Thursday, October 23, 2014
Last updated: 1 hour ago

UBC Kappa Sigma gets its charter back, but loses most of its members

Illustration Kim Pringle/The Ubyssey

Illustration Kim Pringle/The Ubyssey

UBC’s Kappa Sigma chapter is back in action, but they’ve kicked out almost three quarters of their members.

On Feb. 2, the local branch of the international fraternity was successful in overturning a decision that had them shut down for code of conduct violations since Oct. 8. As part of the appeal, remaining members and alumni presented a plan to the national office to get their chapter in line. That plan included cutting the membership of the fraternity down from almost 100 members to 20.

UBC chapter president Eddie Spitz said two or three alumni of the UBC chapter conducted personal interviews to choose who kept their membership. He said fewer than 10 of the almost 80 now-ousted members chose to go of their own accord, and the rest were kicked out involuntarily. Ex-members are not eligible to join a different fraternity.

“We decided on who would be able to contribute more to the chapter and that’s who we decided to choose,” said Spitz.

Mic Wilson, executive director of the international Kappa Sigma organization, confirmed that the chapter was left with just over 20 active members, but wouldn’t discuss who was kicked out – or why.

The chapter chose who would keep their membership before launching their appeal to Kappa Sigma international in North Carolina last weekend. The appeal included a pledge for the chapter to stay alcohol-free for a year. Each member of the chapter will also complete at least 10 hours of community service.

Spitz said the alumni choose who would stay in the fraternity, but the international has the final say. He said he wouldn’t be able to confirm who remains in the chapter until the end of this week. But he said he was confident the right people would stay on with the fraternity.

Spitz said there are currently around 25 people staying in the fraternity’s chapter house, including five uninitiated pledges. None of those currently living in the house are former members. The house has at least 35 beds.

Spitz said he doesn’t think anyone currently living in the house lost their membership in the chapter fraternity. However, he said, as far as he knows, some of the residents could still potentially be kicked out of the frat. Fraternity membership is not required to live in Kappa Sigma’s Wesbrook Mall house, which is leased and managed by the fraternity’s local alumni organization, although members-only activities will now resume in some of its rooms.

“That’s another detail we’re going to have to figure out. Our landlord’s dealing with that issue,” said Spitz. “Within a week I’ll be able to know the actual effects of this.”

Wilson said the chapter committed a number of conduct violations over the past year; however, he wouldn’t provide details. He said the final straw that caused them to revoke the charter occurred when the chapter hosted a party with a keg of beer at their campus fraternity house.

He said the fraternity rules prohibit any use of bulk alcohol containers, like kegs.

“Really, the problems with the chapter have really just occurred in the last year. They were way off of what they had traditionally shown us as a chapter,” said Wilson.

Spitz confirmed that the chapter, which has existed at UBC since 1941, was shut down after hosting a keg party near the end of last September. He said the national office found out about the keg through posts on Twitter. Spitz admitted the chapter had other alcohol-related infractions, but wouldn’t provide details.

Wilson said there are no penalties for the few who remain members of the fraternity, but those members will have to adhere to strict rules to put them in line with other chapters of Kappa Sigma. The requirements include everything from doing community service to meeting certain academic standards.

“These men are learning the values of the fraternity all over again. They lost their way when they had the violations. We’re saying, hey, return to where you once were,” said Wilson.

The chapter was unable to host events like pledge initiation or its annual semi-formal since it shut down last October.

“We cancelled all events.… We didn’t lose any money. But we didn’t end up having events that we were planning on doing,” said Spitz.

UBC Kappa Sigma is well-known for hosting big parties like its Halloween-themed house party, Bora-Bora and Boatracer, an event that includes a drinking competition with other fraternities and sororities.

Flickr photos show Kappa Sigma brothers playing beer league football in the snow in 2010. Other Flickr photos show students wearing shirts that say “UBC Drinking” on the front and sport the chapter’s letters on the back. A tweet from Kappa Sigma’s account in September 2010 commemorates “Liverbreaker,” a “disorientation” held at the same time as UBC’s Imagine Day orientation. All of these will go by the wayside during the chapter’s year of sobriety.

Kappa Sigma’s multiple UBC REC teams will also take a hit. Spitz estimated that each one of the chapter’s multiple REC teams will lose around three to four players.

Kappa Sigma has a reputation for recruiting a large number of pledges, some say to the detriment of the chapter. Spitz said the chapter will hold a new rush in the next few weeks to fill in its missing ranks. He hopes to gain around 30 new members, bringing the total membership up to 50.

Wilson said he is confident that the chapter will be able to restore its reputation.

“It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight,… but I think in the next maybe eight months to a year, you’re going to see that this chapter has accomplished everything that they need to accomplish.”