TCNJ’s Vendetta Against Sigma Pi

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Her Campus Nationals or Her Campus TCNJ. This is an opinion piece backed with factual information.

Prior to this article, Sigma Pi never had the platform to publish their side of the battle. However, now it is more important than ever because students' rights are being infringed upon. The ability to go to a Sigma Pi formal, date party, or any other social event has been stripped from all members of Greek Life. They have been threatened not to associate with the brothers of the fraternity or else suffer the same consequences. So why report on it now, a year after the investigations? The answer is simple: the opportunities to make memories are passing students by due to unnecessary rules placed on members of Greek Life by the school. In addition to this injustice, the active members of Sigma Pi have had their experience at TCNJ marred.

Last fall, TCNJ launched an investigation on the Theta Delta Chapter of Sigma Pi due to a sexual assault allegation. While the allegation was proven false, another investigation on the chapter was launched on the grounds of alcohol and drug related allegations. Due to their findings, the College suspended the chapter until May 20, 2016. However, considering that the College’s website (https://conduct.tcnj.edu/student-conduct-code/#h.30j0zll) for Greek Life explains that getting in trouble for alcohol and membership-related incidents are very common among fraternities, the excessive measures used against Sigma Pi were unnecessary, and the school began to reveal it’s vendetta against the Theta Delta chapter. However, when Sigma Pi violated their suspension by taking a new pledge class, the College felt they had to prolong the suspension to 2019. While the school was justified in their actions, a brother of Sigma Pi claimed their nationals did not agree and actually forced the chapter to take a pledge class. Everyone on TCNJ's campus spoke about it in hushed tones and assumed it was over; yet, for the brothers of Sigma Pi, it was a very loud and real dilemma. The College has desperately tried to silence the fraternity, but the brothers had proven that they would not go down without a fight. However, through this grueling process, TCNJ has managed to tarnish not only the chapter’s name but the names of the individuals who wear the letters.

What people may not know is that the brothers of the Theta Delta chapter were given the Altruistic Campus Experience Project award over 25 other colleges across the nation, raised the most money for Relay for Life in 2016, and won the Sexual Assault Awareness award for the school. Although the brothers have been awarded multiple times for their community service efforts, they are still in a losing battle with the College to be recognized on campus. The brothers decided last year to disassociate from TCNJ, and Sigma Pi is now an independent fraternity with the support of their nationals. The whole school was buzzing when the Sigma Pi press release announcing the disassociation was published last year.

The College quickly acted on the news of the disassociation and made it clear that all recognized Greek Life organizations on TCNJ's campus are not to attend any Sigma Pi events or else suspension of those organizations could ensue. However, it is a given right in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to assemble as we please, and the College states in the IGC handbook on student conduct, “students at the College have the same rights and protections under the Constitutions of the United States and State of New Jersey as other citizens. These rights include freedom of expression, press, religion, and assembly”.

In the beginning of the fall 2016 semester, all members of Greek Life on campus received an email detailing Sigma Pi - a year after the investigations and the College still has such a hatred towards the chapter and its members. In the email, Sigma Pi is detailed as “hazardous to the community, unknowledgeable freshmen, and Greek Life” and “a disadvantage to Greek Life and TCNJ”; yet, the brothers give back to the community through trash pickups along Pennington Road and individually are all active and involved members of other school sponsored organizations such as sport teams, the Ambassador program, and various other clubs. In the email, there is a point entitled “proposed solution” as if this was a detrimental case for the school. TCNJ encourages members of Greek Life to send any evidence of Sigma Pi parties and get-togethers including “word of mouth” to the Inter-Greek Council (IGC). These measures seem like major efforts to cause problems between the chapter and their national headquarters in hopes of getting them disaffiliated. Besides this, the IGC reiterates the “Rule of Five” and implores all members of Greek Life to not attend any Sigma Pi related event or else suffer their own consequences. But again, why can the school dictate who people can and cannot associate with? Moreover, they specifically state, “These rules are meant for those who are friends or in relationships with men in Sigma Pi”. Friends or relationships? They have no compassion for the wholesome relations made at TCNJ under Greek Life and instead choose to deter people from hanging out and expanding these relationships they have made.

It is truly disheartening that the school is attempting to ruin student relations between the members of Greek Life and the brothers of Sigma Pi. The College is tearing apart existing friendships and relationships. How heart wrenching would it be if you were not allowed to be with your boyfriend or best friend because they were associated with a particular Greek organization or too many brothers are present? The student code of conduct also states the importance of respect for the “right of fellow Students to participate in College or outside organizations, associations, or relationships with other students without fear, threat, or act of hazing”. Sigma Pi disaffiliated from the school; therefore, they are an outside organization and fall under this rule and should be allowed this right. The school should promote healthy and friendly relations between the student body.

John Williams, alumni and past Grand Sage of Sigma Pi at the University of Delaware, commented on their disassociation via Facebook by writing, “Congratulations on this bold decision. I usually favor good relations with a host university. But many college administrators do not appreciate the life lessons that fraternities and sororities teach. I appreciate a universities' right to act in the best interest for the safety and welfare of the student body. However, Theta Delta is an exemplary organization whose members are what the university SHOULD hope for. They do not recognize it or appreciate it. Be even better that you are”. If someone of this honor can see the lunacy of the school’s tactics, why hasn’t it stopped?

While it might not be relevant in your life, the brothers of Sigma Pi experience a day-to-day struggle with the College. Not only has the College affected the members of Sigma Pi, but they have also restricted the members of all Greek Life organizations. Luckily for Sigma Pi, it seems as though this whole debacle has reinvigorated them and made them fight with a purpose; thus, giving them more meaning and importance.