COLUMBIA, Mo. - In an "extreme" decision, the University of Missouri banned the Sigma Pi fraternity from ever returning as a student organization.
The letter comes after an ABC 17 News records request, as part of its investigation into the Greek system, questioning how effective the school's system of discipline was in holding groups responsible.
MU originally withdrew Sigma Pi's recognition in May 2016 for a decade after numerous violations as part of its induction of new members, including hazing and providing minors alcohol. The fraternity appealed, and the school offered a five-year withdrawal of recognition in June, with the option to come back in four years if it worked with the Office of Greek Life in that time.
According to an October 3 email from Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs, students continued to live in the Sigma Pi house at the corner of Providence and Burnam, and "identifying themselves as members of the Sigma Pi fraternity.
"These actions violate the implicit trust of my June 13, 2016 correspondence wherein I agreed to reduce the original sanction significantly," Scroggs wrote.
Sigma Pi executive director Jason Walker tells ABC 17 News that its MU chapter still has an active charter, meaning men can still live in the house.
"We regret the stance that the University of Missouri has taken toward the students who choose to freely associate with any organization that benefits the campus as the members of Sigma Pi do," Walker said in an email.
The investigation began on March 18, when two students carried another into Laws Residence Hall. Joshua Brown, the hall coordinator for nearby Lathrop, wrote one of the students said the unconscious person had taken PCP. MUPD officers later found the student in the emergency room with dark bruises to his buttocks, apologizing for what happened and not wanting Sigma Pi to get in trouble.
Sigma Pi, which was already on probation for an earlier alcohol incident that semester, put the chapter on suspension the next day, as details emerged of what happened that night. Notes summarizing the events show it was part of "Pledge Dad Night," where new members were ordered to complete a "scavenger hunt" of random items, then learned who would be their pledge "father," or an active member closely tied to them throughout their time in school. Pledge fathers also introduced the "family drink," such as beer or hard liquor.
The new members were then told to hide "paddles" the active members gave them throughout the house. If the person's pledge father found it, they were allowed to paddle their pledge son.
After the Office of Student Conduct's decade-long withdrawal punishment for hazing, several members sent affidavits claiming they never felt forced to take part. Scroggs eventually reduced it to five years, and forbid Sigma Pi from trying to re-organize until the Fall 2020 semester, while working with Greek Life.
Scroggs got involved again after some members of the Student Conduct Committee asked about Sigma Pi, noticing letters still fixed to their home. Facebook posts from Scott Evans, the chapter's advisor, came in the open records request, and included an August 20 post that said in part, "Just finished initiating 19 young men to Sigma Pi Fraternity, installing our new officers and meeting with new [executive committee] to prepare for this year."
Scroggs' letter did not specify if that post lead her to her decision to ban Sigma Pi from returning.