As one fraternity disappears from the University, another one returns.
The University’s 110-year-old chapter of Kappa Sigma will not be returning to campus this spring, but Pi Kappa Phi, which was suspended in spring 2010, will restart its operations this semester.
On Dec. 12, 2010, the national office of Kappa Sigma fraternity shut down the University’s Beta-Lambda chapter after the chapter violated portions of the Kappa Sigma Code of Conduct relating to hazing and alcohol and controlled substances, according to a letter sent from the national fraternity to the University’s chapter.
“We’re just very sad about this. It’s always difficult to lose a chapter, especially one this old and with so many wonderful alumni,” said Mitchell Wilson, Kappa Sigma executive director.
The chapter has until Jan. 15 to file an appeal with the national Kappa Sigma office, though they haven’t done so yet, Wilson said.
Chapter president Andrew Cunningham was unavailable for comment on whether the Beta-Lambda chapter plans to file an appeal.
Wilson said if the chapter submits an appeal and successfully appears before the Kappa Sigma board, they may receive
lesser sanctions. But without an appeal, the chapter will likely return to campus after two or three years, he said.
“We really need to wait for this process to complete itself, and at that point in time, we will finalize with the University of Georgia what the future of the chapter will hold,” Wilson said.
With the chapter closed, fraternity members have moved out of the Kappa Sigma house on 160 River Road, said Eric Atkinson, associate dean of students.
Atkinson said the Kappa Sigma House Corporation owns the lease for the property, so the University is working with them to sublease the house to another organization.
He said it hasn’t been decided yet if Kappa Sigma violated the University Code of Conduct and if the members will receive punishment.
“We met with their chapter president, and the fraternity was unwilling to provide us any information about the investigation,” Atkinson said. “We are still trying to gather information. We asked the headquarters for their findings, which they have not provided us yet.”
The University Office of Student Conduct began investigating Kappa Sigma in November after receiving a letter from the national fraternity and a student complaint from former Red & Black Editor in Chief Daniel Burnett.
“When I say ‘investigation,’ they met with the chapter president, we contacted nationals, and neither were willing to provide us any information,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson also said this incidence should prompt members of Greek organizations to reevaluate if they’re following codes properly.
“We’ve always taken hazing seriously, so we’ll continue to do what we’ve done and what we’re made aware of,” Atkinson said.
Though Kappa Sigma is leaving campus, Pi Kappa Phi is returning to campus after being suspended by the University in March 2010 following hazing allegations.
The chapter will operate on a restricted basis until May 15, and it is on probation until Dec. 15, 2014. This means that if there is any violation of University or fraternity policy, the chapter could be closed down completely to return at a later date, said Mark Timmes, national chief executive officer of Pi Kappa Phi.
Timmes said the fall 2009 pledge class will be the only members returning this semester. Elections for new Pi Kappa Phi fraternity officers, including the president, were held in November 2010.
“We’re rebuilding the chapter around them,” Timmes said. “This will just be pre-organization semester with making sure the students are appropriately trained.”
There are now about 20 members instead of the 80 to 90 before the suspension, Timmes said. He also said a new recruitment class won’t be accepted until fall 2011.
Timmes said Pi Kappa Phi is taking some steps to ensure the chapter is run “appropriately,” including having an adviser present during the next several initiation cycles.
“We’re redesigning a whole new member education program this semester,” he said. “We hope to move forward in a positive way.”
Wilson said Kappa Sigma also wants its chapter at the University to act more properly in the future.
“We want our chapters to function and do things the right way, and we’re blessed that the majority of our chapters do that, but from time to time, there are situations that occur in which chapters are closed,” Wilson said. “It’s never pleasant, but it’s something that’s real.”
KAPPA SIGMA SUSPENSION TIMELINE
Sept. 15, 2010: Nationals suspends the Beta-Lambda chapter.
Nov. 12-13, 2010: The national office of Kappa Sigma conducts a membership review.
Dec. 12, 2010: The Beta-Lambda chapter is expelled by the national organization.