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Fraternities Close To Name Agreement

By Dan McGuire
Staff Reporter

Epsilon Theta and Sigma Nu expect to resolve their disagreement over use of the name "Epsilon Theta" over the course of the next month, said representatives of both groups. The disagreement led to a court complaint in May.

"It's my impression that it's almost a done deal," said David Irmscher, a lawyer representing Sigma Nu.

The Epsilon Theta independent living group was chartered as the Epsilon Theta chapter of the Sigma Nu fraternity in 1924. The group separated from the national organization in 1974 and took the name Epsilon Theta after the chapter began accepting women and elected a woman as its president.

On May 4, Epsilon Theta filed an injunction against Sigma Nu's parent organization to prevent the local chapter from using Epsilon Theta as its chapter name.

Chapter name primary concern

Ieuan Mahoney, Epsilon Theta's lawyer, said that issues regarding the ownership of Epsilon Theta's house and other assets were resolved early in the discussion. The main points now are what the restrictions are on use of the name, Mahoney said.

"The theory was to avoid every reasonable avenue possible for confusion between Sigma Nu and Epsilon Theta," said Maurice Littlefield, executive director of the Sigma Nu International Fraternity.

"We spoke with the judge in July and that started us working on a consent agreement with Sigma Nu national," said Matthew N. Condell '95, president of the Epsilon Theta Corporation. "We were going to allow Sigma Nu to use the Epsilon Theta chapter name with several severe restrictions on how it could be used."

The agreement as it currently stands would require the local chapter to be known as the "Epsilon Theta Chapter of Sigma Nu Incorporated." The agreement also prevents Sigma Nu from identifying itself as just "Epsilon Theta" in anything other than internal documents.

Alumni affiliation decided

Because active alumni can contribute funds and time to groups, questions over which group has the rights to alumni initiated before the separation have been the subject of intense scrutiny.

"If the house ever had to deal with a [major expense] we'd prefer not to be competing against a new chapter" for alumni gifts, said Epsilon Theta Commander Andrew L. Shultz '96. "Alumni who want to continue to be affiliated with Sigma Nu" can do so, he added. "It's not much of a sticking point at the moment... we've basically resolved that.".

The parties agreed that Epsilon Theta members who became alumni after 1974 will not be considered by Sigma Nu as its alumni. "Every member of Epsilon Theta local chapter is not a member of Sigma Nu and vice versa," Littlefield said.

"Everyone who has been initiated into the national organization is entitled to its benefits," Littlefield said, "but they're free not to be involved if they so choose it's an individual choice."

Condell agreed. "Anyone who was part of Sigma Nu before Epsilon Theta was formed are joint alumni both sides have access to those alumni," he said.