University of Nebraska-Lincoln vice chancellor for student affairs Juan N. Franco announced sanctions imposed on Sigma Chi fraternity after an investigation into an off-campus gathering indicated the UNL chapter violated the terms of its probation. The chapter had been suspended for four years beginning May 1, 2009, following charges of hazing and procuring alcohol for minors.
Franco said the new sanctions include a suspension of indefinite length beginning Oct. 20, and a revocation of the privilege of Sigma Chi's status as a UNL-approved housing unit. During the suspension, no one will be in residence at the Sigma Chi house, and no formal activities are to be held there.
The chapter had recently met university criteria to re-open the house at 1510 Vine St. However, UNL Police received a report of a possible sexual assault that occurred at the chapter house on Aug. 31. After a thorough investigation of the incident and after consultation with the Lancaster County attorney's office, criminal charges will not be filed. But during the course of the investigation, police discovered that the reported sexual assault was preceded by a large party had happened off campus, with alcohol provided by members of Sigma Chi to minors. This was in violation of the administrative disposition agreement between Sigma Chi's alumni board and UNL following the sanctions imposed in 2009.
"This 're-suspension' is disappointing, but is the right action," Franco said. "This university administration and community of scholars will not tolerate behavior that goes against the conduct that is expected and required of our students. This university supports student learning, leadership and engagement, and we have no interest in supporting groups that have activities that can potentially harm other students.
"Our students require a supportive, safe environment. We will not accept behavior that is any less."
Franco said UNL administrators would meet with the chapter's alumni board to discuss the long-term future of the house. "We will continue to work with Sigma Chi to determine the future of the fraternity on our campus," Franco said. "It is in everyone's best interest to work to a positive outcome."
J. Steve Davis, a spokesperson for the Alpha Epsilon alumni advisory council for Sigma Chi, issued the following statement:
"We regret to have learned within the last 24 hours that three undergraduate members of our fraternity have been cited by UNL Police for procurement of alcohol for under age students. This a clear violation of the University Code of Conduct as well as the Sigma Chi Code of Conduct. As a result, we have agreed with the sanctions imposed by the university and offered them our full support.
"We are both surprised and devastated by the citation given the zero tolerance terms we agreed to --and consistently communicated to our undergraduates -- under the terms of our prior probation. The fact is that 130 years of Sigma Chi presence, and the overwhelming good that has come from it, now ends as a result of these new prohibitive sanctions from the university. These sanctions are, in effect, a death sentence for our fraternity.
"Speaking on behalf of the thousands of University of Nebraska Sigma Chis who have been a credit to the university and the fraternity, we are at once greatly disappointed by the alleged behavior of a handful of our undergraduates, yet determined to fully support the university and to insure that the good standards of the University of Nebraska and the welfare of its students comes before all else."