Nearly a decade after removing itself from the Interfraternity Council, Duke’s Eta Prime chapter of Kappa Sigma fraternity is once again recognized by the University.
Negotiations between the fraternity and IFC began in March, with discussions among the IFC executive board and the presidents of each IFC fraternity. By the end of the semester, IFC agreed on a set of stipulations in order for Kappa Sigma to rejoin the council. The fraternity received provisional recognition from the national Kappa Sigma organization January 2011.
“The lack of off-campus fraternities is a strength... for IFC,” said IFC President Andrew Bentley, a senior. “I’m personally very excited for [Kappa Sigma] to come on because... it’s a really big step to working towards a more unified and stronger greek community.”
Kappa Sigma dissolved itself in 2002, facing impending sanctions from the University as well as its national headquarters due to issues of misconduct. The group continued unofficially operating off-campus under its chapter name, Eta Prime.
Kappa Sigma attempted to rejoin IFC during the 2010-2011 academic year but was unable to agree with IFC on terms for their re-entry, Bentley said. But when Alex Gendell, Trinity ‘12—then Kappa Sigma president—approached Bentley this year, Kappa Sigma had nearly finalized its charter from the national organization.
“Now that [IFC] knows we have a year under our belts following Kappa Sigma guidelines—which are akin to all the other fraternity guidelines—they had a little more faith that we could be a part of their system,” Gendell said.
He noted that the desire to rejoin IFC was fueled largely by the new housing model.
“We felt that Duke was changing a lot and it was clearly not in the benefit of off-campus fraternities,” Gendell said. “In past years, we could still block together as a pledge class.... Now that you’re randomly assigned and can only block with six, it just separates the class too much and doesn’t promote the unity that a fraternity should have.”
Todd Adams, senior associate dean of students and former director of fraternity and sorority life, said he recalls an overall sense of disappointment when the Eta Prime chapter of Kappa Sigma dissolved in 2002.
“It’s not uncommon for groups to go through some challenges, to have some sanctions due to discipline, and the fact that this group chose to [disaffiliate] rather than work through those challenges was disappointing at the time,” Adams said. “The University community was disappointed, the greek community was disappointed, and honestly I don’t think the young men involved were particularly happy either.”
Adams said the chapter chose to dissolve instead of facing punishment from the University and the national organization as a result of wayward conduct. The chapter would have experienced social suspension and higher insurance rates.
“They had alcohol policy violations, financial errors, and they were also levied with conduct unbecoming of the chapter,” Adams said.
Gendell added that the fraternity looks forward to having events with other student groups, noting that as an off-campus fraternity they weren’t allowed to affiliate with other student groups in any capacity. He also said alumni relations will improve as the chapter enjoys its national charter and IFC membership.
“Our alumni relations [executive board chair] now has a more prominent position because our alumni base is much more interested in being involved now that we’re back on campus and chartered,” Gendell said.
Clarybel Peguero, assistant dean of fraternity and sorority life, said she is excited for Kappa Sigma to come back to Duke but noted the difficulties associated with returning to a campus environment after such a long furlough.
“Because they haven’t been a recognized group for so long as far as University standing, it will be challenging for them to adhere to all the policies and procedures and having to do all the events and initiatives our office puts on,” Peguero said. “But I know they’ll be able to do it.”
Bentley declined to comment on the specific conditions for Kappa Sigma’s IFC reintegration but noted that they are not meant to demean the chapter in any way.
“The main theme is making sure they’re organizationally sound and that they’re ready to function and exist within the more formal framework that you have as an IFC fraternity.”
Incoming Kappa Sigma President Drew Evancho, a senior, said he looks forward to integrating his chapter into the IFC community.
“We’re excited to officially return to Duke’s campus and officially have events on campus,” Evancho said.
He noted that the chapter will continue with its philanthropic work, particularly its Military Heroes Campaign, which aids wounded military veterans.