The University Record, September 7, 1999

Aug. 27 fire destroys Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity house

By Julie Peterson
News and Information Services

An Aug. 27 fire caused extensive damage to the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity house at 800 Lincoln. Students were scheduled to move in the following day. Photo by Bob Kalmbach
The origin of a fire that destroyed the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity house Aug. 27 is “undetermined,” according to a report issued Sept. 2 by Ann Arbor Police and Fire Department investigators.

The fire caused extensive damage to the structure, located at 800 Lincoln. The building was empty at the time of the fire. Eighteen students were scheduled to move into the house Aug. 28. No one was injured in the blaze and the students did not lose any personal belongings.

“Investigators have been unable to rule out all accidental causes, which is necessary to make a definite determination of arson,” the report stated.

Immediately following the fire, which was originally labeled an arson by investigators, the University increased security around its fraternities and sororities. “While we are encouraged that this may not be arson, neither can it be ruled out,” said Royster Harper last week. The University will continue the increased security patrols until a clearer determination is made, said Harper, interim vice president for student affairs.

Other housing has been found for the students.

The national fraternity, founded in 1909 as a Jewish fraternity, established its U-M chapter in 1928 and opened its doors to non-Jewish students in 1953.

The local chapter was closed by the national organization early in 1995 for a number of disciplinary issues, and the property was leased to Tau Epsilon Phi, whose members resided there through Aug. 15. A new chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu that included none of the original members was organized last fall and officially recognized by the Interfraternity Council in April.

Harper said Student Affairs staff “are working with students and their families to provide support and assist them in dealing with this tragic situation.”