By Laura Fitzgerald, For The Miami Student
Four years of banishment are coming to an end as Sigma Chi prepares its return to campus for spring 2016 recruitment.
The fraternity was originally suspended in April 2012 for issues of hazing, alcohol and illegal activities. The university hopes the suspension period has provided a fresh start for the chapter.
The four-year period ensures all the members have graduated, allowing for a fresh crop of members and a values-based recruitment process.
"The University Cliff office likes to do four years because it helps kind of reset the culture and make sure they start fresh and start with what their principles are," said Zach Scheid, president of the Interfraternity Council.
Suspension means the members living in the Sigma Chi house were forced to move out, and all events, such as socials, meetings or philanthropic activities, were prohibited.
The chapter plans to recruit students who uphold the national chapter's values - friendship, justice and learning, according to Sigma Chi's website - and who are involved in their communities.
"The whole international fraternity is very excited to bring the chapter back, but more importantly, bring it back the right way," said Preston Lees, associate director of expansion for Sigma Chi's national headquarters.
In addition, recruiters are searching for students who hold leadership positions on campus, said Michael McPhee, assistant director for the Cliff Alexander Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Student Activities.
"They're able to start on that strong foundation with the values-based process, and recruit people that are excited about and in line with that mission of the chapter," McPhee said.
Fraternity culture can become cyclical, and members can stray from their values when they are starting out, Scheid said. The most critical period is the first five to 10 years in which a group is started or reinstated.
"I think what we're trying to do and what the presidents are trying to do now is build that long-term route, so we don't lose a chapter," Scheid said.
While Sigma Chi's specific recruitment timeline is still in the works, leaders from the national chapter will come to assist with the recruitment process, McPhee said.
This includes leadership consultants, who work with existing
chapters on chapter management and value-based recruiting, and volunteers who assist with recruitment, McPhee said.
This is a significant gain for Sigma Chi's national chapter, as Miami's chapter is an alpha chapter, meaning it was founded on Miami's campus.
"In every organization the alpha chapter is the pride of that fraternity," Scheid said. "They get to instill exactly what the founders wanted in the next group of men that are going to join that chapter."
Scheid said building trust is a key component to promoting a positive culture in a chapter.
"I think there's trust there, I think that's one of the most important building blocks to kind of build that turning point is trust, between chapter, leadership and their governing council," Scheid said.
Sigma Chi's reinstatement comes after three fraternities, Kappa Sigma, Phi Kappa Psi and Sigma Nu, were suspended over the summer. Scheid said while he was disappointed in the loss of those chapters, Sigma Chi's return will promote pride in Miami's Greek life.
"We're able to start to recolonize the chapter and bring back that pride that Greek life really has in our community and nationally as a whole with such an influential chapter as Sigma Chi," Scheid said.