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Greek judiciary slaps Sigma Nu

Jurors on the newly-established greek judicial board have reached a verdict following an alleged hazing incident April 14 when six Sigma Nu fraternity pledges were found inebriated on Old Erwin Road.

During the fall 2003 semester, the fraternity will be prohibited from hosting events on and off campus and from participating in intramural sports and other social and philanthropic chapter events. Additionally, the group will be required to run a Chronicle advertisement during the first week of the upcoming semester, apologizing for the incident and informing the Duke community of the judicial hearing outcome and the ensuing changes made to the chapter. Members must also remove the fraternity bench from outside their residential space in Kilgo Quadrangle.

Administrators said members of Sigma Nu also drafted apology letters to the Duke School for Children Middle School, the Durham County Sheriff's Department, the Chapel Hill Police Department and the Duke University Police Department.

University officials added that current pledges will be allowed to participate in initiation within the first two weeks of the fall semester, provided a national representative of the fraternity is present. Furthermore, judicial affairs deans will meet with future Sigma Nu recruits in 2004 to ensure that the prospective members understand their responsibilities and the hazing policy.

Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek said the members of Sigma Nu are committed to complying with all sections of the verdict.

"My sense is that the fraternity is positioned to really embrace this situation and to make the very best of it," Wasiolek said. "If they fulfill all parts of the sanction, they will be in a very different place than they are in now, and the likelihood of them repeating a situation like this would be minimized."

Sigma Nu President Andrew Axelrod declined to comment on the case. He wrote in an e-mail that, in the best interests of the fraternity, his group will directly address the entire University community in the fall semester about the matter, in lieu of comment now.

Associate Dean of Students for Judicial Affairs Kacie Wallace said cases involving hazing incidents are new to jurors on the greek judicial board who heard Sigma Nu's case. She added that the jurors, being greek students who have gone through pledging themselves, considered this case very seriously and thoughtfully when determining how to respond to this type of situation.

"[The jurors] are in a position to judge their peers and make hard decisions on what's appropriate and what's not appropriate," Wallace said. "[They thought about] what would help Sigma Nu and the community and what the expectations should be."

In addition to following regulations outlined by the greek judicial board, Sigma Nu is also expected to adhere to a national, four-phase development program called Leadership, Ethics, Achievement and Development during the 2003-2004 academic year. The LEAD program consists of group sessions, allowing members to engage in various activities, simulations and discussions to promote leadership in their chapter, campus and community settings.

Wallace said she anticipates this hazing case will not be the last the board hears and said it establishes a precedent for future incidents. Wallace added, however, that each situation will still be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. She also said this case has been a tremendous learning process for all the parties involved.

"It's a test case for Sigma Nu to respond well to these sorts of restrictions that have been put in place," she said. "It's not just a test case for the board. It's a test case for the greek community."

Wasiolek agreed Sigma Nu's hazing case sets a precedent for other potential hazing cases, although the sanctions will probably be modified and adapted depending on the severity of the suspected hazing and on the individual facts and circumstances of the particular situation.

"It's always difficult to know if a sanction is going to impact other groups," Wasiolek said. "What's most important is that we review and respond in a fair and just manner."

Nicole Manley, program coordinator for the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and liaison between the office and the greek judicial board, could not be reached for comment.

Cindy Yee contributed to this story.

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