The Daily Evergreen
Published: 08/23/2007 5:47pm
The university told Sigma Nu fraternity members on May 5 their chapter had been suspended for three years following an extensive investigation launched last February.
The investigation began after an anonymous letter accused the WSU fraternity of hazing its members. During the investigation, the university found pictures on Facebook that showed Sigma Nu freshmen with drawings on their faces. Former members of Sigma Nu said the freshmen admitted doing the drawings to each other.
â€œUnder no circumstance is hazing tolerated, regardless of oneâ€™s consent,â€ said Samantha Armstrong, assistant director of the WSU Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life.
WSU enforces a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to hazing and the Greek community strictly prohibits it as well, she said.
Hazing is illegal, according to Washington state law.
â€œHazing means any method of initiation into a student group or any pastime or amusement … that causes, or is likely to cause, bodily danger or physical harm, or serious mental or emotional harm,â€ according to Washington Administrative Code 132.130.010.
The Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Association of WSU began the investigation.
â€œWhen hazing is an allegation, these groups work together because itâ€™s not acceptable,â€ Armstrong said.
When the IFC and Panhellenic Association received the letter in February, they held hearings and conducted their own investigation. After their investigation, the university Office of Student Conduct began one of their own, after which Sigma Nuâ€™s National Board became involved. The collaboration of all three entities and their findings resulted in the decision for a three-year suspension as punishment.
Sigma Nu members are unhappy with the decision. A suspension is like a death sentence for a fraternity, said senior Riley Kennedy, former Sigma Nu Treasurer.
But once a university finds an organization responsible for hazing, that group can not be recognized, Armstrong said.
â€œIFC has a constitution,â€ she said. â€œSigma Nu violated that constitution … [finding a group responsible] is an extensive process and we like to give them a chance to present their side..
Senior Nathan Schroeder, a former Sigma Nu programming chairman, said he wrote in a letter to WSU: â€œ[I] felt like for the last three years, our fraternity has been blatantly targeted and [we] havenâ€™t done anything worse than any other fraternity … The punishment doesnâ€™t fit the crime..
Ryan Jones, the director of Policy and Procedure for the IFC, said this is the â€œdawning of a new era for the Greek community. [We] now have a standards board that is dealing with problems and wonâ€™t accept anything below those standards..
Throughout second semester last year, the university had at least three potential dates for letting the members of Sigma Nu know the extent of their punishment. Hazing violates all international fraternity and sorority policies, in addition to WSU policies and the state law. The official outcome for this violation was concrete on the latest date possible, Armstrong said.
â€œEveryone received calls the day after finals, Saturday, May 5. About 40 guys were planning on living in,â€ said senior Jake Kennedy, former Sigma Nu new member educator.
Sanctioning for minor violations of various policies happens more frequently and Jones said the IFC is working to create more positive consequences instead of negative ones.
â€œBefore there might have been monetary penalties for a small violation,â€ he said. â€œBut now for example, if a fraternity violates a policy regarding philanthropy, we would require them to host a program for other Greek members about why philanthropy is so important..
Sigma Nu members hope their story will be a lesson for other fraternities.
â€œWe hope our misfortunes and the problems we went through actually help the other fraternities,â€ Riley Kennedy said. â€œWe donâ€™t want them to have to go through what we went through.â€