Sigma Phi Epsilon to recolonize four years after dismissal
Four years after being disbanded for undisclosed violations of both Washington University and national fraternity policy, the Beta chapter of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity will return to Washington University this semester, participating in fall rush to begin the process of recolonizing their organization.
According to representatives, the recolonization will establish a very different fraternity from the one that left campus four years ago, with no pledging period and a more focused set of values for members to adhere to.
Sigma Phi Epsilon Directors of New Chapter Development Patrick Gallagher and Peter Mallett, who will be living near Danforth Campus throughout the fall semester as they work to launch the organization, noted that the fraternity will seek to provide members with an alternative to a traditional Greek experience.
“Our membership experience [will look] different from a pledging model organization…Our experience is called the balanced man program, which is really focused on four years of continuous personal development and growth for our members,” Gallagher said. “Now all we need is a group of men who are looking for a different fraternity experience from what the stereotype would be.”
Assistant Director of Leadership and Fraternity and Sorority Life David Stetter, who was not employed by Washington University at the time of the group’s departure from campus, noted that a variety of factors played a part in the decision to allow the fraternity to return to campus the first semester possible, as the last remaining member of the old chapter graduated last spring.
“To me it seems like the decision [to leave] was made more for internal reasons, and the University was supportive of that decision,” he said. “And that’s part of why the organization can come back now; because when they departed, it was a joint decision, and that showed they shared our values.”
In addition to the organization’s cooperation during their move away from campus, Stetter added that changes at the fraternity’s national level helped make the group’s return possible.
“The [older] chapter was a traditional chapter, meaning it was a pledge model chapter. Sigma Phi Epsilon has since removed that style of chapter from their national program…This chapter will be a balanced man chapter, which will be a completely different style of chapter, and nationally those chapters perform better than the traditional style chapters,” he said.
Additionally, Stetter noted that a strong local community pushed for the fraternity’s return.
“It’s a historic chapter,” he said. “A lot of predominant alumni from the chapter have had a lot of significant roles at the institution, so there’s support on the alumni basis for the chapter to return.”
While the fraternity will participate in formal recruitment this fall, Gallagher noted that he expects many new members to become interested and join even after bids are first extended. As part of the no-pledge model, students who receive a bid will immediately become full members of the fraternity.
“We will be participating in formal recruitment, but many of the people that we meet with will be after that period,” he said. “Most of our recruitment will be done in the first half of the semester, and then we’re going to start shifting focus into chapter training and selecting our leaders.”
As part of the effort to recruit new members, the fraternity will offer three $1,000 scholarships to Washington University male students. The deadline for application to the scholarships is Sept. 13, and applicants are not required to join the fraternity or affiliate themselves with it in any way.
“One of the core principles to Sigma Phi Epsilon is the idea of being a balanced man,” Gallagher said. “We believe that sound mind and sound body make up the pillars that create that balanced man, so part of the values of the scholarship seek to recognize and reward men who seek to live out those elements of sound mind and sound body in their life.”
In any case, fraternity leaders are hopeful that the new organization will thrive in an environment that they believe will be ideal for it.
“We’re really looking forward to coming into a community that values academic success and that values community involvement with all of their organizations,” Mallett said. “Something that Patrick and I have seen in our conversations here is that a lot of students are already involved in a lot of different organizations and are involved in forming this tight-knit community here, and we’re really excited to extend that.”
Editor’s note: Editor-in-Chief Noa Yadidi is a member of Delta Gamma and Associate Editor Wesley Jenkins is a member of Beta Theta Pi. They were not involved in the reporting or editing of this story.