The National Board of Directors of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity voted to close the colony of Sigma Phi Epsilon at Wake Forest University, effective May 23, 2017. A key factor in this determination was the colony’s choice not to submit a charter application for review. Other key factors in this determination by their governing body include recent conduct issues (including hazing and providing alcohol to underage students), unsatisfactory academic performance, and repeated failures to meet the necessary requirements to receive a charter. Wake Forest University values the partnership with Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity and respects the rights of its leadership to make the decisions they feel are best for their organization. In support of the decision by the National Board of Directors, Wake Forest University will also withdraw recognition of the colony.
During Spring 2017, the Office of the Dean of Students placed Sigma Phi Epsilon on Deferred Suspension status through May 21, 2018, followed by a Probation status through Commencement 2019. This conduct status was the result of two incidents. The first incident occurred January 13, 2017, in which underage students were provided alcohol by members of Sigma Phi Epsilon, resulting in the transport of a student to the hospital for overconsumption of alcohol. The second incident came from a police report filed on February 18, 2017, in which members of Sigma Phi Epsilon admitted to hazing new members at an off-campus residence. A Student Conduct Hearing Panel consisting of students, faculty, and staff reviewed the case and recommended a finding of responsible and the subsequent sanctions, all of which was accepted by the Office of the Dean of Students. University staff shared the findings of the investigation with Sigma Phi Epsilon headquarters staff. In response, the Sigma Phi Epsilon national leadership requested that the colony submit its third charter application for review at their National Board of Directors meeting, scheduled for April 28-30. The chapter declined to submit an application.
Over the past eight years, the Sigma Phi Epsilon colony struggled to achieve and maintain the criteria set forth by their national organization to achieve chapter status. They received multiple extended opportunities to meet the standards of the national organization. In the 2014-2015 academic year, the Sigma Phi Epsilon colony submitted its first charter petition since the organization’s return to campus in 2009. The National Board of Directors reviewed this petition at their December meeting and voted to deny the charter application and close the colony. The colony’s leadership appealed the decision and the National Board of Directors voted to continue the colony’s operations during their May meeting and required the colony to perform a membership review. During the 2015-2016 academic year, the Sigma Phi Epsilon colony submitted its second charter petition to the Sigma Phi Epsilon National Board of Directors. The National Board of Directors heard this request in April. They voted to deny the charter again due to consistently low academic performance but continue colony operations.
Throughout that time, both the national organization and the University provided support and resources to the colony to aid in their pursuit of chapter status. The colony received additional visits from consultants and trainings from staff members. Wake Forest staff members met with chapter leadership on multiple occasions, provided frameworks for goal-setting and actions plans to achieve those goals. But after an extended colony period, the National Board of Directors made the decision they believed was in the best interest of the colony and the national fraternity.