The Sigma Alpha Mu chapter at Washington University has met a fate far, far worse than double-secret probation: It's been banished from the university altogether. It should be noted that this is not the first time this has happened.
The fraternity's national board announced last week that it had voted to suspend the charter and disband the Wash. U. chapter, effective immediately. The brothers have until August 6 to leave campus.
Both the fraternity's national board and the university remain tight-lipped about the immediate cause (or causes) of the expulsion. In a statement, Sigma Alpha Mu cited "violations of its Risk Management policy," including "various hazing and drug violations." This could be a reference to a 2008 drug bust that caused the fraternity to lose its house on the university's Upper Fraternity Row, but Lee Manders, the fraternity's national director, declined to comment further.
The university, meanwhile, issued its own statement:
Effective immediately, the Phi Chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity is not a recognized fraternity at Washington University in St. Louis. This decision is based upon significant violations of University policies, which came to light as part of an ongoing investigation by the Washington University Police Department. In addition, the National Fraternity of Sigma Alpha Mu has disbanded the chapter. The university will make no further comment on this ongoing investigation until it is complete and has been turned over to and reviewed by the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's office.
This is not the first time SAM has been kicked out of Wash. U.: The chapter was suspended by the national board in 1999, but allowed to return in 2002. (The frat's sins, as reported at the time by Student Life, the student paper, included "poor leadership, financial woes, troubling behavior and alcohol abuse, culminating in accusations of hazing stemming from SAM's spring pledge events." In addition, over the course of the previous three years, the university administration had to intervene in frat activities "multiple times.")
The national board said in its statement that it had imposed "advanced educational programming, and progressive discipline." Could it have gone something like this?
We'll update this post if (or when) we get any more information.
Note: Yes, Animal House was based, in part, on co-writer Harold Ramis's experiences as an undergrad at Wash. U. But let it be known that Ramis was a brother of Zeta Beta Tau, not Sigma Alpha Mu. The differences are apparently huge -- even though ZBT's charter was also suspended (for shady recruiting practices) and it's also not allowed to have a house on campus.