Members of the Theta Delta chapter of the Sigma Chi fraternity were ordered to vacate their home and revitalize their chapter. Members were expected to be out of the house by Dec. 14.
Vice President of Student Affairs Dee Dee Anderson, Ph.D., said the move was successful, and the members of Sigma Chi behaved well during the process.
“I think the students that were involved are incredibly disappointed, and we recognize that,” Anderson said. “It is a difficult situation for them to deal with.”
Sigma Chi International ordered the closure, and Southern Miss supported the decision, Chief Communication Officer Jim Coll said in an email interview with Student Printz reporter Lanie Leach. Coll also said the decision was not made based on one member’s actions but a need for comprehensive reform.
Coll said the plan approved by Southern Miss, Sigma Chi International and Sigma Chi’s local alumni group was a 12-month social event moratorium and an 18-month moratorium on alcohol. There will also be education related to strategic planning, alcohol/drug use and abuse, membership recruitment, and personal responsibility and accountability.
Anderson said Sigma Chi had not been following their new member education program, which involves brotherhood values and conduct.
Anderson said the new member education program is used to teach members about issues of hazing, alcohol and drug use.
“We started seeing indicators in the fall that brought to our attention those areas I mentioned,” Anderson said. “We were reacting to what we were observing and hearing, but it is also a preventative measure.”
“Theta Delta is proud of who we are and what we’ve accomplished, and that even while in an environment where it would have been much easier to conform to what many consider a failing system’s changes, Theta Delta stood by the traditions and values that have been passed through each pledge class for years,” an anonymous Sigma Chi member told Leach.
From the beginning of the 2017 spring semester to the end of the 2018 fall semester, Sigma Chi has had 20 reports with 24 charges in addition to violations of university policy on visitation, alcohol and conduct.
Of the 20 reports, there were seven reports involving alcohol on campus with three of those seven involving minors. Nine reports were drug-related. Of the nine, six involved possession of substances believed to be marijuana. The other three reports involved drug paraphernalia.
Officer Adam Kelly wrote in an April 2018 report he was dispatched to Sigma Chi’s house and found a substance that looked and smelled like marijuana.
At the end of his report, he wrote, “There have been multiple reports involving drugs at and around Sigma Chi house.”
An anonymous student of a separate fraternity neighboring Sigma Chi said that he knew they would lose their house as soon as International came to evaluate the fraternity.
“I don’t know everything they’ve been charged with, but I did hear their nationals were in town,” the student said. “Any time nationals for any fraternity is brought down for these disciplinary types of things I do know that loss of a house is pretty common.”
Though the anonymous student said he had not seen hazing from Sigma Chi members and is friendly with many of them, he admitted there were rumors of hazing.
“I think [the rumors of hazing] are more myth than actual stories,” the student said. “[Fraternities] have cut back significantly to the point where people have stopped doing pledge attire just because of the fear of getting shut down is growing amongst chapters.”
On a Sept. 16, 2018 report, UPD Officer Robert Smith did a routine security check of Sigma Chi house. Smith wrote that there was a sign on the door that read, “Ritual in progress, contact [redacted] or [redacted].” Upon opening the door, there was a black sheet covering the entrance.
“The front room had been ransacked, and there was broken glass, beer cans, clothes on the floor, vomit, trash cans had been emptied out and there was blood on the floor,” Smith reported. “There was also blood and tissue with blood inside of the men’s bathroom on the west side of the house.”
Smith wrote Lieutenant Shannon Yates arrived and told the members to clean the house before custodians entered.
There was a similar incident Aug. 18. Lieutenant Jared Pierce found broken glass on the floor while patrolling Sigma Chi house. The glass came from a pane of glass above the doorway to the foyer. Pierce noticed broken glass and beer bottles in the trash can. He also noted shards of glass hanging from the ceiling where the pane had been.
Southern Miss does not have a fraternity scheduled to move into Sigma Chi’s house currently. Anderson said Pi Kappa Alpha is moving into Sigma Nu’s house and they are working on a solution for Sigma Nu.
“We haven’t finalized any of those pieces yet,” Anderson said. “We are actually in the system doing our lease agreement with fraternities so we are putting that piece together and then we will be discussing with some groups whether or not that is an option for them.”