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Sigma Chi loses charter

Campus Editor and News Editor

Published: Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 02:04


JM Rieger | The Miami Student

An Oxford Police Department cruiser sits outside the Miami University Alpha chapter of Sigma Chi International Fraternity Friday evening. The fraternity’s charter was revoked Thursday evening.

The Miami University Alpha chapter of Sigma Chi International Fraternity, founded 157 years ago, lost its charter as an active chapter Thursday evening.

Associate Director of University Communications Claire Wagner said the Executive Committee of Sigma Chi International Fraternity voted Thursday night for the revocation of the chapter’s charter and notified the members of the chapter 9:30 p.m. Thursday.

According to Wagner, there is no return date set for the chapter, but Wagner said she estimates potentially a four or five year hiatus, allowing all current members to graduate.

According to Wagner, the fraternity’s headquarters have had ongoing concerns about the Alpha chapter.

“Sigma Chi International Fraternity, the headquarters, have been working with the chapter for a few years because they have [had a] concern about a culture of misbehavior,” Wagner said.

The fraternity was on disciplinary probation through May 10, 2012 following reports of prohibited use of alcohol, hazing and violation of the law, according to an Office of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution file.

A letter from the Executive Committee of Sigma Chi to the brothers of the Alpha chapter said the chapter has persistently engaged in illegal activities, failed to uphold the standards of the fraternity and engaged in inappropriate behavior.

According to the executive committee letter, “the chapter’s refusal to move in a positive direction has left the Fraternity with no further recourse to consider other than a period where the Alpha Chapter temporarily closes its doors until the Fraternity has the ability to establish a chapter that all Sigma Chis can be proud of.”

A source with knowledge of the situation said the chapter lost its charter following a number of “issues” including hazing that occurred in front of the chapter’s live-in advisor, as well as drug incidences. The source said all members of the fraternity are required to be out of the house by Wednesday.

According to Miami’s Interfraternity Council (IFC) website, the fraternity had 35 members as of fall 2011.

Wagner said Sigma Chi had a fraternity second-year exemption, allowing sophomores who would otherwise be required to live on campus to live in the fraternity house. The 22 sophomores currently living in the fraternity house are required to move back on campus.

“Miami has been working with them since Friday to give them rooms,” Wagner said.

According to Wagner, seven upper class students also lived in the fraternity house, and they have been given the option to live on or off campus. In addition, 18 students joined this semester’s pledge class.

According to a letter sent to Sigma Chi from its Alpha House Corporation notifying it of the chapter’s suspension, “the current pledge class is suspended and will not be initiated into the Fraternity.”

Over 10 Oxford Police Department (OPD) officers entered the fraternity house Thursday night following the executive committee’s vote, and a combination of six police officers from OPD and the Miami University Police Department were then stationed in the house for 65-straight hours to make sure no damage was done to the house, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Individuals from Sigma Chi’s International Headquarters removed “valuables” from the house Thursday evening, according to the source.

The chapter’s charter removal followed an interview process that took place in January, where about 30 percent of the chapter’s members were placed on alumni status, keeping them from interacting with the active chapter in any way. The live-in advisor was placed in the Sigma Chi house at this time, according to Mike Dunn, executive director of Sigma Chi International Fraternity.

Dunn said about 30 members were left in the chapter following the membership review at the beginning of the semester.

According to Dunn, the chapter was on probation leading up to the decision. He would not elaborate on the type of probation the chapter was on, but said the chapter violated the probation terms.

“They certainly had probation, all of which was violated,” Dunn said.

The status of active Alpha chapter brothers enrolled at Miami has been changed to alumni status, according to the letter from Sigma Chi’s Executive Committee.

Despite being founded at Miami, Dunn said the fact it was the Alpha chapter did not influence the decision to revoke the chapter’s charter.

“It doesn’t matter whether it was the Alpha chapter or the last chapter we installed,” Dunn said. “It’s always a decision that’s not taken lightly. It wasn’t without a lot of consternation that [the executive committee] made the decision. There’s probably a heartstring to the Alpha chapter, but they treated them on the same level as they would treat any other chapter.”

According to a letter from Sigma Chi’s International President Dennis Santoli regarding the closure of the chapter, the fraternity will begin planning for reactivation immediately.

Dunn said this is the first time the Alpha chapter of Sigma Chi has ever had its charter revoked.

Sigma Chi was suspended from Miami from March 2, 2010 through Dec. 31, 2010, and then was on disciplinary probation from Jan. 1, 2011 through Aug. 23, 2011 following reports the Alpha chapter damaged hotel rooms while intoxicated in Columbus, Ohio.

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