Sunday, January 28, 2007

National Office Closes Lehigh Kappa Sigs

Kappa Sigma loses its charter

By Madelyn King
Assistant News Editor
The Brown and White

The charter of the Lehigh University chapter of Kappa Sigma has been revoked because of a violation of the fraternity’s code of conduct, said Mitchell Wilson, Kappa Sigma fraternity’s national executive director.The decision is effective immediately, Wilson said.

Lehigh was contacted by the national charter through telephone Monday morning to inform the university of the chapter’s status.Kappa Sig President Greg Shurts, ’08, said the Code of Conduct violation referred to a registered party that took place during the fall 2006 semester.

“The event itself was a Lehigh registered party,” Shurts said. “It went very smoothly.”

However, the morning after the registered party, members of the fraternity volunteered to help initiate new members into the Kutztown University chapter, but they got lost and were late to the event, Shurts said.Their tardiness prompted the fraternity’s district grand master to come to Kappa Sig’s house on Lehigh’s campus. Once inside, their adviser found a few bottles of liquor in the garbage, a violation of their alcohol policy.

According to Kappa Sig’s alcohol policy, “No chapter of Kappa Sigma fraternity may purchase alcoholic beverages with chapter funds, nor may any member, in the name of or behalf of the chapter, coordinate the collection or provide any funds for such a purpose.”Shurts said a bottle of hard alcohol is technically considered “common containers,” which violates the national policy.

The fraternity was reported to nationals by their district grand master and was summoned to attend a “show cause hearing.”“Basically, at a show cause hearing you plead your case,” Shurts said. “You have 20 minutes to explain why you should remain a charter.”

Tom Dubreuil, associate dean of students, said Lehigh was aware that the fraternity was attending a show cause hearing due to violations of the Kappa Sigma Code of Conduct. Dubreuil said the chapter was not in violation of Lehigh policies and Kappa Sig had no Lehigh Code of Conduct violations since Aug. 27, 2004.

Brothers must be out of the house by Feb. 2 at 12 p.m., Dubreuil said.

Brothers can contact Lehigh for an extension if there are extenuating circumstances. Lehigh staff met with the men to discuss their housing options and answer any questions they had, Dubreuil said.

Eight members of the fraternity traveled to Albuquerque, N. M., on Jan. 20 to present their case to their nationals.“They had their mind made up before we even started,” Shurts said. “They kept bringing up all of this past stuff and wouldn’t let us talk.”

According to Shurts, members of the fraternity took accreditation write-ups and recommendations from Lehigh to the meeting, but all were overlooked.“We were totally bummed out,” Shurts said. “We were trying our best to offer any sort of plea.

We offered to be dry. We offered that they could kick us out, but keep Kappa Sig at Lehigh.”

According to Wilson, Kappa Sigma is nationally a fraternity with very strict policies.“This particular incident toward the end of the fall semester just gave us further indication that the chapter had not reformed as they had told us when they came off trusteeship,” Wilson said. Trusteeship is a term used to describe the process a chapter goes through during reorganization.

Shurts said their chapter has worked extremely hard to uphold the standards of the fraternity and to change the image of the house.“We used to be a bit of an ‘animal house’ in the past, in the late 90s, early 2000s,” Shurts said. “We did a lot to change the house and we haven’t gotten in trouble, but they kept bringing up past stuff.”

Shurts said their hard work to change the house’s image in the past years was not enough to keep their charter.“They voted and they revoked it right then and there,” Shurts said.Wilson said they were extremely saddened and enjoyed a long history at Lehigh.“We certainly have enjoyed a very long history at Lehigh and it sickens us to close a chapter that is 106 years old,” Wilson said. “But if you don’t stand for your values, then what do you stand for?”

Shurts was frustrated by the events and the judgment made by national headquarters.“Our charter was revoked by the national fraternity who never met us personally, who had never seen our house, and they don’t see our progress,” Shurts said.

Dubreuil said they will comply with Kappa Sigma headquarters on their decisions and work with the brothers of the fraternity to help them through this transition.“We’re disappointed anytime a Lehigh organization ceases to exist,” Dubreuil said, “but we accept the judgment of the Kappa Sigma headquarters and will work with our students and alumni to comply.”

“Sophomores will have to live on campus,” Dubreuil said, “and juniors and seniors have the option of living on or off campus.”Shurts said the school and even other fraternity members have really helped during this process.“They’ve all been extremely helpful in finding us houses,” Shurts said. “All the other fraternities have been great. They’ve offered rooms in their own houses and in houses off campus. Overall, the entire school has been amazing, and we’re really thankful for that.”

Dubreuil said Lehigh can accommodate the extra students, even after Alpha Chi Rho fraternity lost their on-campus housing privileges and members of the fraternity moved into Lehigh housing.“Not all of the juniors and seniors in Alpha Chi Rho chose to remain on campus,” Dubreuil said. “Additionally, we typically have more spaces open up during spring semester due to more students studying abroad.”

Dubreuil said no decision has been made when asked if the Alpha Chi Omega and Pi Beta Phi sororities would be moving into Kappa Sig and Crow’s houses.Wilson said he hopes to one day return Kappa Sig to Lehigh University.

“The people I feel most sorry for today are the alumni,” Wilson said, “who are not the cause of this action but who have tried to work with this chapter. So, my promise to them is that someday we will return to Lehigh and we will once again be a fraternity that contributes to the Greek system in a positive fashion.”

Tyler Rock, president of the Interfraternity Council, said Kappa Sig will be missed by the Greek community and all of Lehigh.“It’s extremely sad that Kappa Sig will be gone,” Rock said. “It will really be felt by the Greek community, and it’s already really being felt right now.”According to Shurts, all brothers in the house will be considered alumni members in good standing.“The biggest thing is, we’re still brothers of Kappa Sigma, and we’re all going to keep our involvement,” Shurts said. “It’s not just the walls of the house, it’s the guys. We may be off the Hill, but we’ll still be around.”