Sigma Chi Found Guilty of Hazing, Tries to Suppress the News

Sigma Chi fraternity pleaded guilty in November to six hazing violations and was found guilty of one more after an anonymous e-mail sparked an investigation that lasted almost a month.

Charges include forced consumption of alcohol and other substances, verbal harassment and assigning illegal activities as tasks.

Carolina’s Greek Judicial Board officials suspended the fraternity until 2009, meaning the fraternity will not be allowed to hold rush or any other formal events. Sigma Chi has appealed those sanctions.

The national chapter of Sigma Chi said it would conduct an internal investigation into the charges and would expel from the fraternity any members found guilty of hazing.

Interfraternity Council officials received an anonymous report on Nov. 5 from a Sigma Chi pledge’s parent, who wrote that hazing at the fraternity was causing emotional and physical distress to the pledge.

Hazing – acts that subject individuals to risks causing individuals injury, personal distress or personal indignities in connection to recruitment, initiation or continued membership of an organization or society – is a violation of state law.

On Nov. 29, the day after the fraternity was charged with the violations, 10,000 copies of The Daily Tar Heel went missing from their distribution boxes across campus and around Chapel Hill. The DTH‘s front page headline read, “Sigma Chi guilty on hazing charges.” The newspaper prints 20,000 copies Monday through Friday, and they are distributed across the campus and Orange County.

After DTH General Manager Kevin Schwartz and Editor-In-Chief Joseph Schwartz filed a report with UNC Department of Public Safety and said the perpetrators would face larceny charges, the fraternity’s leaders came forward and confessed Sigma Chi’s involvement with the thefts.

In a statement printed in the newspaper Nov. 30, leaders of the fraternity wrote that its actions were “an ill-conceived prank that was seeking to restrict access to that issue.” Members also wrote that, because the newspapers are distributed at no charge to the University community, they did not know it was illegal to take them.

Through a third party moderator, the newspaper and the fraternity reached an agreement in which the fraternity would pay for the property it stole and make a public statement confessing its involvement with the incident.

All sororities and fraternities at UNC are required to hold meetings covering hazing rules each year.

Last year, Beta Theta Pi fraternity lost its privilege to host social events for three semesters after the fraternity was found guilty of verbal harassment and placing new members in subservient roles.

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