta Beta Tau International
Regarding Panama City Beach Incident
Early this week our Fraternity was made aware of reports regarding an incident between several members of two of our chapters and veterans of the Warrior Beach Retreat during independent trips to Panama City Beach. While the details of their actions are still under investigation, there is no doubt that some of our members engaged in ugly and unacceptable behavior. Their actions have no place in ZBT or anywhere, and they will not be tolerated.
On behalf of our entire organization, I want to apologize to veterans, both those who were in Panama City Beach, and those who have felt the pain from afar, as well as to their families and all who support the Warrior Beach Retreat and had worked to make it a positive and meaningful occasion for attendees. I am deeply saddened that the actions of our members ruined this special event and failed to show the respect our military and their families so deserve.
As we continue our investigation, our chapters at the University of Florida and Emory University have suspended all activities and are fully cooperating in our investigation. In addition, we have already expelled three members of the University of Florida chapter from our organization who we found to have been behaving inappropriately, and we will take any further action necessary as we learn more. Our Fraternity also has issued an apology on behalf of all of our members to the Warrior Beach Retreat, the organization that was hosting the veterans to provide them and their families with the opportunity to relax and recharge.
We are honored that hundreds of our ZBT brothers have served in the military and are disgusted that certain members of our Fraternity failed to exhibit the behaviors we expect from them towards our nation’s heroes — respect, gratitude and honor.
We are committed to fully addressing the events that took place, and will be hiring an independent investigator to help us gather all of the facts. Short-term, we are actively working with the resort, with the Presidents of both universities and with the local police to fully understand the events that took place. In all instances, we have a zero tolerance policy towards this type of behavior and are committed to appropriately disciplining any members of our Fraternity who were involved.
We also look forward to working with our members to make amends for this disgraceful situation by identifying opportunities to serve those who have done so much to serve us.