Suspension halved for U fraternity

After settling with the school, Sigma Alpha Epsilon makes its return to campus on June 1.

Olivia Johnson

The University of Minnesota has halved a fraternity chapter’s suspension in a settlement reached by the two parties.

Last fall, after three incidents involving hazing, destruction of property and underage drinking, the school suspended the Minnesota chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon until June 1, 2017.

The fraternity filed a lawsuit against the University in August, and the chapter and the school settled on a reduced suspension in December, chapter advisor Peter Georgantones said.

The fraternity will instead return June 1, Georgantones said. The school is requiring the chapter to remain alcohol-free for two years.

“The sanctions were reduced as part of the terms of resolution agreed to by the University and the University chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon,” according to a University statement, which added that the resolution was “in the best interests of all involved.”

When the University moved to suspend the fraternity in June, a letter sent to SAE’s national headquarters from the school mentioned sexual assault as one of the violations.

“There was never even anything close to a sexual assault, and that was something the University and the Office of Student Affairs put out there,” Georgantones said.

The terms of the initial suspension prohibited fraternity members from living in their house and would have prevented them from rushing or holding meetings until 2017. The fraternity would have also had a probationary period until at least Sept. 3, 2019.

The University first suspended the fraternity for violating the student conduct code in three incidents over the past three years, according to a decision letter responding to SAE’s appeal of the suspension.

The first violation in 2013 involved an incident where older members of the fraternity allegedly drove newer members off campus and made them finish kegs of beer, the letter said.

“We have never condoned hazing at SAE,” Georgantones said. “That was one of the [incidents] they went back and looked at.”

Conduct at two separate events in 2014 and 2015 resulted in a member needing medical attention.

And in the third violation, members organized and attended a spring 2015 formal at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, Minn., causing $4,000 worth of damages, Georgantones said.

He said another violation cited an underage student for drinking alcohol in the fraternity house on University Avenue this year, but school documents don’t mention the incident.

“The bottom line was we took care of the damages, and the kids paid them right away. We owned up to the kids drinking in our basement,” Georgantones said. “Those are the three things that they nailed us on, basically.”

Georgantanes said SAE is down to 60 members from last year’s 134 and graduated 34 seniors last spring.

Going forward, the fraternity has plans to address its violations by having a live-in houseparent and holding a seminar about risky behavior and binge drinking, Georgantones said.

“We’re going to change our culture around here and promote … how risky behaviors need to be addressed by college students,” he said. “We have good kids here. We just had an issue, and we’re moving on from it.”