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Underground Brothers

Two weeks ago, Sigma Pi fraternity brothers handed out 2,000 alcohol awareness playing cards to students passing by the Bell Tower. One card, an ace of spades, carried the message of Samantha Spady, a student who died an alcohol-related death. Even though the members of Sigma Pi passed out these cards and are involved in… Read more »

Two weeks ago, Sigma Pi fraternity brothers handed out 2,000 alcohol awareness playing cards to students passing by the Bell Tower. One card, an ace of spades, carried the message of Samantha Spady, a student who died an alcohol-related death. Even though the members of Sigma Pi passed out these cards and are involved in other forms of community service, they aren’t considered a recognized fraternity, at least in the eyes of Temple.

Sigma Pi lost its national and university charters in 2002 because of hazing charges. Since that time, the fraternity has been trying to rebuild its infrastructure and credibility on campus.

“We were told [our suspension] would be two years, but, you can see it’s been more,” said Chris Berean, secretary of Sigma Pi.

Beginning this spring, the fraternity will reclaim its national charter. David Reed, president of Sigma Pi, said he is wondering why the university hasn’t extended a similar invitation.

“We’ve been showing the stuff that we need to be doing, including community service and philanthropy,” Reed said.

This semester, Sigma Pi has participated in the Alzheimer Association Memory Walk of 2005 and a blood drive. Although the fraternity has been working to regain national recognition, it hasn’t received any indication the university will honor its legitimacy.

“We’ve tried to meet with the president, dean of students, the Greek advisers – they won’t meet with us,” Berean said. “We’re doing community service, but they won’t give us the time of day.”

Reed added the importance of the fraternity’s presence on campus.

“I think it’s ironic that they don’t look to try and get us back because Russell Conwell was a huge part of [Temple’s] history … and he’s the founder of our chapter,” Reed said.

Sigma Pi isn’t the only former fraternity that is currently without Temple’s recognition. Pi Lambda Phi lost its Temple charter last semester after the fraternity was charged with a list of offenses by the University Disciplinary Council. However, Pi Lambda Phi has retained its national charter. The fraternity has been pushing for Temple affiliation, but said it has not been well-received.

“We feel that Temple is our college, and we will do whatever we can to get recognized by Temple again,” said Matthew Konya, former president of Pi Lambda Phi. “That’s what we want to do; that’s what we have to do to survive. But in the same sense, you can’t survive when someone’s there to push you every time you fall. We feel like every time we slip up, it’s like, here we go again.”

As reported by The Temple News, Sigma Phi Epsilon, the residents of 2012 North Broad St., lost its Temple and national charters in Jan. 2005 for allegations including hazing and indecent assault. Sigma Phi Epsilon will be eligible to regain its university recognition next semester. Members of the fraternity declined comment.

The university had made attempts to work with those unaffiliated fraternities, according to Associate Dean of Students Kathryn P. D’Angelo.

“We’ve continued to stress working with them,” but D’Angelo continued, “If you’re affiliated with Temple as an organization, it is your responsibility to put forth what this community values, the university values.”

D’Angelo said those fraternities have not shown those values.

“[The Temple community is] frustrated with the activity that’s continuing to go on, and it’s stemming from those three dissolved organizations that have been recognized as fraternity houses … they are those three properties located … at 2000, 2012 and 2022 Broad St.,” D’Angelo said. “That behavior placed other students at risk.”

Matthew Sherer, president of the Interfraternity Council, said the IFC acts as a liaison between the university and its members. Even though the IFC is in its “infancy,” Sherer said, all fraternities are encouraged to join. “The more members we get, the stronger we become,” he said. “We want more chapters to be in it.”

The problem, he said, is that those nonaffiliated fraternities are “not accountable in the eyes of the university.”

The IFC, made up of Alpha Epsilon Pi, Alpha Tau Omega and Tau Kappa Epsilon, had eight members in 2001. As a whole, despite the growing population of Temple’s Main Campus, the percentage of all Greek members has been cut in half since 2001.

Temple Police Deputy Director Charles Leone said the police department has been working with the university to streamline the infrastructure of the Temple University Greek Association.

“Some of the groups that are not under TUGA … are out there on their own, putting themselves together on their own,” Leone said. “How do we bring them into the fold? We want to bring them in under that umbrella.

“A lot of the students are frustrated. Again, we do a lot of really good stuff here [with community service]. Unfortunately all you hear about is the small, negative stuff from a couple fraternities here and there,” he added.

That negative image some fraternities portray is felt by not only the administration and police, but also by the students and community.

“[Unchartered fraternities are] not accountable, they don’t have to worry about keeping up their reputation,” Sherer said. “And the downside of that is [freshmen and some administrators] just see them as a Greek organization, and we get lumped in with them. So, it’s kind of guilty by association.”

Reed sees things differently. “Every party we have we have a list of people coming, we check IDs,” Reed said. “We’re trying to change things, and people just don’t see that, and because we are not recognized by the university, we can’t really go out on campus and do the stuff we want to do.”

A part of being considered an active chapter on campus includes financial backing. Capt. Eileen Bradley of Campus Safety Services said recognized Greek associations qualify for benefits through Temple.

“The registered organizations that meet the requirements for community service can go to the general assembly for funding, including community service events,” Bradley said.

Most fraternities not recognized by the university are registered as organizations through the Office of Student Activities. These organizations can receive limited funding through the university; however, being recognized by Temple as a fraternity grants certain privileges including discounts and financial backing.

For some fraternities, the past hinders any chance of becoming affiliated.

“Even though we are a new group of guys that came in and tried to get things started … because of things in the past, they didn’t want Sigma Pi back on campus,” Reed said. “We’ve met with the dean of students, the Greek adviser, we’ve met with everyone and they said that they’re trying to reformulate their Greek system and at the time were not letting any new organizations on.”

“There have been a few police reports this semester, but I didn’t think that would be a problem.” Reed said. “Recently there hasn’t been anything at all, I mean there are police reports at every other fraternity, too, and I don’t know why they are coming down on us and trying to not let us be involved.”

Many Temple-affiliated fraternity members have their own thoughts. Kenny Moore, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated, said “If [a fraternity’s suspension] is for the wrong reasons, their appearance should be limited.” But, Moore continued, “Everyone joined [Greek life] for a reason; they don’t want to hide it.”

Some chartered sorority members seem less interested in their unaffiliated male counterparts. As Jessica Merenich, judicial chairperson of the Panhellenic Executive Board, wrote in an e-mail, “I don’t really care about it that much to do anything.”

Ultimately, the university’s major concerns are about health and safety in those fraternities known for parties.

“We’re just hoping that they make good decisions,” D’Angelo said. “And whether or not, we just kind of want to step in and let them know when they’re making poor decisions, unsafe ones, unhealthy ones, and really, how can we get you the resources to maybe help to shift that.

Freshman Laura Fischetti, who often attends fraternity parties, said that she didn’t know which fraternities were chartered and which ones were not.

“Especially for freshmen,” she said. “We don’t know, we just hear about it and show up.”

Alysha Brennan and Christopher Wink can be reached at TempleNews@GMail.com.

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