By Sam Lenhart —
Fraternities are infamous for throwing out-of-control parties, but has Sigma Tau Gamma taken it too far? The University of Wisconsin–Stout fraternity has found themselves fighting to remain a campus organization after several incidents have landed them in hot water with the university.
Over the course of several years the fraternity has been in and out of the spotlight for underage drinking, fights and even the destruction of Forest Point Golf course during their spring formal in 2005, which subsequently led to the termination of four members and a probation period lasting until June 1, 2008. Unfortunately, that did not stop the fraternity from violating their probation by hosting a house party in February 2007, which landed 133 students underage drinking citations. The organization was put on a four-year suspension for their actions.
Currently, Sigma Tau Gamma is recognized as an organization and is allowed to participate in campus activities as a group. On Oct. 28, 2014, Gamma Sigma Tau met with the Stout Student Association to look over their reputation on campus. At the meeting, Sigma Tau President Nathan Pahl, senior in Game Design and Development explained that too much emphasis has been placed on the negative things that have occurred rather than focusing on the positive things that the fraternity has been a part of on campus.
The Sigma Tau members have been dedicated to working with the Special Olympics since 2011. “I’ve had many speak highly of the Sigma Tau Gamma brothers,” said the local Special Olympics Coordinator Melissa Maxwell.
Steve Latour, a representative of the national organization, also spoke during the meeting and brought up a two-year reorganizational plan that will be enforced to get the fraternity on the right track again. The plan will involve training for a new alumni advisory team. “They will follow this plan and if they don’t follow this plan we will take other actions that could involve a membership review of all of the guys that we have,” said Latour. “They know what’s at stake and they are willing to work for it.”
The SSA has also set a plan to determine their stance with the fraternity. “Right now the senators have been charged with contacting their constituents to gather how the general campus feels in regards to their recognition,” said the SSA Director of Organizational Affairs Shelby Schuppe.
Members of fraternities are supposed to be campus leaders but their repetitive actions are proving otherwise. “It’s no surprise that students, especially fraternities, are going to throw parties and drink, but I think they need to get it under control if they are going to be taken seriously by anyone on campus,” said senior Kelsey Witt. “I don’t think they should be removed from campus though; people make mistakes and hopefully Sigma Tau is learning from theirs.”
Not all students on campus are defending the group either. “I think that fraternities that care more about reckless partying than their actual duties as members of a school organization should be punished and if that means removing them from campus so be it,” said a senior wishing to remain anonymous.
The exact future of Sigma Tau Gamma is not quite set in stone but if they manage to keep their name out of disciplinary headlines, they will continue to be recognized as a respected organization at the university. “The best thing they can do if you ask me is keep a low profile,” said Witt. “I can’t imagine they would get into much trouble if they don’t throw parties with wall-to-wall underage drinkers.”
The SSA has plans to continue discussing the fraternity’s fate in upcoming meetings.