Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Drexel Fraternity Web Site Gets Them Suspended

Delta Sigma Phi chapter suspended
By Aditi Dubey
The Triangle
Drexel University

The alumni of Delta Sigma Phi fraternity decided to suspend the Gamma Chi chapter at Drexel University June 13 amid allegations of X-rated pictures of female Drexel students being posted on the group's internal Web site.

The current undergraduate members have been removed from the fraternity house, located at 214 N. 34th Street. The chapter will be reorganized in fall.The decision came after allegations were made against the fraternity for having objectionable content on their internal Web site, which only the brothers of the fraternity can access.

According to a message sent to the presidents of all Drexel sororities by an anonymous source, the Web site has links to Facebook profiles and had posted pictures of over a hundred women."Recently it has come to my attention that the brothers of Delta Sigma Phi have dedicated a portion of their member Web site to the degradation of Drexel women," the letter said. "Under headings such as 'jawn spotting' and 'smuts,' brothers can access your pictures, Facebook profile links, a list of brothers who have been with you, nicknames, comments about you and even a place where the men can rank you."The letter further said that this internal Web site also had "X-rated" content and derogatory "falsehoods" against the women, including whether or not they had any sexually transmitted diseases and accusations of sexual promiscuity."Not only is it voyeurism, and pornography, it is also morally wrong," the letter said. "I can not even express in this e-mail how disgusted and disturbed I was to see the comments written about some of your unsuspecting women. I leave it to every chapter to handle this situation as they please."

The sender of the above letter is not yet identified to the public and it could not be ascertained whether all of the allegations against the fraternity are true. The entire Web site of the chapter has since been reorganized and the "brothers-only" section was deleted, according to Charles Williams, president of the Gamma Chi Alumni Corporation of Delta Sigma Phi.

"All of the current undergraduate members were immediately denied access to the brothers-only section of the Web site, which no longer exists," Williams said. "We took the word of our undergrads that some of these allegations were true and took action to make sure that none of this questionable content would ever be seen again. We worked with the Department of Public Safety to permanently destroy that content.

"Williams also said that the alumni of the chapter had no information that any of the above was going on since they have no access to the "brothers-only" section and were not aware of the objectionable content being posted on the site.

"The allegation that alumni had access to the brothers-only section of the Web site is absolutely and entirely false," Williams said. "Had any of our alumni known that there was content of a questionable nature on the Web site, action would have been taken immediately. There are over one thousand innocent Drexel alumni that are being libeled by this anonymous writer and I want that to be stopped immediately.

"The alumni of Delta Sig only have access to a member database, which is used to keep in touch with other members of the fraternity, and a calendar function letting them know about upcoming events, Williams told The Triangle.

"Our alumni board acted immediately and I personally confiscated the Web site server that evening to ensure that there would be no attempt at covering up," Williams said.

According to Williams, the undergraduate members admitted that some of the above allegations were true and the others were not."There were other serious allegations made that-as far as we can tell-were completely false," Williams said.

"What we found when we investigated was in poor taste, but we found no evidence at all of the worst accusations. The content in poor taste was still of great concern to us, as it did not align with our high moral standards and the values our organization represents.

"Williams also said that the decision of the alumni to reorganize the chapter was not solely based on the above incidents and allegations. "These allegations were not the primary driver of our decision to restructure the chapter," Williams said.

"Plans were already in motion, but this incident did provide us with the confidence and proof to move forward, and that what we were doing was necessary and right."Since March, the alumni have had concerns about whether the chapter had "the 'right' group of men" and therefore decided to keep both the individual and organizational performance of the chapter under close observation in order to reach the best decision, according to Williams.

"Our recent decision to re-structure the chapter came after nearly four months of observation, discussion and coordination with both the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and our national organization," Williams said.

In a letter sent to Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and the Greek community at the University, Williams wrote that the chapter was being suspended and because the undergraduate members were not holding up to the established, "non-negotiable" code-of-conduct.

