Sigma Chi fraternity's charter suspended following hazing allegations


Auburn's Sigma Chi's fraternity had its charter suspended Monday, Nov. 18, following hazing allegations reported by members of the community starting at the beginning of the semester.
The charter will be suspended until January 2015.
According to Michael Ciatto, grand praetor of Auburn Sigma Chi fraternity, the International Sigma Chi Fraternity has temporarily suspended the charter.
"The charter has been temporarily suspended until such time when we believe the environment at Auburn and alumni support is such that we can facilitate the restructuring of the chapter according to Sigma Chi's ideals and put it in a place of prominence on Auburn's campus," Ciatto said.
Sigma Chi has been on review by the International Fraternity since Sept. 7 after receiving hazing allegations, such as late mandatory study hours, to the Auburn Hazing Hotline and the International Sigma Chi Fraternity Hotline.
"The hope is in a about a year we can come back with strong alumni support and bring back some members that are still around and rebuild," said T.J. Harlin, president of Sigma Chi fraternity. "We've been here for 75 years and we donate thousands of dollars to Children's Miracle Network each year through our Derby Days campaign. There's a lot of good stuff that goes along with this fraternity and we're hoping in about a year we can come back stronger than ever."
Auburn University defines hazing as, "Hazing is any action taken or situation created intentionally or unintentionally whether on or off campus, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule...or other activities which are not consistent with organizational laws, ritual, or policy or the regulations and policies of the educational institution. Actions, forced or required or implied to be required, which violate federal, state, or local law, are considered hazing."
Harlin said rumors about half of their freshmen pledge class dropping at the beginning of the semester are false.
"We had about five or six guys drop," Harlin said. "When those things happen, you'll have guys drop because of financial obligations and others who figure out the organization just isn't for them. There's nobody who was ever in physical harm."
A source close to the controversy said the hazing reported was not physical or alcohol-related hazing. The source also said approximately seven or eight other fraternities have also been reported through Auburn Hazing Hotline this semester.
Ciatto said the International Fraternity has not received allegations to the Auburn Hazing Hotline or International Fraternity Hotline prior to this year.
"Any concerns that we have ever had, we have dealt with internally, including the removal of brothers when deemed necessary," Ciatto said.
Ciatto said Sigma Chi will serve as a role model for other fraternities on Auburn's campus.
"Our international leadership is 100 percent dedicated to stopping all instances of hazing, regardless of the severity [of the hazing] and as such we felt it was our responsibility to take the lead at Auburn's campus and set an example that all hazing must be dealt with swiftly," Ciatto said. "(We) hope that other fraternities would follow suit."
Harlin said the brothers of Sigma Chi who were causing the problems were dismissed from the fraternity before the charter was revoked.
"The sad thing is you have a small group of guys who can tarnish the reputation of a large group of people," Harlin said. "It's a shame that (Sigma Chi's) name is associated with that kind of behavior because the vast majority of the guys [in Sigma Chi] are the most upstanding, gentlemanly people that you'll ever meet. It's a shame that they're forced to deal with these rumors."
Amanda Clare, IFC graduate assistant, said the University has nothing to do with Sigma Chi's charter being revoked.
Sigma Chi will keep the house, but all brothers living there will have to move out by the end of December.
"We have every aspiration to return to Auburn's campus at the correct time when we can develop a sustainable chapter aligned with our values," Ciatto said.

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