September 19, 2019 | 47° F

Fraternity shut down after underage drinking incident

Photo by Edwin Gano |

Sigma Phi Epsilon has been mandated into suspension by the University after a 20-year-old student and fraternity member was hospitalized for drinking into excess in a recent incident. 

Rutgers University's chapter of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity has been shut down after an intoxicated 20-year-old fraternity member was hospitalized back in November, NJ Advance Media reported.

Following the underage drinking incident, the University suspended the fraternity and began deciding the fate of the chapter in a campus disciplinary review.

But over the weekend, Sigma Phi Epsilon’s national headquarters notified University officials that the chapter would be suspended with no plans to reinstate it, said E.J. Miranda, a Rutgers spokesman. The disciplinary review is complete and the fraternity will not be recognized by Rutgers University.

Fraternity and sorority chapters affiliated with Rutgers accept the rights and responsibilities of membership in the University’s academic and social community, Miranda said.

"(Chapters) are expected to maintain the standards of behavior set by the Code of Student Conduct,” Miranda told NJ Advance Media.

Rob Jepson, senior communication manager for Sigma Phi Epsilon’s national headquarters, told NJ Advance Media that the underage alcohol incident involved a fraternity member who was drinking in the house and then taken to the hospital due to his “intoxicated state.”

The incident was the cause of the chapter’s suspension, Sigma Phi Epsilon officials told NJ Advance Media. Both fraternity officials and Rutgers officials declined requests to identify the hospitalized student.

"SigEp takes health and safety violations extremely seriously, and we have indefinitely suspended operations of this chapter," Jepson said.

Sigma Phi Epsilon officials said any individual member that violates university policies will face sanctions, including expulsion, from the fraternity, and that any chapter that threats student safety will be shut down.

Still, the future of the Sigma Phi Epsilon house on College Avenue is unknown.

The local Zeta Psi alumni association will need to decide whether to sell the property or rent it to another organization, M. David Hunter, executive director of Zeta Psi's national headquarters in New York, told NJ Advance Media.

Sigma Phi Epsilon's suspension is not the first time this year that Greek organizations at Rutgers have faced disciplinary action. In total, six fraternities and one sorority at the University are currently under review for alleged alcohol violations, Miranda told NJ Advance Media.

Earlier in the fall semester, 19-year-old Rutgers student Caitlyn Kovacs died of alcohol poisoning after a party at the Delta Kappa Epsilon house where she was taken to a hospital at 3 a.m. by friends. 

Delta Kappa Epsilon has been suspended and is facing a University disciplinary review, while Rutgers' Omega Phi Beta sorority had its new member program suspended pending a review, Miranda told NJ Advance Media.

The five other Rutgers fraternities undergoing disciplinary reviews have also been accused of defying the University's alcohol policy.

Avalon Zoppo is a Rutgers Business School first-year student majoring in pre-business. She is an Associate News Editor at The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @avalonzoppo for more stories.

Avalon Zoppo

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