On October 16, the Colgate University Student Conduct Board charged the 42-member Gamma Omicron Chapter of Sigma Chi Fraternity (Sigma Chi) with violating three University policies, and decided it will no longer be recognized as a fraternity by the University. The allegations against Sigma Chi included violations of the Code of Student Conduct, the University hazing policy and the University’s Relationship Statement with student organizations. The 30 men residing in the on-campus house have 10 days, until October 26, to vacate their residence, located at 100 Hamilton Street near Campus Safety.
“In my capacity as Dean of the College and a non-voting member of the Conduct Board for Organizational Cases, I upheld that sanction, stipulating that all operations must cease and the fraternity will no longer be recognized on campus,” Dean of the College Suzy Nelson said in an email to the Colgate Community. Nelson refused to comment further. President Jeffrey Herbst did not respond to any emails regarding the issue.
The former members of Sigma Chi plan to appeal the decision that mandates their removal from the house within 10 days, and are considering appealing the overall sanction. The appeal will grant them the ability to remain in the house under uncertain terms for an unidentified amount of time. Even if it fails, the delay allows them more time in the house.
During the investigation, the former members did not know the nature of the evidence against them, according to former member of Sigma Chi junior Jack McCaslin.
“So we were generally hopeful, but once we received the evidence and learned, to a degree, its source, most people – at least I did – started to lose hope,” McCaslin said.
The allegations against Sigma Chi were widely discussed on campus during the week of fraternity recruitment in September, when most students learned that Sigma was not allowed to have a pledge class this year.
“In this time of great woe, it is important to remember the life of Sigma Chi, not its death. Let us take a moment to reflect upon all of the good Sigma Chi has brought to the Colgate community over the years through its titanic presence, utter domination of Intramural sports and the historic deeds of its brothers. Sigma Chi has lived a rich and full life, enduring multiple years of probation, a member review and constant attention from our fine members of Campus Safety. In regard to the general attitude of the fraternity, I am unfortunately incapable of portraying precisely where brothers are in the five stages of grief,” senior and former Vice President, Rush Chair, Kitchen Manager and Dishwasher of Sigma Chi senior Jacob Friedberg said.
Senior and President of Interfraternity Council (IFC) Peter McGrath had no comment.
McCaslin urged for students and faculty to consider their sources of information and understand the biases he sees that the administration has against Greek Life and Sigma Chi because of past infractions.
“Most people not in Sigma Chi [don’t understand] what goes on in the house and what it means to be a brother,” McCaslin said.
Going into the hearing by the Student Conduct Board, Sigma Chi did accept limited guilt for some charges levied against them. It denied some charges and admitted others, eventually being found guilty on all counts. The school cited anonymous sources for its evidence and anonymous witness testimony as well.
Sigma Chi Fraternity is the first Greek-letter organization to be officially removed by Colgate University since Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority in 2008 and Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity in 2004. This leaves five fraternities and three sororities left as recognized entities at Colgate.
Former Assistant Dean of Student Life Fouad Saleet did not answer attempts to reach him for comment.
After the decision was released on Friday, Campus Safety officers showed up in force at the Sigma Chi house that night to prevent students who did not live there from entering, but allowing everyone inside to remain there.
“All I really have to say about the whole thing is that we’re being punished at exactly the wrong time. Sigma Chi is not the fraternity it used to be, and the two current (well, ex-current) classes had been working really hard to align Sigma Chi with the direction this school is heading. We were cooperative and open with the Conduct Board and asked them to give us one more chance to show them that we can and will operate in an appropriate manner, but they decided we didn’t deserve that chance. I understand that from the outside it may not be as evident that Sigma Chi has been changing, but all true and lasting change begins internally,” former President of Sigma Chi senior Will Ely said. “We had made the first steps, we were poised to really get the ball rolling and then the school cut our legs from under us. It really is a shame that Suzy Nelson and the Conduct Board didn’t have faith in our ability to move the fraternity in the