“I would easily say Zeta Beta Tau was my best college experience,” said Jason J. Colombini, Eta Mu (California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo) 2014. “I’ve seen how the Fraternal connections last over the years. They’ve done so for my father and uncle, who were both fraternity men, and they have for me as well. Fraternity helps you hone personal skills and improve weaknesses and eventually turn them into strengths.”
As an undergraduate, Brother Colombini was one of the first ZBTs at Cal Poly. He had a strong interest in ZBT’s Ritual, values and Credo which carried with him after his graduation from college. Reaching a new point in his life, he reflected on the opportunities ZBT provided him and developed an inherent sense to give back to the organization that helped him grow.
Brother Colombini became a Chapter Development Consultant for ZBT International Headquarters upon graduating. In this role he traveled the country meeting with other chapters and brothers providing them guidance and support. He mentored brothers and helped them understand the full potential of ZBT in their individual lives and how they can impact their communities. After a year as a consultant, Jason returned home to California and recognized the Eta Mu Chapter did not have the advisory support it needed and began serving his undergraduate chapter once again but now as a Chapter Advisor.
“Our advisory board now has multiple advisors which is something we’re hoping all chapters of ZBT will have one day,” said Brother Colombini. “Each advisor has a focus on different aspects of the Fraternity such as one advisor mentoring the Recruitment Director and another directly with the President and Programming Directors.”
The advisory board structure that has helped Eta Mu become successful is being replicated with other chapters. Colombini mentioned there are always challenges with Greek life. The biggest being miscommunication and overcoming the “authoritative bad guy” perception. He wants chapters to connect more with their advisors to help them create a more inclusive atmosphere between undergraduates and alumni.
Brother Colombini praises the work of prolific undergraduates and how the undergraduate-advisor relationship can turn good chapters into great chapters.
“Chapters that struggle have their advisors leading the way which takes a lot of time and effort from the advisors,” said Brother Colombini. “If a chapter is performing well, the advisors can fine-tune aspects of the chapter to make it better for the brothers. One of the biggest factors for any advisor is having a strong level of trust with the undergraduates. If the trust breaks, communication and mutual support fall apart shortly after.”
“I would want all undergrads to know that alumni advisors aren’t infallible,” continues Brother Colombini. “They’re not perfect, but they have plenty of experiences as undergrads and as alumni that can help current brothers navigate difficult situations. Many of these issues happen to repeat themselves even up to 30 years later.”
Colombini still maintains that being an advisor is a wonderful experience although it’s not for everyone. Alumni need to have the time and willingness to do it.
“If you do, its rewarding,” said Brother Colombini. “You still feel like you have a meaningful relationship with younger brothers; you celebrate their successes with them and learn from their failures. It helps you grow as an advisor and helps them learn valuable life lessons along the way.”
For any prospective alumni advisors, Brother Colombini encourages them to have been an involved undergraduate and understand how the chapter and international organization operates.
“It might not be for everyone, but there are plenty of ways to get involved,” he said. “I like to allude to JFK, ‘Ask not what Zeta Beta Tau can do for you, ask what you can do for Zeta Beta Tau.’”