Communication between the University and the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity has broken down after GW’s assistant general counsel canceled a scheduled meeting with the fraternity’s local alumni last week, fraternity officials said.
An official at the office of the general counsel said employees of the office will not comment to the media about pending legal matters.
Ed Crump, an alumni of GW’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter, said he and Bill Clinton, a member of the fraternity’s alumni control board, were scheduled to meet with GW Assistant General Counsel Linda J. Schutjer last week. Crump said Schutjer canceled the meeting. Wednesday afternoon, the meeting had not been rescheduled and he had received no explanation for the cancellation, he said.
“We feel very, very frustrated,” Crump said.
Schutjer sent a letter to the fraternity’s national office in August, warning the fraternity to curb its behavior or face a lawsuit from the University.
Crump, who was asked to represent the fraternity, said the letter was sent without warning. He said the University has not contacted local alumni or Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s national officials when problems allegedly have come up in recent years.
He said he is concerned about the violations with which the University has accused the fraternity, including sexual assault, physical abuse and physical altercations. Crump said no one from the University contacted him or other Sigma Alpha Epsilon officials about the violations.
“If we have rapists in our fraternity, we want to know about it so we can get rid of them,” he said.
Karen Warren, manager of Student Judicial Affairs, said the University contacted the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity after it noticed the fraternity’s rush fliers in Thurston Hall this semester.
Warren said the fliers indicated the fraternity’s rush events potentially violated the University’s alcohol policy because they advertised a series of events that would encourage underage drinking. One event was called “Hangover Bowl” and another was called “Last Man Standing.”
“Although the University may assume these events violate the alcohol policy, they don’t,” said Tim Beresford, president of GW’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. “The `Hangover Bowl’ is a middle-of-the-day football game and `Last Man Standing’ was a trip to a pool hall.”
Beresford said alumni advisers check the fraternity’s rush schedule.
He said no members of the national organization or local alumni have contacted the chapter about the University’s concerns about its rush policies.
Frank Ginocchio, assistant executive director of Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s field office, said he received no letter about the rush fliers.
Ginocchio said he attempted to meet with University officials and the University’s general counsel’s office when he visited the GW chapter last week from Florida.
Ginocchio said he has had no contact with the University since the letter from the general counsel’s office this summer.
“I’ve never met with the University officials, period,” Ginocchio said.
Other members of GW’s administration said they have not met with Sigma Alpha Epsilon brothers or alumni.
Mike Gargano, assistant vice president for Student and Academic Support Services, said he met with current brothers in Sigma Alpha Epsilon on a regular basis until a year and a half ago. He said alumni or officials from the national organization have not contacted him to meet recently.
“My door is always open to them,” Gargano said.
Crump said the University has violated the rights of Sigma Alpha Epsilon on numerous occasions. He said the University wanted members of the fraternity to sign a release that would authorize University Police officers to enter the house at any time and without probable cause. Crump said the request directly violated the members’ civil and jurisdictional property rights.
Crump said comments made by University officials in recent media reports were an “organized attack against Sigma Alpha Epsilon.”
“We would consider (Crump’s) statement to be inaccurate,” Warren said.