SigEp Fraternity Loses Charter
Nat’l Headquarters Cite Low Membership, Plan Reorganizing
The national headquarters of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity suspended operation of the MIT Massachusetts Delta chapter on Jan. 28, said SigEp Vice President Brian W. Schmidt ’07.
The revocation of the charter was a result of low membership numbers, said SigEp national headquarters Communications Director Scott Thompson. The national headquarters plans to reorganize the fraternity in the fall of 2005, he said.
Presently, only 15 people reside in the house, which needs 28 people to financially sustain itself, Schmidt said.
The SigEp national headquarters arrived at its decision to suspend operations of the MIT chapter at the behest of the local Alumni Corporation. The suspension came as a surprise to the members of the fraternity, Schmidt said.
SigEp low on money, members
The fraternity, whose charter was revoked in 1998 for an alcohol-related incident, has been rebuilding its membership since then, Schmidt said. The fraternity had a substantial amount of money in reserve at the time, but none remains now.
“It seems like we don’t have enough manpower to stay in the house by ourselves. We are out of money,” Schmidt said.
Thompson said that the national headquarters “came to an agreement” that the “chapter wasn't heading in the right direction.” Previous efforts by headquarters to spur recruitment had failed, giving headquarters “grounds... to go in and really take a look at the chapter,” he said. The national headquarters felt the fraternity “needed to start over,” he said.
Thompson said that the fraternity was expected to maintain a membership above 40, and as they failed to reach that level, a reorganization team would “go out and recruit more men to get into the chapter.”
According to a copy of the proposal provided by Schmidt, members of the fraternity are suspended until they graduate. The proposal states that members of the Headquarters Expansion Team, which will reorganize the fraternity, will interview current freshmen and sophomore members of the fraternity for possible readmission.
The reorganization will begin next fall, with members of headquarters staff and possibly some local alumni recruiting new members, he said.
Presently, six seniors, only four of whom are graduating in June, and four juniors, four sophomores, and one boarder live in the house. An additional senior and seven freshmen are non-residential members, Schmidt said in an e-mail.
The directive, brought to the MIT chapter by the president of the Alumni Corporation on Jan. 23 and approved by SigEp national headquarters on Jan. 28, “was kind of like a surprise,” Schmidt said. “We had no involvement in this happening.”
Schmidt said he was aware of meetings between the Alumni Corporation and the national headquarters but did not expect that the result would be “this extreme.”
Schmidt wrote in an e-mail that the action “came at probably the most opportune moment,” as the fraternity had run through its money, although the fraternity was “on the upswing” with recruiting.
House future uncertain
The future of the house, located at 518 Beacon Street, is now uncertain, although current residents will remain there this semester, Schmidt said.
According to the proposal, members of the reorganized fraternity “will not have access to [their] physical chapter house until success criteria are met.” The proposal states that for at least the next two years, rooms in the house will be rented to boarders at “market rates,” and “it is expected that present members will be some of the renters.”
Schmidt that it is difficult to speculate on the exact details of the housing situation, as national headquarters has passed the proposal for reorganization but has not yet decided upon a specific plan of action. Since the reorganization does not occur until the fall, it may be a while until a plan is put together, he said, leaving members of the fraternity in a state of limbo.
Interfraternity Council President Christopher P. Child ’06 said that SigEp’s status as a voting member of the Interfraternity Council has not yet been decided. One possibility would be for SigEp to become an associate member temporarily, and then reapply for full IFC membership in a few years, he said. Associate members can rush with the IFC but cannot vote. The matter will be discussed in the coming weeks, possibly at the IFC Presidents’ Council meeting on Feb. 9, he said.