Faced with impending sanctions from its national headquarters and the University, Kappa Sigma fraternity decided to dissolve its Duke chapter Saturday.
Although it will lose its on-campus housing and recognition from the University, group leaders said they plan to continue social and rush activities.
"We do not see this as our group breaking up," Kappa Sig President Jeff Adams said. "We see this as our group breaking from our nationals."
The group was supposed to have gone "dry"--or alcohol-free--last spring after a pledge was hospitalized for alcohol poisoning. After an intoxicated member fell out a section window earlier this semester, both the University and the fraternity's nationals became aware the fraternity was not dry. Nationals subsequently e-mailed the chapter's leadership Thursday outlining sanctions that they would have to abide by the rest of this year and all next year. The sanctions dictate that the fraternity increase dues to $300 per member per month to cover higher insurance premiums; pay a $2,500 fine for any subsequent alcohol violations; lock the commons room indefinitely; create a campus group for students opposed to alcohol; and attend district and national fraternity meetings.
Adding to the fraternity's difficulties, any event with four or more Kappa Sig members in attendance would be considered a Kappa Sig event, making any off-campus events with alcohol illegal as well.
After a two-hour meeting Saturday in which members discussed the implications of those restrictions, members voted nearly unanimously to disassociate from the national fraternity and the University's Interfraternity Council. They notified their nationals and the University Sunday of their decision.
"This was not an easy decision to make, but we all felt it was the right thing to do in light of the way University and national fraternities seem to be heading," said Adams, a junior. "We felt we could no longer rush kids or want to rush kids under those sanctions-they compromised what we were as a group."
Kappa Sig Vice President Mark Boyd added that he saw a common theme in the deactivation of three fraternities in the past three years--also including Phi Kappa Psi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon-and he suspected more will follow suit this year. "I can't tell if the University is trying to get people like us off-campus or just get rid of us," said Boyd, a junior. "They need to be frank with us.... In my dealings with [Assistant Dean of Students Todd Adams], I have found him to be pretty duplicitous, with an agenda contrary to our own."
Todd Adams could not be reached for comment.
Like SAE, which dissolved last January after facing similar pressures and restrictions from its nationals, Kappa Sig hopes to rush a pledge class informally this spring. Kappa Sig members said they would like to meet with leaders of SAE--which reined in 21 pledges after announcing its deactivation last spring-about rushing as an off-campus fraternity.
"What we did probably made their decision much easier because we proved we can have successful events off-campus without having a section or recognition from the University," former SAE president Will Brown said. "It really helps us a lot too, especially with rush so that the freshmen can see being an off-campus fraternity is not just something we had to do last year but rather a continual issue."
Brown, a senior, added he would be interested in meeting with Kappa Sig leaders to discuss a rush plan for off-campus fraternities. Phi Psi--which did not rush a pledge class last year but took in more than 30 new members in spring 2001 when the University disbanded the group--would likely not partake in such discussions, former Phi Psi president Peter Menachem said.
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Without the infrastructure of IFC, both groups will face challenges in the rush process, said IFC President Jeremy Morgan.
"I think there is a changing tone where groups think they can make it without IFC recognition," said Morgan, a senior. Unlike Boyd, however, Morgan did not expect more groups to share Kappa Sig's fate this year.
Despite the move, Kappa Sig still plans to hold weekly meetings and host social events. "The negative side of this is that we parted with 130 years of tradition at this school," Boyd said. "The positive thing is that nothing has really changed."