The Sigma Alpha Mu Sigma Beta fraternity chapter at The Ohio State University has been suspended by the university and its national organization after the Office of Student Affairs determined the chapter had violated the university's Code of Student Conduct.
The chapter, which was established in 1920 and had 95 undergraduate members in spring, was notified that it was placed under interim suspension by the university March 9 after an altercation in February.
According to Jeff Bloom, a junior biology major and president of the chapter, the suspension was due to an investigation of a fight at a bar a few blocks from the fraternity's house. The fight allegedly involved a member of Sigma Alpha Mu and a member of another fraternity on campus. Bloom said an individual was injured during the fight and his chapter was accused of covering up what happened.
"It was like guilty until proven innocent," Bloom said.
Dave Isaacs, spokesman for OSU's Office of Student Life, explained that under interim suspension, the chapter was to temporarily cease activities and was not allowed to engage in certain activities on campus, including social functions. The chapter was ultimately found in violation of student conduct while on suspension.
"We were a little careless while on this suspension," said Matt Fein, a Solon resident and senior studying logistics at OSU. "We attempted to schedule a football tailgate for this fall with a sorority, and we didn't realize that that was against our suspension."
Fein said that in May a sorority surprised the chapter with a party at the fraternity's off-campus house. He said the chapter was not aware the party was going to take place. A member of the Interfraternity Council, OSU's governing council, saw the party happening and reported it to the university, which led to sanctions from OSU.
Bloom said he was notified July 2 that OSU had suspended the chapter for one year, followed by a one-year probation. On July 20, the national organization notified the chapter that it had suspended its charter. Bloom said the national suspension will last two to three years.
Bloom was also notified July 20 that his chapter is no longer allowed to live in its off-campus house. The building, which is owned by a local housing corporation made up of OSU alumni from the fraternity chapter, was expected to house 43 fraternity members this year.
Isaacs said the university helped out with the housing situation as soon as it got word of the national suspension.
"We identified proactively a number of housing options for each of those young men that were involved," he said. "We wouldn't let them be homeless."
But Bloom said that since the suspensions came so close to the school year, no good housing options remained. He said that many of the available houses suggested by the university were in areas of the campus that Bloom said were unsafe.
Fein, who lived in the house for two years, shared a similar opinion.
"Them closing the house is very unfortunate," he said. "The issue is that the housing that they suggested was – in our eyes – inadequate for our basic needs. For our fraternity at least we want to be located in central campus."
Fein added all 43 members have since found a place to live through their own efforts. The house will remain vacant for now and will undergo renovations to meet OSU codes and standards.
Bloom said that many fraternities and sororities on campus have reached out to him and offered their support.
"They all support us. A lot of Greek chapters are getting in trouble for little things. Ours was the breaking point for a lot of them," he said.
Isaacs said that once the suspensions expire, the chapter can petition to be reinstated on campus. He added the university will work with them closely to bring them back to campus.
"What we're most interested in as a university is for them to return as a strong chapter that follows the rules," he said. "We will work with the chapter and the national organization to facilitate ways to bring them back better and stronger."
Although the chapter is not currently recognized by the university, Fein said he and his fraternity brothers will continue to stick together.
"This year we're going to be working on how to stay together," he said. "We're going to try to stay connected. The fraternity creates a bond between everyone."