UCSB Greek Affairs is still awaiting reply from the Sigma Chi Fraternity International Headquarters, after asking the organization last month to revoke the local chapter’s charter.
Last spring, Greek Affairs Director Stephan Franklin said the university revoked Sigma Chi’s university certification after it violated a number of risk management policies. According to the Greek Affairs website, such violations could include serving alcohol at social events, hazing and sexual abuse as well as fire, health and safety problems. Greek Affairs declined to state what policies had been violated.
Karina Shaver of Sigma Chi International Headquarters said in an e-mail that she is aware of UCSB’s concern with Sigma Chi, but the terms under which a chapter loses its national charter are case specific. She said she would not “speculate further” about Sigma Chi losing its charter.
“Certainly, the international headquarters of Sigma Chi is aware that the chapter has lost its university recognition; however, as a matter of policy, Sigma Chi does not comment on rumors,” Shaver said.
Sigma Chi President Travis Wong said the fraternity continues to be active despite university wishes. He said that according to Greek Affairs policy, Sigma Chi could not regain university recognition until it shuts down its house completely and cancels its national charter for four years.
“I would love for Sigma Chi to have recognition again, but I understand there’s a process to go through first,” Wong said. “We understand we won’t be recognized by the school again until we shut down completely. No decisions have been made to shut down; we have to vote upon that as a house.”
Wong said the UCSB community has not been accepting of the fraternity, even after it made efforts to rekindle positive ties.
“We have been dealing with a lot of harassment in general,” Wong said. “We get anonymous letters bashing our house. People spray painted our rush signs. During graduation weekend, people passed out flyers that made accusations about our house.”
Wong said most of the problems that led to Sigma Chi losing its university recognition occurred before most of the present members were involved with the house.
“There was an unfortunate relationship with the school before I was even a part of the house,” Wong said. “We violated risk management policies of the university based on instances with the house – all of which happened before 80 percent of our house was in it. [The] most serious happened before Fall 2004.”
Prior to losing recognition, Wong said Sigma Chi took measures to help solve problems with the university.
“Fall 2005 we self-imposed a chapter review, which is unheard of,” Wong said. “We chose to remove members that were problematic that the school was unhappy with. We thought this would have helped solve this problem.”
Wong said Greek Affairs accused Sigma Chi of hazing this past November after a member went to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital for alcohol poisoning. He said the incident was not affiliated with Sigma Chi and it could not have been hazing because the man was an already active member of the fraternity.
“[The university] accused us of hazing,” Wong said. “He got too drunk at an off-site apartment house. He’s a fourth-year, he’s over 21 and he was drinking with and without Sigma Chi members. He chose to drink himself; it was an unfortunate circumstance.”
Sigma Chi continues to participate in all the regular fraternity activities, including donating $2,000 in toys to I.V. Elementary through the Sigma Chi Santa philanthropy and carving pumpkins last Halloween with local children, Wong said.
However, due to the loss of university recognition, he said Sigma Chi could not be involved in the university-organized rush. Regardless, Wong said they still recruit new members through word of mouth and friends of current members.
“We are trying to do our own things to be a positive influence in the community,” Wong said.
Sigma Chi member Dan Schneiderman agrees with Wong’s optimism for the fraternity.
“I know it’s a great group of guys,” Schneiderman said. “We’re a great fraternity and we still have our [national] charter.”