Last fraternity vacates Alpha Drive
Following an eviction notice from their national organization, members of Sigma Nu are working with ASU staff to find new homes for the remainder of the semester.
Just before spring break, the brothers from Sigma Nu were evicted from their frat house on Alpha Drive. The fraternity is moving into various apartments and ASU has offered to compensate them for the mid-semester inconvenience.
By Julia Shumway | 03/25/12 11:37pm
Shortly before spring break began, about 40 members of an ASU fraternity found themselves homeless when classes resumed.
ASU’s chapter of Sigma Nu, the last fraternity residing on Alpha Drive, received a letter from their national organization ordering them to vacate the premises by Sunday, March 18.
The eviction came as a surprise to Sigma Nu’s members, criminal justice senior and former Sigma Nu pledge marshal Sotero Rivers said.
“Mind you, this is the start of spring break,” Rivers said. “A lot of the guys weren’t even in Tempe then.”
Rivers, who was out of town when the fraternity received the letter, did not find out that Sigma Nu had lost its house until the middle of break.
He said rumors that Sigma Nu would lose its house had circulated since he first joined in spring 2010, and he knew they were likely to lose it someday — just not so soon as he thought and not in the middle of a semester.
For the past several years, ASU officials have harbored concerns about safety and deteriorating structures on Alpha Drive, University spokeswoman Julie Newberg said in an email.
In May 2011, the University sent a letter to the occupants of Alpha Drive explaining ASU could no longer tolerate those conditions and was willing to work with the fraternities to ensure that the houses were no longer used as residences.
During that summer, the other owners signed agreements allowing ASU to lease the properties during the school year, but Sigma Nu was unable to reach an agreement with ASU.
On March 15, ASU officially took possession of the Sigma Nu property, but took no action to evict the students.
The letter members received came from the Fraternity Management Group, a national organization that works with several fraternities and sororities.
ASU staff first learned of the eviction from a Facebook post on March 16, Newberg said.
At 1 p.m. that day, a team made up of representatives from various ASU departments met with the residents who had not yet moved out, Newberg said.
“In an effort to address the immediate situation, and to provide for the safety and welfare of our students, ASU has offered to relocate the students into replacement housing either on campus or a place of their choosing and pay their rent until the end of the semester,” she said.
History senior Nathan Fawcett, the president of Sigma Nu, said he and his brothers were grateful for ASU’s help.
“We’re really appreciative of what ASU has been doing,” he said. “They’ve been great about supporting us through this.”
Fawcett found a new place to live with financial help from ASU.
He said he and his fraternity brothers are planning on spending the rest of the semester focusing on school, but they believe Sigma Nu will have another fraternity house at ASU.
Rivers, who plans to move into a Tempe apartment complex upon returning from break, said he was glad to have ASU’s help including $1,500 for rent as well as $100 for moving expenses.
He said the loss of their fraternity house, as well as others on Alpha Drive, will not improve ASU’s reputation as a party school. It may, in fact, hurt it.
Rivers said fraternity houses on Alpha Drive provided a contained and relatively safe spot for parties, keeping citations such as minors in consumption and driving under the influence citations to a low level, but the loss of those houses caused the parties and the problems to extend to other parts of Tempe.
Fraternities, sororities adapt to changing Greek life climate
Alpha Drive, the former home of ASU fraternities, is one example of the changing face of Greek life.
Photo by Jenn Allen | The State Press
Alpha Drive is vacated, boarded up and under construction. Fraternities like Alpha Epsilon Pi and Sigma Nu are no longer allowed to live in Greek campus housing.
Alpha Drive, once a communal area shared by ASU fraternities, has become akin to an elephant graveyard.
Fences covered by green tarps with “No Trespassing” signs surround the rundown complex. The former home of ASU fraternities is one example of the changing face of Greek life.
Every fraternity but Sigma Nu had moved off campus by summer of 2011.
The school had growing concerns for the safety of the residents of Alpha Drive because of the deteriorated buildings, ASU spokeswoman Julie Newberg said in an email statement after Sigma Nu’s eviction in March.
To ensure apartments on Alpha Drive would no longer house students, ASU sent owners a letter in May 2011 explaining the University’s desire to lease, exchange or purchase each property.
Computer information systems sophomore Adam Train, who was looking forward to moving into the Alpha Epsilon Pi house in fall 2011, said the University’s reasoning made little sense.
“I lived in Manzanita,” Train said. “Even though the fraternity row houses weren’t in the best condition, they were definitely better than some of the places the school wants kids to live.”
