Hazing issues have led to the temporary suspension of another fraternity at the College of William and Mary. The Alpha Eta chapter of Sigma Pi faces interim suspension regarding alleged Student Conduct Code violations.
The disciplinary action follows the recent suspension of the College’s chapter of Phi Kappa Tau, also on hazing charges.
The Office of the Dean of Students received information about an alleged serious hazing incident during Sigma Pi pledging. According to Associate Dean of Students David Gilbert, this is Sigma Pi’s first violation at the College recently.
“The allegation is that fraternity members engaged in an activity where newly recruited members were forced to drink alcohol,” Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler ’88 Ph.D. ’06 said in an email. “Due to the serious nature of the charge, we issued an interim suspension of activities pending the outcome of the investigation.”
According to Inter-Fraternity Council President Ishan Bardhan ’13, the chapter cannot hold functions unless they are approved by administrators.
“Minus meetings approved by the Greek Advisors or Dean Gilbert, the chapter is not allowed to have any functions or activities until the resolution of the situation,” Bardhan said in an email.
After the Dean of Students office investigates the allegations, the fraternity can either resolve the matter with administrators or request a hearing with the Student Conduct Council.
“Consequences for hazing range from warning to loss of college recognition,” Gilbert said in an email.
While the College determines sanctions for its fraternity chapters, Sigma Pi’s national organization will conduct a separate investigation into the allegations.
However, the College’s Sigma Pi chapter is not currently on probation with the national organization.
According to the Student Handbook, the College defines hazing as “any action taken or situation created, intentionally, whether on or off campus, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule.”
Gilbert credits the recent increase in reports of hazing to the creation of the College’s Hazing Prevention Coalition, co-chaired by Director of Recreational Sports Linda Knight and Associate Director of Greek Life Anne Arseneau.
“The advent of online reporting has provided a new avenue for students and others to make us aware of concerns,” Gilbert said in an email. “The community’s understanding of what constitutes hazing and what students can do about it has improved considerably in the time since the College’s formation of the Hazing Prevention Coalition, and I appreciate the engaged response we have received.”
Bardhan said that the recent incidents have prompted reflection among campus fraternities.
Within the past year, three fraternities have faced disciplinary action at the College — Phi Kappa Tau and Sigma Pi for hazing and Sigma Pi for various other violations.
“We, as [the Inter-Fraternity] Council, need to put in a good deal of thought into evaluating where we stand as a Greek community. … As we reflect on what’s happened in recent months concerning Kappa Sigma, Phi Kappa Tau and Sigma Pi, we need to evaluate our position in the William and Mary community and consider how we can better conduct ourselves moving forward,” Bardhan said in an email.
Until the charges of hazing are confirmed, Sigma Pi will remain on interim suspension.
Exceptions to the suspension will be determined by Dean of Students Patricia Volp.
Members of Sigma Pi declined to comment on the allegations.
The chapter was founded on June 6, 1931, at the College of William and Mary. The group’s charter was revoked in 1981, but after a one-year petition and probation period, Sigma Pi was officially recognized as a fraternity at the College on Feb. 2, 1993.
Editor’s Note: This article was changed at 12:31 a.m. February 29 for clarity.