After four years of being banned from campus, Kappa Sigma Fraternity is returning to the University of Miami just in time to celebrate its 75th year anniversary on campus.
According to a report published by The Miami Hurricane in February 2009, Kappa Sigma was punished by its international office due to “social and alcohol violations contrary to their codes of conduct.”
Though the fraternity will be unable to participate in rush, which ends on Feb. 3, professional recruiters will be on campus starting Feb. 11 to find student leaders who are interested in joining the fraternity.
The fraternity petitioned to return to UM last fall and after deliberation by the Interfraternity Council (IFC), it was approved.
Brenden Kollar, the president of IFC, said that having Kappa Sigma back on campus would be beneficial to the university.
“Being a fraternity for 75 years is a really big deal,” he said. “It will be a nice thing for the university to have.”
Though the fraternity is making its way back to campus, they will be facing two challenges – they will not be able to have a suite because the Panhellenic Building is currently full, and they will not be able to rent a house because other fraternities are currently occupying the space.
Tony Lake, the associate dean of students and director of judicial affairs, said that Kappa Sigma will be allowed to resume all fraternity activities. However, space limitations will prevent the fraternity from having an individual house or suite.
“They are coming back as a legitimate fraternity,” he said.
When Kappa Sigma was removed from campus, the university did not partake in the decision.
Before the Kappa Sigma’s UM chapter was shut down by its international office in 2009, the fraternity had history on campus. In 2001, Chad Meredith, a Kappa Sigma pledge, went swimming in Lake Osceola with two of his fraternity brothers and drowned in seven feet of water.
Although some people believe that Kappa Sigma was punished for hazing, that is a misconception. According to a report published by The Miami Hurricane in February 2004, Miami-Dade police ruled out hazing two days after the incident.
Steven Priepke, assistant dean of students, was Meredith’s RA at the time and remembers the incident.
“It was horrific,” he said.
Kappa Sigma was questioned and investigated, but the chapter was never penalized for Meredith’s death. Instead, Meredith’s parents sued the two fraternity officers. The two were later found guilty and were each ordered to pay $6.3 million to Chad’s parents for his wrongful death.
The drowning, which happened more than 12 years ago, had nothing to do with the chapter’s previous punishment. Lake said that it “doesn’t make sense” to look into the past because the chapter will not consist of the same people.
“Students are very thorough about their decisions,” he said. “They’ve looked into all of these fraternities and sororities, and if they were worried, they wouldn’t join.”
Kappa Sigma has been an international fraternity since 1869 and its values stand on four pillars: fellowship, leadership, scholarship and service.
Koller said the national recruiters will be looking for student leaders on campus that will get the chapter on a “good basis.” He added that the incident shouldn’t discourage students from joining and “having that stigma is kind of idiotic.”
“The values of the fraternity and what they stand for are strong,” Priepke said. “Students who will be joining the chapter are a special brand of entrepreneurs. They want to build something new. They don’t really look for anything pre-existing.”