Following the termination of its UCSB recognition and state charges of illegal hazing, the Santa Barbara chapter of Sigma Chi was placed on probation by the fraternity’s national headquarters.
Criminal charges were filed earlier this month against four members of the fraternity as a result of the alleged hazing incident that occurred on Nov. 16, 2006, when a student over the age of 21 was hospitalized for alcohol poisoning. Preceding the incident, UCSB revoked the fraternity’s university recognition in summer 2006 for a series of violations.
Sigma Chi Vice President Glenn Osborne said that after the criminal charges were filed against the fraternity members, the chapter was put on probation by its national group.
“It’s just a temporary probation period within our national fraternity,” Osborne said. “They’re re-evaluating our status at the school and as a house.”
However, Sigma Chi International Headquarters Government Relations member Mark Anderson said the decision was made in light of the fact that the university had already ceased to recognize the organization.
“If [the chapter] was going to have a good opportunity to thrive, it needed to have the support of the institution,” Anderson said.
According to a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. report, the alleged victim was consensually kidnapped, bound with duct tape and drawn on with markers. The man, whose blood alcohol content peaked at 0.56 percent, lost consciousness after consuming Bacardi rum. He was taken to the hospital after concerned members called the man’s friends.
On Nov. 2, 2007, Scott Vincent Toyama, John H. Miller, Karim Almoez Megji and Christopher Vincent Collier pled not guilty to allegedly violating the state education code, which prohibits hazing likely to result in injury.
According to Osborne, the alleged victim was a fourth-year member of the fraternity who was over 21 years of age.
“It is not a hazing incident,” Osborne said. “He was not pledging and he had been in the house all four years.”
Earlier, the university had attempted to discipline the students allegedly involved via the Student Faculty Conduct Committee. However, the committee was unable to proceed as a result of the alleged victim’s refusal to cooperate.
UCSB Greek Affairs Director Stephan A. Franklin said the university has not acknowledged the fraternity for nearly a year and a half already, however, members had continued making efforts to remain a united association on campus.
“We terminated their recognition in June of 2006,” Franklin said. “They have been fighting ever since.”
Additionally, Franklin said the UCSB chapter of Sigma Chi lost its university status after its parties and pledging practices were deemed dangerous to the welfare and wellbeing of the school.
“Based on the hearing and information gathered over the years, we had to separate our relationship because [Sigma Chi was] putting the university at risk and putting other students at risk,” Franklin said.
The decision to terminate did not come suddenly, but was provoked after a series of alleged violations. Most of the offenses were committed over the 2003-04 academic year. The following fall, members of the house convened to self-review the legal hazards they faced and dismissed problematic affiliates.
In 2005, the nationwide society of Sigma Chi adopted a zero-tolerance policy with regards to illegal hazing rituals held to induct new members while pledging.
Franklin said the former members of Sigma Chi are supposed to disband at this point in time.
However, Osborne said the fraternity would stick together and had no plans to give up its house at 6501 El Greco Rd.