Temple University administrators recently suspended Sigma Phi Epsilon through the fall semester of 2005, according to Captain Robert M. Lowell of Temple’s Investigations Unit. Some of the fraternity’s members were involved in an alleged hazing incident late last semester.
Under the conditions of the suspension, the university will not recognize the chapter. Sigma Phi Epsilon cannot recruit members, receive student organization funding or operate as a fraternity.
Consequently, they will not be able to organize campus events, such as presentations, unless the sanctions are lifted or modified.
Raymond DeStephanis, the fraternity’s adviser, and chapter president Ryan D. Weaver said the fraternity was initially found in violation of three sections of the Student Code of Conduct: section 16, which involves hazing; section 58, defined as a “violation of any duly promulgated University policy, rule or regulation;” and section 59, a “violation of any duly promulgated Greek Letter Policy.”
According to DeStephanis, the organization appealed the charges, which were sent directly to an appeals panel due to the seriousness of the sanctions. The review panel found the fraternity not responsible for acts of hazing, but enforced sections 58 and 59, according to DeStephanis and Weaver.
“The misconception was that it was an initiation,” said Weaver, a junior. “Basically our initiation is a solemn ceremony where we reaffirm the values of our organization which are virtue, diligence and brotherly love.” Weaver said outsiders and alcohol could not be involved with the initiation process, which must also be attended by 100 percent of its members.
The incident, which happened on Dec. 5, 2004, was described in a campus police report as “hazing, indecent assault, and the posting of photographs on a Web site depicting members engaged in racial writings, anti-Semitic writings and indecent assault inside the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity,” located at 2012 N. Broad St.
Approximately 30 photographs of the incident were posted on the Internet by one of the fraternity’s members, depicting a naked victim, apparently unconscious due to intoxication.
According to Lowell, police identified members of the fraternity in the photographs, and The Temple News originally reported that at least two brothers involved were suspended for a year.
DeStephanis revealed six members of the fraternity were suspended and also said five out of the six members are currently appealing the ruling. He believes the verdict was made last Friday, but did not know the outcome of the decisions.
According to Assistant Director of Judicial Affairs Andrea Caporale Seiss, members not individually charged, though affiliated with a fraternity, would not have records filed with the University Disciplinary Committee because “individuals and organizations are totally separate and looked at as individual entities when deciding cases on behavior.”
Weaver said the chapter “is working very closely with all parties affiliated,” including Sigma Phi Epsilon’s national headquarters and the university, to “ensure this never happens again.”
“We would like to take more of an educational route with our sanctions, DeStephanis said. “We basically have a spotless record; we feel this is a university that promotes education and we don’t feel these sanctions are doing that. We would like to be proactive with the campus and bring in educational speakers on topics [such as hazing] and not only educate our chapter but the rest of the Greeks and other groups on campus.”
Weaver and DeStephanis also hope the sanctions will be modified, but that’s not the way the rules work. Caporale Seiss said if a decision is made by a review board and confirmed by Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Theresa A. Powell, her judgment is final and “there can be no internal appeal” following her decision.
Brandon Lausch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.