Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Georgia Fraternity Gets Probation for Underage Drinking

Sigma Chi gains probation following party that spurred lawsuit

The University of Georgia chapter of Sigma Chi Fraternity was put on probation after hosting a party where they served alcohol to minors and ignored risk management protocol, which resulted in severe injuries to one partygoer.

The underage woman who sustained the injuries filed a lawsuit against the fraternity in Athens-Clarke County Superior Court, stating she was invited to the party as one fraternity member's guest and served numerous alcoholic beverages "to the extent she became highly and obviously intoxicated."

According to the lawsuit, the fraternity brother who brought her to the party took her to his loft bed which was several feet above the floor and had no railing. He removed her dress and planned to "return to sleep with her," then left the room for 45 minutes.

When he returned, the woman had fallen off the loft and was bleeding from her mouth and ear, soaking the carpet with her blood and teeth fragments. The woman had 19 damaged and missing teeth, damage to her ear canal, a fracture to her mandible and nerve damage. She is requesting the fraternity pay her medical expenses in excess of $100,000.

As a result of the fraternity's probation, they will be allowed to hold only seven social events where alcohol is served, in addition to informal tailgates during football season. Members of the fraternity will also be required to attend several educational programs, according to the organization's informal resolution agreement.

The fraternity member named in the lawsuit as having invited the woman to the party has also been put on probation for alcohol related misconduct after being arrested by University Police and charged with underage possession of alcohol and possession of a fake ID.

Sigma Chi has not been the only fraternity to run in to trouble this summer.

Two University students were arrested last month after hiding two streakers from police in the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house. One student locked police out of the house and "stood at the door with a half smile," according to police reports. The other student opened the door but blocked the officers' entry.

Both students were charged with obstructing a law enforcement officer and allegedly refusing to ID the streakers, who were not found.

During the summer's first orientation session, an incoming freshman was arrested and charged with underage possession of alcohol and possession of a fake ID after attending a fraternity party. The arrest sparked a flurry of communications among the Interfraternity Council, Greek Life Office and Panhellenic Council, reminding fraternity and sorority members not to disrupt orientation.However, it seems the warnings haven't worked. After returning from orientation, one parent felt the need to contact the Interfraternity Council complaining about a fraternity.

"My son was invited to a fraternity house Monday night where he was offered a beer and witnessed alcoholic beverages being consumed," one parent said in an e-mail. "I thought you might want to know this and warn these kids to be careful in how they conduct themselves."

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