Two of GW’s largest fraternities will be unable to host parties this year after incidents with alcohol led the University to put them on social probation. Officials decided earlier this month to strictly sanction Sigma Phi Epsilon after the fraternity held an unregistered keg party and to extend Kappa Sigma’s social probation until May for non-compliance with its probation.
Both fraternities must refrain from holding events with alcohol until they comply with GW’s probation consequences.
Sigma Phi Epsilon held an unregistered party where alcohol was served in September, fraternity leaders said. All organizations distributing alcohol at events must register with the University’s Center for Alcohol and other Drug Education.
Rob Ward, president of Sigma Phi Epsilon, said the fraternity held its party at an off-campus location, not at the chapter’s house on Townhouse Row. Neither University Police nor Metropolitan Police broke up the party, Ward said.
He said he did not know how the University discovered the organization held an unregistered party.
Student Judicial Services sanctioned the fraternity, said Courtney Barry, coordinator for student involvement in Greek Affairs.
SJS officials declined to comment on the specific case but did say that “anyone may file a complaint or report” and that “the involvement of the University or Metropolitan Police departments is not necessary to initiate judicial action.”
“The University evaluates for judicial action any information received regarding student organizations that may have violated GW policy,” Andrew Holland, SJS executive associate, wrote in an e-mail.
Ward said the fraternity must bring two risk management speakers to the campus community by May 2004, and one who will speak specifically to the chapter by Nov. 15, as part of its sanction.
“We did have some date parties and mixers scheduled that we had to cancel,” Ward said.
Kappa Sigma initially went on social probation in February following a party where alcohol was served to a minor who showed a fake ID when carded at the door, said Paul Kennedy, president of Kappa Sigma.
He said SJS extended the probation at the beginning of this year after Kappa Sigma had difficulties fulfilling one of its sanctions from the University – finding a speaker for TIPS training, a national program about responsible alcohol use. The fraternity’s new deadline for TIPS training is Nov. 1. Kennedy said Kappa Sigma will fulfill the requirement but was critical of the University’s sanctions.
“It seems like GW wants to have Greeks around … but doesn’t want to deal with the problems,” Kennedy said.
He said the Greek-letter community suffers when organizations are on probation.
“Not only from our own standpoint, but sororities want to have mixers and we can’t and now (Sigma Phi Epsilon) can’t either,” he said. “And if this continues … where does it stop?”
Barry said Sigma Phi Epsilon and Kappa Sigma were “adjudicated properly” and that SJS handled it “well” and “very fairly.”
“My hope is that by any chapters completing University and/or national sanctions that any chapter will learn from their previous incidents and make better decisions in the future,” she said. “My hope for these two chapters is that they only become stronger and move forward.”
Scott Thompson, communications director for Sigma Phi Epsilon national, said the GW chapter also violated national rules because the party was “open” and had a “community source of alcohol” – at least one keg. Chapters can only have three party guests per member.
Thompson said national officials spoke with the University and local alumni volunteers and that “part of our sanctions for the group included education on our events and the University’s policy on registered functions.” He said the national Sigma Phi Epsilon organization will rely on alumni to work with undergraduate fraternity leaders to educate the GW chapter.
-Julie Gordon contributed to this report.