He chose to come to ASU instead of Louisiana State University specifically to pledge with Alpha Epsilon Pi, one of the few fraternities that still had a house.
Train said fraternities with houses had previously been considered the best by potential pledges.
“Now that everyone’s lost their house, it’s hard to establish which fraternities are the top,” he said. “I guess it’s because everyone’s kind of in the same situation.”
Alumnus Jesse Rieser, who graduated from ASU in 2003, lived in Sigma Nu’s house on Alpha Drive.
“It’s just strange to think, to me, that a college of that size doesn’t offer that part of college life,” he said.
Rieser said fraternity houses provide structure for students. His house had a housemother who would cook meals. The members would often eat together, and each brother worked to take care of the house, he said.
“It was kind of like a home away from home, which is comforting for people,” Rieser said. “In a sense, you had about a hundred roommates that you knew decently well. You weren’t all friends, but you knew each other well.”
This was what Train expected when he first came to ASU from Texas.
“I never figured fraternities would worry about losing their houses or have constant worries about getting kicked off campus,” Train said. “I never thought those would be big issues, but it’s a fact. You can’t really do anything about it, but I’m still happy I’m in it.”
Alpha Epsilon Pi has been without a fraternity house since summer 2011, but next year plans to move into a section of an apartment complex near other ASU fraternities.
Several fraternities have begun creating their own fraternity “houses” in apartment complexes near the Tempe campus.
The challenges of evolving Greek life have impacted sororities, such as Sigma Kappa, as well.
Sigma Kappa had a chapter with ASU, but closed in 2002 because of declining membership
A chapter of Sigma Kappa recolonized at ASU this semester.
Melinda Mettler, spokeswoman for Sigma Kappa’s national headquarters, said in an email that the new chapter members have been “positively and enthusiastically” involved in the Tempe campus and the community.
“We are so grateful to have been given the opportunity to colonize a new chapter at this great educational institution,” Mettler said. “We are excited to be part of the ASU Greek community and appreciate all the support we have been given throughout our first semester on campus.”
Sororities continue to recover from disciplinary actions
Sororities have faced sanctions from ASU and their own headquarters in the past several years.
Photo by Jessica Pruett | The State Press
For some, sororities offer that unbreakable friendship that is so difficult to find.
Several ASU sororities have faced disciplinary sanctions from the University and their national organizations in the past few years.
To provide a remedy to these disciplinary problems, the approaches taken by ASU and each sorority’s national organization have differed.
Alpha Kappa Alpha
Alpha Kappa Alpha Far Western Regional Director LaVern Tarkington said this was the first time the national organization had to take action on the ASU chapter.
Tarkington said she could not elaborate on the details of the chapter’s transgression.
She said closing of Alpha Kappa Alpha at ASU would deter other chapters from similar behavior so the national organization would not have to deal with a similar situation.
“Alpha Kappa Alpha has very clear, strict policies about how our chapters are to function and the members are to present themselves,” she said. “(When) there is something that occurs that requires us to take action, we follow through.”
Other sororities, including Kappa Delta and Kappa Kappa Gamma, have faced sanctions from ASU but have received support from their national organizations.
ASU suspended Kappa Delta in December 2010 following a hazing complaint one month prior. Seniors in the sorority allegedly hazed new members at a pre-initiation event.
This suspension ended in January 2012 and Kappa Delta headquarters spokeswoman Heidi Roy said the sorority plans to recolonize at ASU in the future.
Kappa Kappa Gamma
In September 2011, three members of the Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter at ASU were hospitalized with alcohol poisoning after drinking at an apartment complex used byTheta Chi as a fraternity house.
Both Kappa Kappa Gamma and Theta Chi were placed on probation until October 2012. As part of this probation, members of both parties are required to take alcohol education and risk management classes through ASU.
Dave Kennedy, president of College Judicial Consultants, a legal consulting firm for students, said universities tend to treat students in sororities or fraternities different than non-Greek students.
He said any other group of friends would not be held responsible if one of their group members drank to the point of developing alcohol poisoning, nor would supervisors of a campus residence hall be disciplined if one of the hall’s residents drank.
“The transported sisters should face whatever response ASU normally does,” Kennedy said. “But without evidence that Kappa Kappa Gamma at least was grossly negligent in allowing that to happen, I don’t think you hold the organization accountable. A lot of schools would, but that doesn’t make it right.”
Vice President of Kappa Kappa Gamma International Beth Black said the ASU chapter has made outstanding progress since its probation began, and the international organization will continue to work closely with them in their improvement.
