Monday, September 14, 2009

San Diego Sammies Expelled for Drug Activities

Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity has been expelled from San Diego State.
By Kristina Blake, Senior Staff Writer
Daily Aztec

In agreement with SDSU President Stephen L. Weber, SDSU Vice President for Student Affairs, James R. Kitchen, decided to expel the chapter from the campus community following a Chapter Review Panel hearing conducted by Student Affairs on Aug. 20.

The fraternity had been placed on interim suspension pending the outcome of the hearing by Kitchen after the SDSU Police Department searched a house on Lindo Paseo Drive on April 17 yielded a large quantity of illegal drugs and implicated Sigma Alpha Mu members in drug sales. The fraternity was required to cease all activities and maintain all chapter-related facilities alcohol and drug-free during the interim suspension. Still, on June 10, another police search of an apartment in the Sigma Alpha Mu section of Fraternity Row found illegal drugs and evidence of drug sales.

Between the two incidents, five people were arrested: three current students, one former student and one non-student.

SDSU Director of Media Relations and New Media, Greg Block, said that the university has a zero-tolerance policy toward illegal substances and activities.

“I think the message is that there’s no place for these types of activities on campus,” Block said. “This is a place where we want students to feel safe coming to school. We want students to learn and strive and grow and enjoy being in a college atmosphere and there’s no place in our college atmosphere for illegal drugs.”

Block added that the two recent incidents were not the first for the fraternity. In fact, he said that the fraternity has a history of policy violations for more than a year. Another of its violations is serving alcohol to minors. Additionally, during Operation Sudden Fall, the campus drug bust in the spring of 2008, the university placed Sigma Alpha Mu on interim suspension and later lifted it.

Block said that the expulsion isn’t directly related to Operation Sudden Fall and compared the two events to “apples and oranges.”

“Each incident is reviewed on its own merits over the course of time and disciplinary actions, if they need to be taken, are taken for each incident,” Block said. “These latest, because it was involving the dealing of illegal narcotics, took it to a whole nother level and that’s just not something that’s tolerated on campus.”

Tyler Taylor, who became the president of Sigma Alpha Mu in the summer, said that the university’s decision was unexpected.

“It’s shocking. It’s like you’ve been devoted to something for so long and then it’s gone,” Taylor, an international business senior, said. “It’s like losing a big part of your life; and then, afterwards, you’re wondering what you’re going to be doing next.”

Taylor said the decision was fair, but he believes the punishment was too harsh. The expulsion revokes recognition of the fraternity on campus as an organization for at least four years. The national fraternity can apply for reinstatement after the end of the Spring 2013 semester.

While no one was available for comment at the fraternity headquarters, Taylor said he believes they will apply to be reinstated in the future. The chapter has already filed an appeal for a lesser punishment.

He said that it seems like the greek community is continually blamed for wrongdoings.
“It’s not just the Greeks; (drugs are) everywhere,” Taylor said. “I hate to say this, but it’s college.”

Block agreed that some may “point a finger at the Greek system,” but argues they should not.

“This should not be seen as an indictment of the Greek system. It’s an unfortunate situation that’s happened. It’s not something that we like to do or that we take lightly, but it is something that would happen again if others choose to engage in these types of activities,” Block said. “There are a lot of good people in the Greek system and fraternities and sororities do a lot of good things for our campus and for our community. I think that should be understood and people should remember that.”
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