Sigma Chi seeks to prove itself after losing GW recognition

The members of GW’s chapter of Sigma Chi will spend the year attempting to redeem themselves to their international headquarters after losing University recognition last month.

Sigma Chi lost GW recognition this summer after hosting a party during the first session of Colonial Inauguration, a violation of the GW and Interfraternity Council rules.

The GW chapter will maintain its national charter under its headquarters’ “show cause” policy, said Grand Prator Harvey Silverman, the international chapter’s eastern regional governor. To avoid losing its charter and support from its international headquarters, Sigma Chi must prove it is worthy of retaining its charter, he said.

“If we were to yank their charter without assisting them we would not be fulfilling the values of Sigma Chi or of brotherhood,” Silverman said.

The members must perform community service under alumni supervision, he said.

Sigma Chi members already have planned an alcohol abuse seminar to be opened to the GW community – the first step on the journey toward redemption, Silverman said.

According to the fraternity’s “show-cause” policy, the chapter cannot hold any social activities or choose a pledge class. The fraternity members can continue to live in the house, which is owned by a charitable foundation.

Fraternities are not permitted to host parties or events that might attract freshmen before rush, said Tracie Anzaldi, coordinator of Greek affairs and spirit events. Sigma Chi members also failed to register the party, another violation of GW policy, she said.

Patrick Macmanus, the president of Sigma Chi at the time of the violation, resigned shortly after the incident.

“I can’t comment other than to say I had other obligations I had to take care of and it was in the best interest of the house,” Macmanus said.

Macmanus declined to comment on whether his resignation was before or after the party.

Sigma Chi acting President Jason Patnosh was unavailable for comment.

The decision to revoke Sigma Chi’s GW recognition was made after a board of Greek-letter community members recommended a one-year suspension at a hearing July 1, Anzaldi said.

“A fraternity is never handed a one-year suspension for having one unregistered party during CI,” said Karen Warren, manager of Student Judicial Services. “The University’s action is based on judicial history, not just one incident.”

Last year, the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity lost GW recognition and its charter after a GW student was hospitalized when he consumed excessive amounts of alcohol at a pledge-related event. The Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity will be recognized by the University again this fall after a one-year suspension it incurred for holding a party during CI in 1997. In light of these suspensions, Anzaldi and other administrators are speculating about the future of Greek-letter life at GW.

“The Greek-letter community may be shrinking in size, but they’re improving by holding each other to the higher standards Greek-letter members claim to maintain,” Anzaldi said.

“I think anytime a chapter is disciplined, it has a ripple effect throughout the Greek-letter community as far as holding each other accountable goes,” Warren said.

When Pi Kappa Alpha lost its charter, Robert Chernak, vice president of student and academic support services, said fraternities and sororities must follow higher standards. He said the Greek-letter community had one more chance to prove themselves.

However, after Sigma Chi’s suspension, Chernak said he hopes the University can help strengthen the Greek-letter community.

“We’re not on a witch hunt to do away with fraternities and sororities at GW,” he said.

Sigma Chi leaders also speculated about the future of the chapter at GW.

“They had just a few bad members who made the others look bad,” Silverman said. “We saved the best members and got rid of the rest.”

Silverman would not mention the specific members who were asked to leave. However, he said many of the “bad members” had graduated already, alleviating the need to force members to leave the chapter.

Click here to read a profile of IFC President Neil Smith.

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