Despite these sanctions, Kappa Kappa Gamma sister and business junior Shay McGrady said Greek life participation has grown during the past several years.
As a sign of this expansion, hundreds of students donned colorful T-shirts and tank tops displaying large Greek letters as part of Greek Week events, which end Sunday.
Greek Week, an annual tradition on the Tempe campus, brings fraternities and sororities together to bond and perform community service for national organizations, according to event organizers.
McGrady said rushing Kappa Kappa Gamma during her freshman year was the best decision of her college career.
“I would not be who I am today if I did not become involved in the Panhellenic Council or within my sorority,” she said.
Fraternities rebound after campus policy violations
Despite previous violations, some fraternities are re-establishing a good relationship with ASU.
Photo by Shawn Raymundo | The State Press
Teams of fraternities and sororities participated in a chariot race during Greek Week opening ceremonies Monday. Fraternities and sororities are spending this week bonding with other Greek organizations and performing community service.
Some fraternities have recovered from University sanctions with the help of their national organizations, while others faced more serious consequences for violating the ASU code of conduct.
Alpha Epsilon Pi
Computer information systems sophomore Adam Train chose ASU over other universities because its chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi was large and had its own fraternity house.
Both of these aspects were gone before his freshman year ended.
Shortly after Train pledged with Alpha Epsilon Pi in fall 2010, the chapter’s University recognition was revoked because of several alcohol and hazing violations.
When Train was a pledge, he was unaware of these allegations from pledge classes before him.
“I didn’t even really know what was happening,” he said.
At the time he pledged, the chapter was on University probation for hazing — something Train said he never saw any of his brothers do.
He said ASU mistook some of Alpha Epsilon Pi’s actions, like requiring pledges to wear white dress shirts on Wednesdays, as evidence of hazing.
“If the school wants to say that’s hazing, I guess they can,” Train said. “I loved the brothers while I was pledging, but when you are on probation you are put under that microscope and, if you have any little mess-up, you can be penalized for that.”
Train said the national organization continued to support the fraternity despite losing University recognition.
“We still held chapter meetings every week. We still threw brotherhood events,” Train said. “Even if the school doesn’t recognize you, you can’t tell a group of people not to be friends.”
The national organization reorganized Alpha Epsilon Pi after the fraternity lost its University recognition.
In early 2011, the national chapter removed most of the sophomores, juniors and seniors from the chapter, leaving only Train’s pledge class and any subsequent classes.
Alpha Epsilon Pi Executive Director Andrew Borans said the ASU chapter expects a large pledge class in the fall and has been growing strong.
“I’ll speak only to the current and future,” Borans said. “The chapter is doing extremely well now.”
ASU recognized the chapter again in January, although it is still barred from hosting social events with sororities or alcohol.
Train said he is optimistic about the fraternity’s future.
“As much as it kind of stinks to have to go through what we went through, I think we’re dealing with it in the best way possible,” Train said.
Other fraternities have not been so fortunate.
Sigma Pi was placed on disciplinary probation in August 2010 following a party where alcohol was provided to minors.
In February 2011, right after this probation ended, the University received another complaint regarding multiple reports of underage drinking, minor in consumption violations and medical transports for excessive alcohol drinking.
ASU again suspended the chapter in March 2011 following this complaint.
The international organization pulled the ASU Sigma Pi chapter’s charter in June 2011 after repeated risk management violations, failures to register members and financial delinquency.
In a March 2012 press release, then Sigma Pi Executive Director Mark Briscoe said Sigma Pi has high standards for chapter conformity.
“Unfortunately, it became apparent that these standards were not adhered to at (ASU),” Briscoe said. “We were forced with revocation.”
Sigma Chi has also rebounded from disciplinary sanctions.
Sigma Chi violated several different ASU policies between 2003 and 2008, ranging from hazing and drug use to an accusation that two former fraternity members sexually assaulted a fellow student in February 2008.
Since then, Sigma Chi has improved its relationship with ASU and its national organization.
Sigma Chi Executive Director Mike Dunn said the national organization has worked with the ASU fraternity chapter extensively and it has moved away from its past issues.
“We’re very proud of the work they do,” Dunn said. “The things they’ve done in terms of fundraising are incredible. We continue to challenge them to do even better.”
Members of Sigma Chi and other ASU fraternities are trying to improve campus Greek life.
Sigma Chi brother Jacob Goulding, a political science senior and the Tempe Undergraduate Student Government president, said in an email that fraternities have done a lot this year but still have a long way to go.
“I think we need to establish an honest vision for where Greek life stands at ASU and how to go about implementing that vision,” Goulding said.