By Victoria Slater, Managing Editor
Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity (SAE) will return to campus next semester, after a fireworks incident led to its suspension in 2012.
The Intrafraternity Council (IFC) approved SAE's re-affiliation petition at a meeting Tuesday, and granted them "associate membership," which means they can participate in formal recruitment in the spring, and in social events like Greek Week.
However, according to IFC's outgoing president senior Zach Scheid, in order to achieve full membership, SAE will need to seek university recognition.
SAE lost recognition Aug. 23, 2012 for violating the fireworks, drugs and disorderly conduct clauses of Miami's Student Code of Conduct.
According to a 2012 article in this paper, Oxford Police Department (OPD) officers were dispatched to the SAE house in the early hours of Aug. 19, 2012 in response to a fire alarm, and saw fireworks exploding from the third story of the neighboring Phi Kappa Tau fraternity house. Members of both fraternities refused to cooperate with the police, so OPD obtained a search warrant. Upon entering both houses, OPD encountered drugs, drug paraphernalia and fireworks.
Further investigations and lab tests revealed both fraternities had large quantities of marijuana and cocaine.
"At this point [The Oxford Fire Department] has issued 31 civil citations between the two houses and the individuals living in those houses," said Oxford Fire Chief John Detherage on Sep. 21, 2012 in this newspaper. "The houses have been charged with various offenses, including numerous fireworks offenses and fire code."
Both fraternities received sanctions - Phi Kappa Tau's recognition was revoked through August 2013 and SAE's through August 2014. According to the Cliff Alexander Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life, SAE was allowed to petition for reinstatement of recognition no earlier than Feb. 1, 2014.
If a Greek chapter is unrecognized by the university - but still recognized by its national organization - they may choose to exist off-campus, but may not recruit members or use university facilities.
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Scott Walter said current students and SAE alumni interested in reforming the chapter put together an executive board whose tasks were to refine the chapter's character and work toward recognition.
"Their usual approach is to let everyone graduate and start over again," Walter said.
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Scheid said Tuesday's IFC meeting was the first time they had received a re-affiliation petition from SAE, although the fraternity has been eligible for more than a year.
"They really took their time to think about the fraternity they wanted to be and their goals moving forward," he said. "All of us were happy with their petition. They are certainly a much better chapter."
With IFC's approval, SAE can begin to recolonize by recruiting new members in the spring. However, according to Walter, the chapter's associate membership means they are essentially on a trial run and likely won't receive university recognition until next year. The chapter must meet certain stipulations to earn recognition at a university level, like appointing a live-in adviser.
But, Walter said IFC wouldn't have approved SAE's petition if they didn't believe the chapter could meet the university's standards.
"We trust IFC's judgment," Walter said. "As long as they are going to live up to the community standards of Greek life, we will accept them."