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Fraternity To Close At IWU After Suspension For Hazing

Eric Stock
The Sigma Chi fraternity chapter at Illinois Wesleyan University is closed, following a hazing incident in April in which a student was injured.
Updated: May 19, 2021 at 5:33 PM CDT
WGLT updated this story to include Sigma Chi's response to the suspension.

A fraternity at Illinois Wesleyan University is closing after the university leveled a three-year suspension of the chapter for a hazing incident that injured a student last month.

IWU issued a statement Wednesday to the campus community stating its All-University Judicial Committee investigated the April incident involving the Sigma Chi fraternity.

The closing is effective immediately.

One student was badly bruised and cut on his forehead. The student returned to classes shortly after the incident.

“Anytime you have personal injury as we did in this case, it’s a wake-up call to our community. We are going to take it seriously and be proactive,” said IWU Dean of Students Karla Carney-Hall. “I think we were able to hold folks accountable to our hazing policy now and I hope that with some additional clarity, we can make it even easier for students to understand the university’s position and the expectations of conduct.”

The fraternity had suspended all operations on the IWU campus since the start of the investigation into the incident and said it considers closing the chapter a final option to resolve “member accountability issues.”

“In this instance… our members’ actions and the severity of the circumstances made our decision for us,” said Sigma Chi international president Steve Schuyler. “The Sigma Chi International Fraternity has a zero-tolerance policy for hazing. It is only by closing the chapter that we will be able to one day reestablish an environment at Illinois Wesleyan University that supports its students and our future members.”

Schuyler added Sigma Chi hopes to return to IWU in the future, but added it won’t seek to return sooner than 2025.

IWU president Georgia Nugent and Carney-Hall said in a joint statement with Sigma Chi, the university plans to conduct a “systemic review of our campus climate.” That would include a review of existing hazing policies and expanded education and awareness.

“Through these sanctions, we hope to address a serious safety concern regarding hazing and allow future leaders to re-establish a chapter with values consistent with university and fraternity values,” the statement said.

IWU said three students were involved in the hazing, according to an investigation by the university and Sigma Chi International, but the university said it won’t release whether they will be disciplined.

The university had said during the suspension, undergraduate students cannot gather for meetings or activities as a fraternity, display and fraternity branding or maintain a social media presence as a fraternity.

Men who live at the Sigma Chi house will be reassigned to other housing on campus, the university said. The house may be opened for other student housing.

Carney-Hall said after students spent much of the last year in social isolation, the university is preparing for students to be more unrestrained when they return to campus in the fall

“We haven’t seen the high-risk behaviors around things like alcohol or other kinds of activities. We do expect a bit of a boomerang effect from this year and that’s part of the conversation we are having on campus now,” she said.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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