Frat leaders blames bar owner after police raid
Event was fundraiser for pandas
By Marcia Moore The Daily Item
LEWISBURG -- Bucknell University's Sigma Phi Epsilon sponsored the fundraiser for panda preservation at Big Andy's Bar and Grill in Milton on Friday that ended in a law enforcement raid, but fraternity president Peter Lansinger denies any responsibility for the 90 or so people cited for underage drinking.
"Our fraternity does not condone underage drinking," Lansinger said Tuesday, adding it was bar owner Andy Keister Jr.'s responsibility to not serve anyone under 21.
Lansinger says he doubts Sigma Phi's local charter is in jeopardy.
Bucknell University public relations director Tom Evelyn said the incident is under review and couldn't say if the fraternity faces any sanctions.
Although there's nothing wrong with the fraternity holding a private party, Evelyn said, university officials are investigating the allegations of underage drinking.
Lansinger said a busing agency was hired to transport about 350 people to Friday's event, called Pandamonium, at the Front Street nightclub, and participants were invited to wear black and white.
He said identifications of each bus rider were checked by Sigma Phi to make sure only university students were taken to the event. But, Lansinger said, it was Keister's responsibility to make sure the individuals who entered the bar were of legal age.
About two-thirds of the fraternity's 90 members attended the fundraiser, which collected $5,600, he said.
At one point during the evening, Keister alerted law enforcement about alleged underage drinking, and members of the state liquor control enforcement, and Milton, Lewisburg, Watsontown and Point Township police raided the bar.
Police reported that more than 90 people, mostly Bucknell University students, were cited for underage drinking as well as disorderly conduct and public drunkenness.
While Lansinger declined to talk about the charges stemming from the raid, he was willing to talk about Sigma Phi Epsilon's long-standing involvement in fundraising efforts.
"We outdo all the fraternities in philanthropy," Lansinger said. "Last year we were the number one fraternity in terms of fundraising, with $310 raised per brother. We do a great job in terms of getting people involved, and I don't think this (raid) will leave a black mark."
The main reason the fraternity decided to hold the Pandamonium event at Big Andy's last weekend was due to the overwhelming success of a fundraiser held at the bar in October.
Lansinger said Sigma Phi co-sponsored an event with Globe-Net, a student organization promoting awareness of Third World nations, that attracted hundreds to the Milton bar and raised $11,000 for the charity.
He acknowledged that the fraternity has been criticized for holding its latest fundraiser to save pandas, but said SigEp has raised thousands in the past year for the American Cancer Society.
We just wanted to spice it up and spread the money around," Lansinger said.
Sigma Phi Epsilon is the nation's largest social fraternity in terms of undergraduate membership. It is among 20 active fraternity and sororities on the Bucknell campus.
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