This week, Wake Forest University suspended its recognition of the Zeta Chapter of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity for three years due to violating numerous group responsibility principles.
The suspension followed a hearing last week before the dean of student services and a group advisory panel consisting of faculty, student and staff members. The fraternity may appeal the university’s decision to the student life committee, also composed of faculty, student and staff members.
The violations are related to an off-campus party held April 20 by the fraternity at Forsyth County’s Tanglewood Park. The event was staged without university authorization or supervision.
After the party, 23 members of Sigma Phi Epsilon were cited by the Forsyth County Animal Control Department with the misdemeanor offense of abandoning an animal (a pig) brought to the party. Of the 23 members, 21 were also cited for allowing livestock to run at large, a misdemeanor. If individual students are found by local courts to be responsible for violations of the law, they will be appropriately disciplined by the university, as well.
In light of the coming court proceedings in Forsyth County, the university chose not to characterize the events involving the possession and control of the animal. The university did state, though, that the pig was not mutilated or intentionally injured.
During the suspension, the fraternity will not function as an organization at Wake Forest and will forfeit the residence hall lounge on campus that it occupies for fraternity activities. Members residing around the lounge may be reassigned to other campus residence halls.
Fraternity members—now officially considered as a “probationary group” by Wake Forest—may meet exclusively for the purposes of rehabilitation, community service and education according to conditions established and supervised by the Office of the Dean of Student Services.
During the suspension, any violation of Wake Forest group responsibility principles or significant individual offenses will result in permanent loss of university recognition of the charter of the Zeta Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity.
There is a provision for the fraternity to apply in spring 2004 for reactivation of the fraternity for the 2004-2005 academic year, if the fraternity satisfactorily meets conditions required by the university. The group would also have to meet any conditions established by the national office of the fraternity. At this point, the national office has suspended the charter of the chapter at Wake Forest, pending its own investigation.
The university will establish an educational program for the fraternity that will address a wide range of subjects, including organizational ethics, alcohol abuse and the ethical treatment of animals. The program will be designed by the Office of the Dean of Student Services, the Office of Student Development and the Office of the Vice President for Student Life and Instructional Resources.
Members must complete a program of education and community service specifically related to the care, ethical treatment and protection of animals.
During the suspension, the fraternity must establish a board of receivers consisting of faculty, Student Life staff, a national Sigma Phi Epsilon representative, and alumni to guide members in rehabilitation, satisfying the objectives of the probationary plan, completing community service requirements and group education.
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