Future of Sig Ep uncertain after national suspension


The Sig Ep house is pictured on the left. The fraternity’s future became uncertain after National Sigma Phi Epsilon suspended NU’s chapter earlier this summer. (Julianna Nunez/The Daily Northwestern)

Paulina Firozi, Campus Editor

Northwestern’s chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon will not host social events or participate in rush pending a membership review, an official from the fraternity’s national organization said Monday.

The review comes as a condition of Sig Ep’s suspension. The fraternity’s board of directors is taking action against NU’s members after noting a “pattern of risky behavior exhibited by the chapter over the last year,” the national fraternity’s executive director Brian Warren Jr. wrote in a statement to The Daily on Aug. 3.

Alumni advisers will begin as soon as possible to interview all undergraduate members of Sig Ep to determine which brothers to reinstate and which to release from the fraternity, Warren said Monday.

Chapter members have been asked to immediately discontinue all chapter operations and participation in any social or recruitment events. Because some chapter members may not be readmitted into the fraternity, it has yet to be decided whether brothers will be able to live in the on-campus Sig Ep house come September, Warren said.

“What we don’t want to see happen is that we have individuals who are asked to return and individuals who are not asked to return, living in the same environment and to further any tension that exists as a result of that,” he said. “We want to be able to empower the guys who are asked to return who want to be doing something different.”

The future of the chapter remains uncertain. Alumni Advisory Council status — meaning undergraduates will continue to be members of the chapter only under the authority of alumni volunteers — can last anywhere from six months to two years.

Interviewing brothers is just the first step in determining whether or not to reinstate suspended members, Warren said.

The Alumni Advisory Council will also work with the University to assess chapter members’ academic performance and behavior at NU, Warren said.

University officials were not available for comment.

Warren said he hopes a continued relationship between the members and alumni will ensure the chapter develops in a positive direction. Chapter members may remain under the guidance of alumni even after the membership review is complete.

“We want to have some structured questions that are asked of them to make sure that they are in this fraternity for the right reasons,” Warren said. “The desire is that there is going to be increased interaction with alumni. We believe that’s going to be a good thing on many levels for the undergraduates who are asked to remain in chapter and to be leaders in the chapter moving forward.”

NU’s Illinois Lambda chapter of Sig Ep was installed in 1989 and states its mission as “Building Balanced Leaders for the World’s Communities,” according to NU’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.

The suspension of Sig Ep follows other changes within NU’s Greek community: Delta Tau Delta renewed its chapter in the fall after being shut down in 2007, and Chi Psi was closed by its national headquarters last winter.

Patrick Schnettler, McCormick senior and president of NU’s Interfraternity Council, released a statement on Aug. 7 that said the organization was “saddened” by Sig Ep’s suspension but looks forward to working with the national fraternity, NU community and chapter members to “support them and their positive growth in any way possible.”

NU’s Sig Ep president and McCormick junior Ben Schneider did not respond to several requests for comment.

Warren said academic success is a priority for students at a university such as Northwestern and hopes that, as a fraternity, Sig Ep can “complement the academic experience.”

He said he also hopes that by starting the membership review immediately, the process will not interfere with students’ school work.

“It’s a shame that we have to spend our time doing this, and that our time can’t be spent on preparing young men to be higher performers in the classroom, and preparing them to be more successful after graduation,” he said. “We look forward to working with the guys who want a different fraternity experience and want to be more than just a social outlet that I think it has become.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated a word in one of Warren’s quotes. Warren said he hopes that Sig Ep can “complement the academic experience.” The Daily regrets the error.