One of Cal State Fullerton’s prominent fraternities has been officially stripped of its accreditation after months of investigation conducted by the university in partnership with a national representative of the fraternity.
Sigma Phi Epsilon, one of the seven fraternities on campus, was removed as a chapter from the inter-fraternity council Dec. 5, following allegations of underage drinking at an off-campus unsanctioned event as well as allegations of hazing, according to Maricela Alvarado, the Greek Life Coordinator.
Alvarado received a police report in September from the Fullerton Police Department indicating that an incident had occurred involving underaged drinking, which required the hospitalization of a young female.
“We take our reports very seriously,” Alvarado said.
Upon receiving the report, Alvarado and the chapter’s national governing council took it upon themselves to further investigate the allegations.
“Their national headquarters decided to send a representative to investigate and determine the status of the fraternity, and whether or not they will be pulling their charter,” Alvarado said.
According to Alvarado, the former fraternity chapter had been on suspension previously, last spring, due to violation of policies both under university and Sigma Phi Epsilon nationals’ policies.
As a recognized social fraternity on campus not only are these young participants to abide by university policies but they are also governed by national guidelines such as maintaining a 2.5 minimum GPA, philanthropy, no consumption of alcohol during recruitment, no hazing, etc.
“They are expected to obey and meet these criteria,” said Alvarado. “Defying these policies could range in referral to a warning all the way to expulsion.”
Dean of Students Lea Jarnagin, Ed.D., added that the students who participate in these social fraternities and sororities must abide not only by Cal State Fullerton’s student conduct policy, but also by Title 5 in the Code of Regulations of the California Dept. of Education.
When an allegation of some sort is brought before the Dean of Students office, a thorough investigation is issued as students have the right to a fair judicial process.
Jarnagin said her office looks into any kind of allegation or concern and investigates possible violations of school or educational codes. If a violation is found, the office investigates who is responsible.
“In other words, we have to take a student individually or a student organization, a fraternity or sorority through a process that allows for the most comprehensive and as objective as possible review of the case as presented and then make a determination if policy has been violated,” said Jarnagin.
“It’s a long process because you want to ensure the rights of students. You don’t want to go on something that doesn’t have some validity to it.”
As for allegations and concerns of hazing under university policy, these allegations were not taken lightly. The university has a zero-tolerance policy for hazing in any form, or conspiracy to haze.
“We don’t want students subject to harm. A concern or report made to us about hazing—we absolutely will investigate it,” Jarnagin said.
In a statement from the fraternity’s headquarters regarding Sigma Phi Epsilon’s California Omega chapter at Cal State Fullerton, the decision was made in partnership with university administrators.
“Despite volunteer, staff, and university support, the chapter was unable to implement the necessary changes to provide a safe and positive experience for its members. Sigma Phi Epsilon’s mission is to build balanced men, and its leadership programs and educational efforts are based on the value of respect for self and others,” the statement said.
“Behavior that is not consistent with the Fraternity’s mission and values is not tolerated. When the cultural issues within a chapter that conflict with our mission and values are too deeply rooted to effect change, we have no other option but to withdraw the chapter’s charter,” the statement continued.
As a result, according to Alvarado, by pulling their charter, students of the organized social fraternity are no longer able to promote their fraternity by displaying their letters, nor are they allowed to host events on or off campus.
“As for the fraternity house, the house is owned by a housing corporation and they will decide the future of the residence,” Alvarado said.
Student reaction amongst the Greek Community has maintained a respectful ambiance in this time for their fellow students.
President of the Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) Rory Gallagher, 19, a business administration major and a member of Phi Kappa Tau, said the loss of a fraternity is a hit to all IFC men and members of the Greek network.
“It’s extremely tough for all Greeks to lose a chapter as involved, passionate, and crucial to the Greek community as Sigma Phi Epsilon has been at Cal State Fullerton. Regardless of the situation, we as IFC urge all students to pass on respect to the gentlemen of Sigma Phi Epsilon for their extraordinary contributions to the university,” Gallagher said.
Fellow Greek Community member, Cody Leong, 21, a communications major and a member of Phi Kappa Tau, said it is unfortunate to lose a good chapter on campus.
As for the future of the now expelled charter, according to the Sigma Phi Epsilon National Fraternity Headquarters, “Sigma Phi Epsilon looks forward to re-establishing a chapter at Cal State Fullerton that aligns with the values and expectations of both the fraternity and university.”