Following a formal hearing earlier this month that found the UCF fraternity Sigma Chi in violation of university policies, including hazing and disruptive conduct, the organization will face probation and restrictions on its activities, according to an Office of Student Conduct document.
In June, an anonymous caller said that during the spring 2015 semester, there had been a hazing incident involving a Sigma Chi pledge. According to documents from the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, more than a few members were present during the alleged hazing incident. The organization had failed to inform the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life or the Office of Student Conduct of the hazing incident, as previously reported by the Future.
In a formal letter to the members of Sigma Chi describing the sanctions, Director of the Office of Student Conduct Michael Gilmer introduced seven sanctions on the fraternity due to the violations, including placing the organization on restrictive probation for the rest of the fall semester and spring and summer 2016. While on probation, the fraternity is not allowed to recruit new members, and if members commit any other violations of the Organizational Rules of Conduct, the fraternity faces a possibility of suspension, the document states.
Gilmer also added that although Sigma Chi was found responsible for hazing and disruptive conduct, he decided to remove the two-year organizational probation recommendation made by a hearing officer earlier this month and instead enforce other forms of restriction. Sigma Chi will only be on this type of probation for fall 2016 and the spring and summer 2017 semesters, the document states, during which the fraternity is still subject to suspension following any other violations but may participate in regular university and fraternity events.
"These modifications are purposefully designed to provide an opportunity for education to the organization and each of its members on group responsibility and to better understand the impact that hazing and non-compliance related behaviors have on the university community," Gilmer said in the letter.
In a document explaining the Oct. 7 administrative hearing, David Oglethorpe, hearing officer and communications coordinator for the Office of Student Involvement, recommended that Sigma Chi be found in violation of charges of hazing and disruptive conduct, adding that "several pledges were initiated into the organization, although they were ineligible due to grades and/or enrollment status." He recommended, however, that the organization is not in violation of an alcohol-related misconduct charge, reasoning that there was not enough evidence to warrant that.
While on probation, Sigma Chi members must develop a special outreach presentation that will be presented to all 48 Greek organizations. Members must present the Feb. 18 case — the incident that allegedly involved hazing, disruptive conduct and alcohol-related misconduct — and ask other members of Greek organizations to advise how this type of incident could have been prevented.
In a three- to five-year strategy plan, the Sigma Chi fraternity must also work with its national headquarters, OFSL and the Office of Student Conduct to create a leadership development, transition and rehabilitation plan for the organization. The plan and presentation are both due by May 16, 2016, as is forming a group of members designated to meet with the Golden Rule Committee to "evaluate and review university policy."
Each active member must also meet one-on-one with an OFSL staff member to review the Feb. 18 case. If all members have met with a staff member by Thursday, the sanction will have been completed. All members must also complete the hazing-prevention online course, "It's Everyone's Responsibility," by May 12, 2016.
Members may only appeal these decisions if they suspect "irregularities in fairness," if new information that "could have affected the outcome of the hearing" is discovered, or if members feel the sanctions are too extreme in proportion to the fraternity's violations.
Danielle Hendrix and Paige Wilson contributed to this report.
Paige Wilson is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @ByPaigeWilson or email her at PaigeW@CentralFloridaFuture.com.
Danielle Hendrix is a News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @ByDaniHendrix or email her at DanielleH@centralfloridafuture.com.
Nada Hassanein is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @nhassanein_ or email her at NadaH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.