"Grades, risk management and leadership, essential cornerstones to maintaining a healthy chapter, have been areas of increasing concern," said the letter from Williams. "These men are not bad men, but we have found that they are simply not living up to the lofty values that make Delta Sigma Phi the respected institution that we work so hard to protect…Effective Saturday, June 16th, the chapter as the campus currently knows it will cease operations and we will immediately begin re-building operations.

"A letter of apology has since been issued by the chapter president of the Delta Sigma Phi, Michael Colligan, to the chapter presidents of all the sororities on campus, saying that actions of those brothers were not in accordance with the values of Delta Sigma Phi and that the alumni are working diligently to "repair the wrongs in the chapter and bring a return to living the ideals of Delta Sigma Phi for all its members.

"E-mails sent to Colligan for comment were not returned. E-mails were also sent to other brothers of the fraternity, Jordan Eggles and David Zoltowski, who referred The Triangle back to Williams.

Another of the brothers, Eric Stephenson, a senior majoring in Entrepreneurship, said that most of the allegations in the anonymous letter were false."I did not have the opportunity to see the letter that went out to the sororities, although I know that it contained a lot of inaccurate information," Stephenson said.

"There were no naked pictures. Any pictures that were on the site were taken from Facebook or other public domains. Some of the pictures did have comments, to my knowledge none of them referenced STDs."

The Delta Sigma house, which is University-owned property, has not been shut down. According to Williams, the alumni took over the house for approximately one week to do some necessary repairs during the term-break. "At the beginning of summer term, a select group of 'core individuals,' who are undergraduates, will be invited to move back in to join the alumni advisors in the rebuilding process," Williams said.

"Our goal is to be back at full steam in the fall and participate in the fall rush process."The Office of FSL provided alternative housing options for the dislocated former members of Delta Sigma Phi. Accommodation in University residence halls was offered to the brothers and a list of available API apartments was provided as well.

"Delta Sigma Phi is an organization that believes in values, moral standards and gentlemanly conduct," Williams said. "We are taking this action to ensure the entire Drexel Community that those are not empty words."The fraternity has not been asked to leave the University campus and the Office of FSL has supported the reorganization.

"We want the fraternity on campus and they are still in good standing," said Stephen Rupprecht, assistant dean for Fraternity and Sorority Life."

Look for Delta Sig be back in the fall, stronger than ever," Stephenson said in an e-mail. "We've been one of the strongest chapters on this campus for over 50 years and we're not going anywhere."Rupprecht also said that the University has not closed a chapter on its own since the mid-1990s.

Just as for Delta Sigma Phi, it's usually the alumni or the student leaders that first address the concerns within a chapter."This is not the first time a chapter has been re-organized at Drexel and it certainly won't be the last time," Rupprecht said.

"We continue to challenge our alumni to provide oversight to their chapters that is consistent with the values of the organization. When the students demonstrate behavior that is ever inconsistent with the organization values, we expect someone from the alumni advisory team to address this behavior if the student leadership does not."The University steps in only if the students do not correct this behavior and if the alumni do not correct this behavior, Rupprecht told The Triangle.

The Office of FSL is confident that the reorganization will be a positive step for the chapter."By looking at a larger view of their organization, they [alumni of Delta Sigma Phi] determined that the organization was not going in the direction they wished it to, so instead of just doing nothing they decided to take responsibility for the future direction of the organization," Rupprecht said.

"This is exactly what our alumni boards are supposed to do; they made a very good decision and a proactive decision."Also, the Panhellenic Council at the University has since approved 'a proposal regarding the victimization of women' to establish a protocol for the sororities to take action against incidents similar to this."Delta Sigma Phi incident was the catalyst for the composition of this proposal," Katie Ludgate, president of PHC and a sophomore majoring in communications, said. "However, this proposal does not strictly apply to this isolated incident. It is a working protocol for future reference if something like this were to happen again."


Delta Sigma Phi chapter suspended - News