Investigations begin into Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity

By Sarah Jorgensen

Multiple investigations have commenced into the activities of the Beta Beta Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon.

In an email sent to students on Friday from Carmen Vazquez, Vice President of Student Affairs, she explained that the chapter has “reportedly demonstrated behavior inconsistent with the University’s Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities.”

University adminstration has not released the details of what the allegations are against the fraternity, but the international organization of Sigma Phi Epsilon is also involved in the investigation.
According to Pamela Gray Payton, Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs, an investigation of the chapter commenced from the fraternity’s international office first, which led to an internal university inquiry. The San Diego Police Department was also notified of the allegations. The chapter, which consists of more than 50 undergraduate students, has since ceased all operations on USD’s campus until further notice. Payton said that it is too early to know whether or not the investigation will result in the full removal of the chapter from campus.

In light of the email and suspension, a handful of the members have told friends they have resigned or intend to resign because of the fallout from the ongoing investigation. The Vista has confirmed that at least one member’s resignation has been posted on a social media outlet that was later taken down hours later.

The investigation within USD has been led by Public Safety but may come to involve other areas of campus, according to Payton.

“[The investigation] is a thorough review of the fraternity’s activities and membership,” Payton said.

Payton explained that the allegations, which have not been officially released beyond the chapter and university administration, raised concerns about student conduct. She said that it is unlikely the results of the investigation will be released to the public, citing student privacy concerns.

“The process will be fair,” Payton said. “The intent is to gather as much information as possible through the investigation.”

Requests for comment from the Beta Beta chapter’s president Nick Collins were deferred to the international Sigma Phi Epsilon office. Their office released a statement, echoing the sentiment of the email sent to USD students and faculty.

“In partnership with the University of San Diego, Sigma Phi Epsilon has instructed its California Beta Beta chapter to cease all operations due to allegations that some chapter members have violated USD’s Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities,” the statement reads. “The Fraternity is working with the University to investigate these allegations and determine an appropriate response.”

Though the pending allegations have not been revealed to students and faculty, opinions on the impending suspension have provoked responses from students across campus. Nate Heinz, a communications major, senior and member of Delta Tau Delta expressed the need for the Greek community to come together in light of allegations of wrongdoing.

“I think this is a time when not only Greek Life but all of USD needs to rally behind Sig Ep, and support them as they go through this process,” Heinz said. “Having gone through a similar fraternity ordeal myself my sophomore year, I know first hand how frustrating and stressful this kind of situation can be. This is a time for USD students to take pride in their school and act like real ‘Toreros’ by supporting their brothers as they go through their review. The last thing we need is gossip to tarnish the reputation of one of USD’s oldest fraternity’s, let alone the reputation of USD itself.”
Fellow senior and member of Alpha Chi Omega Paige Carey expressed similar sentiments.

“SigEp has always been a brother fraternity to me – I’ve always gotten along with those boys really well,” Carey said. “Seeing them go through something like this has been really hard and stressful for everyone. Regardless of whether or not they’re in a fraternity or not, I’m still going to hold those men dear to my heart. I think what’s important right now is being supportive of everyone and not being judgmental about whether they’re in a Greek organization.”

The SDPD had been reached by The Vista for comment, but they were unable to comment by press time.

The impact of the investigation on the wider Greek community at USD is still unknown.

“It is too early to tell what will happen,” said Dr. Cynthia Avery, Assistant Vice President of Student Life. “We will learn from the investigation. It is premature to know whether this will impact other chapters.”

Payton emphasized that the university was concerned for the well-being students involved in the investigation, saying that they reached out to members specifically to notify them about the university’s resources.

“I’d like to stress that the health and safety of students is paramount,” Payton said. “We understand that going through an investigation may be stressful, so students should utilize our health and wellness resources.”

While Payton and Avery were reluctant to give the investigation a timeline, they said that the university hopes to conclude it by the end of this semester.