EDITOR IN CHIEF
This is a developing story. It was last updated at 10 a.m. on Oct. 4, 2019.
The national office of Sigma Phi Epsilon has decided to disband the fraternity’s chapter at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO).
This decision follows a temporary suspension as the national office and the university launched an internal investigation.
Heather Kirk, the Chief Communication Officer at the national Sigma Phi Epsilon office issued the following statement to the Gateway:
“Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity has closed the Nebraska Beta Chapter at the University of Nebraska Omaha after determining the chapter violated Fraternity and University alcohol and risk management policies. Following an investigation, the Fraternity’s National Board of Directors made the decision to disband the chapter, effective immediately.
In September, the Fraternity received a report of policy violations related to a social event, and in partnership with the University of Nebraska Omaha, immediately ceased the chapter’s operations and launched an investigation. In this review, the Fraternity verified that social event management policy violations had occurred and also found evidence of unacceptable traditions in the chapter experience.”
Sam Petto of UNO Communications also issued a statement to the Gateway Thursday night. Petto said:
“Today, the UNO chapter of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity was notified that the fraternity’s national organization is disbanding its chapter. UNO supports and respects Sigma Phi Epsilon’s determination in this matter. A university investigation into several concerning alleged violations of UNO’s Student Code of Conduct continues. Ensuring a safe and positive learning environment for all students is a top priority at UNO. We appreciate the responsiveness and partnership of Sigma Phi Epsilon throughout this process.”
The alleged violations may include a sexual assault reported to the Omaha Police Department on Sept. 15. A police report obtained by the Gateway shows that the incident occurred at 3301 Harney Street, the same night Sigma Phi Epsilon hosted a party at their house located at the same address.
Police were dispatched to Lakeside Hospital for a report of sexual assault at 4:34 a.m. the morning of Sept. 15.
A student, who wishes to remain anonymous, fearing their safety, said they were at the party that night and recounted what they saw.
“When I got to the party, they were walking around with mini water bottles full of random different types of alcohol,” the student said. “They would go up to the new member and make them drink it. While they were drinking, they would yell ‘chug, mother****er, chug’ over and over. Later on in the night, some of the older members were singing, ‘she’s happy, she’s horny, she’ll put out by morning.’ By promoting stuff like that, it’s a miracle that every girl there wasn’t raped.”
A quote from the Sigma Phi Epsilon CEO Brian Warren was included in the statement from the national office.
“SigEp’s purpose is to develop balanced men who make a difference in their communities,” Warren said. “We provide education, resources and mentoring to guide our students to create a positive environment and foster a culture of dignity and respect. When they fail to live up to our values and expectations, the Fraternity must hold our chapters and individuals accountable for their poor decisions.”
Dustin Wolfe, UNO’s Fraternity and Sorority Life advisor, said:
“This means that the chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon at UNO is no longer a recognized chapter by their national organization and subsequently no longer a member of the Omaha Greeks community.”
As for the organization’s property located off-campus, Wolfe said since the property does not belong to UNO, any decision related to the property lies with the owners.
Wolfe said the FSL office will do its part to support the process of disbandment as it moves forward.
The Gateway is continuing to investigate the closing of the Nebraska Beta Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter. Updates will be posted when they become available.