The University Record, October 10, 1994

Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity votes to return charter to national

Responding to Greek Activities Review Panel (GARP) sanctions against the fraternity, members of the Alpha chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon have voted to return the chapter’s charter to its national organization.

The former Sig Eps plan to continue living at the house as rent-paying tenants, but will no longer function as a fraternity, according to Frank J. Cianciola, associate dean of students.

Early last week, GARP, which oversees the University’s fraternity and sorority system, issued sanctions against the fraternity. Members were accused of hazing a prospective member in early September.

Sigma Phi Epsilon members were told they would not be allowed to recruit members for the 1994–95 school year, participate in intramural sports and inter-Greek activities until October 1995, or vote on measures coming before the Interfraternity Council (IFC), but would have to continue to attend all Council meetings.

GARP, a 12-member judicial panel of elected fraternity and sorority representatives, found Sigma Phi Epsilon responsible for the Sept. 4 incident, which resulted in a brief hospitalization of a pledge for alcohol poisoning. In addition, GARP said the fraternity engaged in irresponsible and unsafe alcohol management, and “the behavior of Sigma Phi Epsilon showed disregard for the dignity of its individual members.”

“It was not our intention to make an example of Sigma Phi Epsilon, but we do want to make sure that something of this nature never happens again at Sigma Phi Epsilon or any other fraternity at Michigan,” said Steve Townsend, IFC executive vice president and chief judicial officer. “It won’t be tolerated and it will be dealt with harshly.”

Sigma Phi Epsilon’s national headquarters also investigated the incident and had ordered all U-M chapter members to attend educational programs on hazing and perform 20 hours of community service.

Sanctions included removing four members from the chapter and suspending seven other members for the fall semester.

The fraternity could have recruited new members in fall 1995 only if the chapter received written approval from its alumni organization and the University’s IFC adviser. If any of the terms of the sanctions were not met, GARP had recommended that the IFC Presidents’ Council expel Sigma Phi Epsilon from the IFC.

GARP also recommended that specific anti-hazing legislation become part of the IFC constitution.

Cianciola said GARP’s decision to sanction Sigma Phi Epsilon demonstrated courage and sent a message that the Greek system is important but that hazing is an unacceptable behavior.

Terry Landes, University fraternity coordinator, said, “Nobody’s happy about handing down sanctions like this, but this was something that needed to be dealt with.”

Added Landes, “I feel bad they quit. I was prepared to put in a lot of time and effort to help them develop as a group.”

Maureen A. Hartford, vice president for student affairs, said the University was pleased with the way GARP handled the incident and supports its decisions.