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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato


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Sigma Nu put on probation by MSSA

Must perform 380 hours of community service

by Dannie Higginbotham and Derek Wehrwein

Issue date: 02/26/09 Section: Campus News
The Minnesota State Student Association decided Wednesday how to address a formal complaint filed against an MSU fraternity, putting the fraternity on probation and giving its members 380 hours of community service.

A former MSU chapter president filed the formal complaint against Sigma Nu in connection with a Jan. 16 party where 133 people, including 111 MSU students, were cited or arrested, most for underage consumption.

The party was held at a residence rented by five people, four of them members of the Sigma Nu fraternity. Nineteen of Sigma Nu's 55 members were cited or arrested at the party.

In its meeting Wednesday, MSSA Speaker Brett Carpenter recommended the chapter be placed under probation in its status as a Recognized Student Organization until chapter members completed 1,100 hours of community service. During the probationary period, Sigma Nu would have lost all privileges RSOs enjoy, including eligibility to receive student fee funds and the ability to reserve space in the Centennial Student Union.

After senators convened privately for a 20-minute caucus, Off-Campus Senator Kris Lovstad moved to reduce the number of hours from 1,100 to 380, an amendment that passed.

The senate then passed another amendment to allow Sigma Nu to remain a registered RSO for the probationary period, but to have its status suspended a semester if the community service isn't completed by Aug. 24.

Carpenter, in presenting his recommendation, noted that the by-laws of the chapter define a social function as "any event organized by the chapter, or events that may be perceived as a chapter function that involves alcohol."

"I know it's all relative," Carpenter said, "but 19 members - that's quite a few and can easily be viewed as a chapter event."

Even after the amendments were made to the recommendation, debate continued.

Off-Campus Senator Isaiah Maddox said he was against discipline from MSSA.

"Everyone who got in trouble has already gotten punished," Maddox said. "It's like beating a dead horse."

College of Allied Health and Nursing Senator Bob Dooley echoed that sentiment.

"Is it fair [for other members] to have to do hours for something they had no part of?" he asked. "I don't think it's right to punish the entire organization when they did not have control over the event."

Others disagreed, however.

"The fraternity as a whole needs to take responsibility," said Off-Campus Senator Abby Knott, who voted in favor of the amended recommendation.

Off-Campus Senator Amin Abdul-Mohomed said he also felt sanctions were necessary.

"With us being representative of students, it's our responsibility to take due action," Abdul-Mohomed said. "We don't want to give the message that we support this kind of behavior to the university body and student body in general."

MSSA passed the amended recommendation 16-6 with four senators abstaining.

Six Sigma Nu members serve on the senate. Three members - Dooley, Jayme Pretzloff and Michael Cooper - abstained from the final vote while three other members - Philip Shea, Maddox and Luke VanBeek - voted no, Shea through a proxy.

Carpenter defended his original recommendation.

"The recommendation from my office was as objective as possible," Carpenter said. "I did nothing more than subject Sigma Nu to its own constitution."

Anderson said the senate shouldn't have had to address the issue of discipline in the first place.

"It's abundantly clear this shouldn't have been MSSA's job," Anderson said. "The student conduct board should assume the duty and it's the director of Student Rights and Responsibilities' job."

Dannie Higginbotham is the Reporter assistant news editor
Derek Wehrwein is the Reporter editor in chief