Illinois Wesleyan University fraternity gets 3-year suspension following hazing incident

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Illinois Wesleyan University’s (IWU) Sigma Chi fraternity has been suspended for three years as a result of an April 10 hazing incident that resulted in personal injury to a student.

In an update sent Wednesday morning, university officials said the fraternity will face sanctions for the hazing incident. Under these sanctions, current undergraduate members of the fraternity:

  • cannot gather for meetings or activities as a fraternity, including living in the chapter house
  • cannot display public-facing branding in a context that suggests they are still organizing and acting as a fraternity
  • cannot maintain a social media presence as a fraternity

Dean of Students at IWU Dr. Karla Carney-Hall said after concurring investigations by the school and the national Sigma Chi chapter, current and former members said hazing was part of the culture.

“That included verbal harassment, it included some physical harassment, it included things that were embarrassing and humiliating as part of the process and it included things that were embedded deep enough into the culture that I think folks had normalized that behavior in someway,” Carney-Hill said.

Students who planned to live at the fraternity house during the fall semester will be reassigned to other housing on campus. Officials said the house may be opened for other student housing.

Hill said the University owns the house and will be making sure it stays in “good condition” for the next three years.

“We are able to use that as part of our housing inventory if we would need it. So we’re in the beginning phases of assessing how we might use the house over the course of the next few years,” Carney-Hill said.

Sigma Chi alumni will still be allowed to gather for events such as Homecoming in approved spaces during the suspension, but current students will not be allowed to attend alumni events.

The fraternity will be eligible to return to campus with a rechartered chapter in the 2024-2025 school year should it meet specified requirements and establish a new alumni advisory board. The fraternity would be allowed to recruit and educate new members in spring 2025.

That rechartered chapter will also be eligible to return to the chapter house in fall 2026 with a live-in advisor at the chapter’s expense. Occupancy requirements must also be met.

“Culture change within any campus environment or any student organization is very difficult, especially if it’s thoroughly embedded within the member expectations,” Carney-Hill said.

Representatives of the university also sent a statement with the update:

Through these sanctions, we hope to address a serious safety concern regarding hazing and allow future leaders to re-establish a chapter with values consistent with University and fraternity values. These sanctions should not be seen as a loss of confidence in our campus leadership experiences or our fraternity and sorority community. In listening carefully to questions about hazing and climate concerns expressed by students and alumni, we will also pursue a systematic review of our campus climate. The University will establish a strategic action group to review our existing hazing policies and expand current efforts in education and awareness. Details regarding the formal charge and makeup of this group will be forthcoming. We remain committed to fostering healthy and safe leadership opportunities within communities on campus that uplift a positive sense of belonging. These are at the heart of our vibrant campus life at Illinois Wesleyan.

President S. Georgia Nugent
Vice President for Student Affairs Karla Carney-Hall
Mike Greenberg, 68th Grand Consul, Sigma Chi Fraternity

The Sigma Chi International Fraternity posted a press release regarding the closure which in part reads:

“The Executive Committee considers closing a chapter to be its last available option when resolving member accountability issues. “In this instance, however, our members’ actions and the severity of the circumstances made our decision for us. The Sigma Chi International Fraternity has a zero-tolerance policy for hazing. It is only by closing the chapter that we will be able to one day reestablish an environment at Illinois Wesleyan University that supports its students and our future members.”

71st Grand Consul (international president) Steve Schuyler, Sigma Chi

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