Sigma Phi Epsilon closes following charter revocation

by Elizabeth Janowski | 10/12/18 2:35am

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by Sergio Carvallo / The Dartmouth

The national board of directors of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity announced that it has reached a unanimous decision to pull the charter of Dartmouth’s Sig Ep chapter, closing the fraternity effective immediately. The decision comes several months after the national board initially suspended the chapter’s charter and conducted a membership review that removed around 80 percent of its members.

“The Headquarters staff and New Hampshire Alpha alumni and volunteers have invested considerable time and energy to … ensure the success of our chapter at Dartmouth College,” Sig Ep chief executive officer Brian Warren wrote in a statement on Wednesday to the members of Dartmouth’s Sig Ep chapter. “Unfortunately, recent events clearly illustrate that the membership is not committed to living by our values and meeting the Fraternity’s minimum expectations.”

College spokesperson Diana Lawrence noted in an email statement that the suspension of Sig Ep’s charter will last until winter 2021, after which the chapter may be granted the possibility of returning to campus.

In a statement posted on the chapter’s Facebook page, Sig Ep strategic communications director Andrew Parrish attributed the chapter’s closure to a string of alcohol-related violations that occurred while the chapter was already on probation.

“The chapter’s violations have demonstrated a consistent desire to perpetuate an experience rooted in alcohol,” Parrish’s statement said.

In August 2017, Sig Ep National adopted a substance-free policy seeking to ban alcohol and other illicit substances from all chapter houses by 2020.

Warren’s statement further cited Sig Ep’s failure to meet guidelines set by the Alumni Advisory Council and Headquarters staff in the months following the membership review as a reason for the chapter’s closure. He noted that over the summer, the Alumni Council and the NH Alpha Alumni and Volunteer Corporation, which owns the chapter’s house, requested additional staff members to support the chapter’s progress on these expectations, but the chapter continued to voice its desire to become a local organization instead.

Office of Greek Life director Brian Joyce said that he will not be considering the localization of Sig Ep’s Dartmouth chapter at this time, as the College does not consider requests from chapters not in good standing with their national organizations.

Per Sig Ep National’s charter revocation, all current members have been suspended from the fraternity for the remainder of their undergraduate careers, according to Warren’s statement. They will not be permitted to wear apparel bearing the fraternity’s insignia, recruit new members or sponsor or hold events under Sig Ep’s name. Members still living in the house will be permitted to remain there until the end of the fall term, after which they will be re-assigned College housing. After graduation, Sig Ep members in good standing with the national organization will be eligible for alumni status.

The Dartmouth chapter will launch a program to re-focus its policies around maintaining a substance-free facility in an effort to eventually regain its charter, according to the statement on its Facebook page.

“Chapter improvement is a priority of the Dartmouth Office of Greek Life,” Lawrence wrote. “We support the national organization’s desire to elevate standards for their chapters, and we look forward to working with the national organization’s leadership and all members of the Dartmouth community to plan for a successful return of the chapter.”

According to Lawrence’s email, the AVC is working with the College on a two-year lease agreement for the Sig Ep house located on Webster Avenue. The use of the house is not yet determined at this time, though the College does not plan to house an organization in the facility, Lawrence wrote.

Senior chapter services director Paul Andersen and former Dartmouth Sig Ep president David Ringel ’19 did not respond to requests for comment by press time. AVC president John-David “JD” Optekar ’91 Th’92 and vice president of programming Nicholas Weir ’09 declined requests for comment.