The Warrior Beach Retreat provides veterans with an opportunity to relax and heal. The event was interrupted when a band fraternity brothers disrespected and dishonored the veterans.
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. Several apology letters have been issued:
The fraternity from the University of Florida’s apology letter:
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 Statement
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.
Statement from Laurence Bolotin, Executive Director of Zeta Beta Tau
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.