Monday, February 04, 2008

Four Cornell Freshmen Hospitalized from Fraternity Event

Cornell U. Sigma Pi Chapter Suspended
By Sam Cross, Cornell Daily Sun

After sending four freshmen to the Cayuga Medical Center due to excessive alcohol consumption at a Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 17, the Cornell University chapter of Sigma Pi lost its official University recognition.

With this punishment, the chapter is not able to have any alcohol, is prohibited from hosting any social events and will not have a 2008 pledge class. Sigma Pi is not eligible to apply for recognition until Jan. 1, 2009.

According to the University, two of the four freshmen required life-sustaining medical treatment.

Many fraternities host Thanksgiving dinners to unofficially begin recruiting freshmen.

The decision to punish Sigma Pi was made by the Greek Judicial System after responding to the judicial violation.

Travis Apgar, associate dean of students for Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, chairs the fraternity and sorority review board that ultimately decided to revoke Sigma Pi's recognition.

"Although there was a lot of discussion about the incident, the discussion ended with a unanimous decision to revoke recognition. It is our role to review judicial violations and when an incident is so egregious, we must enact the necessary punishment."

Although the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs plays an active role in the health and safety of its fraternity and sorority members, it is not in control of the fraternities and sororities on campus. Nonetheless, the administration is making efforts to prevent a similar incident from recurring.

"The system itself is self-governing, which means that our role is one of support and not supervision," Apgar said. "Our foremost concern is the safety of our students. The things we are tying to do are clearly communicate our policies and our expectation of each fraternity and sorority. In the greek system, we call ourselves brothers and sisters. We should be the most caring part of the community. We do a number of educational sessions and partner with Gannett Health Services, putting things up about alcohol and substance abuse. A repeated message is the most effective message."

Donny Szirmak '11 attended the Thanksgiving dinner, but does not hold a grudge against the Sigma Pi fraternity or any of its brothers."What happened at the Thanksgiving dinner at Sigma Pi doesn't change my notion toward fraternities and my decision to pledge," Szirmak said.

"It was an honest mistake, one which clearly didn't represent the ideals of Sigma Pi or fraternities in general."

"Sigma Pi is traditionally one of the absolute best fraternities on Cornell's campus. This is typically a chapter we wouldn't expect this behavior from. Sigma Pi tends to produce many of the leaders on campus.

The fraternity must re-evaluate how they manage their chapter. We are tying to work closely with them along with their alumni and national chapter. We are confident that they will come back next January and correct their mistakes," Apgar said.

The brothers of Sigma Pi fraternity were unavailable for comment.