MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The national headquarters of Sigma Phi Epsilon has revoked West Virginia University’s chapter of the fraternity after determining the chapter violated multiple fraternity and university alcohol and risk management policies, according to a release.
A press release from the Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp) National Headquarters stated that following an investigation, the Fraternity’s National Board of Directors made the decision to disband the chapter with the support of the West Virginia Beta Alumni and Volunteer Corporation (AVC) and in partnership with the university.
The release stated that in the last 18 months, the West Virginia Beta Chapter has violated the law, as well as fraternity and university policies, bringing the safety of both members and guests into question. The release also said that since January 2018, these violations led the fraternity to cease operations multiple times to ensure safety; investigate the concerns; take action; and provide support to facilitate cultural change in the chapter.
The release then listed multiple incidents between the 2017-2018 academic year and the 2018-2019 academic year where it said WVU’s SigEp Beta Chapter violated the law and/or university/fraternity policies. A list of these incidents can be found on the full release here.
The release went on to state that because of concern for the safety and well-being of members and guests; the patterns of violations outlined in the release; and the chapter’s unwillingness to implement cultural change, SigEp’s National Board of Directors unanimously determined to withdraw the West Virginia Beta Chapter.
“SigEp’s purpose is to develop balanced men who make a difference in their communities, and we expect chapters and their members to act in accordance with our values,” said SigEp CEO Brian Warren. “In this case, members have repeatedly violated the law and the Fraternity’s and University’s policies on risk management and substance abuse. When the cultural issues within a chapter conflict with our values and are too deeply rooted to change, SigEp will act responsibly to ensure the safety of students and other members of the campus community.”
The release then stated that SigEp Headquarters provided significant support to the West Virginia Beta Chapter, including visiting the chapter more than 18 times and spending more than 48 days in Morgantown to support the chapter in developing positive culture, recruiting quality men and implementing the Balanced Man Program over a three-year period.
The release also stated that the volunteers of the West Virginia Beta AVC also invested significant time to support the chapter’s development and changes to its culture. Each time violations occurred, the Headquarters staff and AVC – in partnership with the University – worked with the chapter to shift its culture, according to the release.
“The current West Virginia Beta undergraduates have squandered this assistance and their opportunities,” said Warren. “They have shown that they care more about being a Morgantown drinking club than they do about SigEp’s mission and developing balanced men. That is simply not the experience we seek to provide.”
West Virginia University also released a statement on the closing of the chapter. The statement said that in the wake of the decision of SigEp’s National Board of Directors to pull the charter of the fraternity’s West Virginia Beta Chapter, the university has also revoked the chapter’s status as a recognized student organization.
According to the university’s statement, the national office is permitting students who live in the house to remain there through the fall semester, but they will have to find other housing after the conclusion of the semester. The university will assist anyone who needs help finding housing, according to the statement.
The statement then said that failure of the chapter to comply with the direction of headquarters, alumni leaders and/or staff of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life may result in further disciplinary proceedings.
The statement went on to say that WVU joins the SigEp national office in wishing the decision had not been necessary, but the chapter’s continued violations of fraternity and university policies and procedures left them with no choice. The statement then said that student safety is of paramount importance.
WVU’s statement also said SigEp has stated it hopes to re-establish a chapter in the future, and when or if that happens, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life will assist in any way possible.
The West Virginia Beta Chapter also released a statement via its Twitter account. The statement said SigEp’s National Headquarters implemented a substance-free facility bylaw with the ultimate goal of lowering insurance costs and membership dues. However, the chapter claims this did not end up being the case, and that instead, the insurance bills and membership dues “sky-rocketed.” The statement then claims that the newly-implemented bylaw made it nearly impossible to be a sustainable social fraternity as the members could not have any social activities at their own house.
The statement then describes a situation that occurred on October 3, 2019, where members of the chapter were notified about the welfare of two guests. According to the statement, the guests showed signs of being intoxicated to the point of worry, and members of the fraternity alerted EMS immediately.
The statement then said that since being enrolled at WVU, members of the fraternity have been strongly encouraged to alert EMS in concerning situations, and that the fraternity members did morally what was best for the situation.
The entirety of the West Virginia Beta Chapter’s statement can be found here.