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The Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter at Tech had an "ongoing history" of troubling incidents, a school spokesman said.
SAM OWENS | The Roanoke Times
Sigma Phi Epsilon’s new fraternity house at Virginia Tech cost $5.1 million, but this past semester, members damaged, defaced and urinated on it. The chapter was shut down last week.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
The Virginia Tech chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon that recently moved into a $5.1 million on-campus facility has been disbanded for misconduct.
The Tech SigEp chapter had an “ongoing history of alcohol and hazing violations,” university spokesman Mark Owczarski said.
The problems were “not being addressed by the members of the chapter,” Owczarski said. “We’re dealing with the well-being of students, and that’s paramount.”
Owczarski cited privacy concerns in declining to detail the student conduct violations that led to the dissolution of the chapter. But he called the problems “very serious allegations.”
According to a statement issued by Richmond-based SigEp Executive Director Brian Warren, the organization has closed the Tech chapter . No specific reasons were given, but the statement hinted at long-standing problems.
“For the past two years, fraternity staff members and local volunteers have been working to effect change, with little response from undergraduate members,” Warren wrote.
The chapter was officially shut down this week, according to a letter dated May 28 and sent to SigEp affiliates by the Virginia Kappa Alumni and Volunteer Corporation Directors and Alumni Advisory Council Members. The Roanoke Times obtained the letter from Tech officials.
According to the letter, alumni and fraternity officials plan to work to re-establish SigEp at Tech.
This “is not the end for our chapter. We will not allow a small group of irresponsible brothers to ruin Virginia Kappa’s legacy,” the letter stated.
Fraternity alumni, including former Virginia Tech Board of Visitors Rector John Lawson, signed the letter.
“In the immediate future, we will begin to prepare for the chapter’s return to campus and strengthen our network of alumni support,” the letter stated. “We must ensure our investment in the chapter house is protected for future brothers by completing our capital fundraising campaign and honoring the financial commitments we have made to Virginia Tech.”
Those commitments include raising one-third of the $5.1 million construction costs and donating it to the Tech Foundation.
The SigEp house was the first Greek facility built under a new cost-sharing agreement available to fraternities and sororities wishing to have a housing facility on campus.
Under the program, Greek organizations wishing to construct a house in the Oak Lane subdivision may design a facility to house 32 or more students and must share in the cost of the facility. That share of the cost is considered a philanthropic donation to the university, but is not a stake in ownership of the property.
According to Owczarski, the university owns the house built for the SigEp chapter. But now that the chapter has been disbanded, the former SigEp brothers who had been slated to fill the 32 beds in the chapter house will have to find other housing for fall semester, Owczarski said.
Those students are not banned from on-campus housing per se. However, Owczarski said dormitory assignments have already been made for the fall semester. In recent years, Tech has had a shortage of on-campus housing because of remodeling or replacement of old dormitories.
Meanwhile, Tech’s housing and residence life department has begun work on a plan to convert the SigEp facility to a themed “living-learning” community that will be made available to non-Greek students, Owczarski said.
Several on-campus housing facilities have themed halls or entire dormitories. These facilities cater to specific interests, such as leadership development and community service.
SigEp could eventually re-establish a Tech chapter. Owczarski said under current procedures for Greek organizations, it could take up to two years to do so.
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