Sigma Chi’s international office sent out a letter of support for Morgantown’s Mu Mu chapter of Sigma Chi Thursday night and condemned the University for its treatment of the fraternity over the last couple years.
More than 1,400 words, the statement was addressed to “[b]rothers, friends and supporters of Sigma Chi” and listed several reasons for the international office’s dissatisfaction with WVU. It is also the first time Sigma Chi’s international office has issued a public statement in support for its WVU chapter; the last of the five disassociated fraternities to do so.
“I am dismayed at West Virginia University (WVU) President Gordon Gee’s decision to publicly besmirch the fraternal organizations that decided to end their affiliation with the university over the past several weeks,” W. Thomas Geddings Jr., 70th Grand Consul of the international office, wrote in the release.
Geddings wrote Sigma Chi has “no interest in engaging in the same mudslinging tactics that President Gee has chosen.”
The University was not immediately available for comment Friday morning.
The letter said in 2016, Sigma Chi’s international office almost pulled its support of its WVU chapter due to a particular, unnamed conduct incident, but “administrators from WVU implored Sigma Chi to keep its chapter open because their fraternity community needed leadership and Sigma Chi was well-positioned to fill that role.”
Geddings wrote the Mu Mu chapter made “a remarkable turnaround” by the Fall of 2017 in terms of academic standards. WVU noted in a Sept. 27 letter to the chapter that it had a cumulative 3.14 GPA that semester, though also said in the Spring of 2018, new members had an average 2.24 GPA and the chapter was at a 2.93.
In the Spring of 2018, the University placed a moratorium on all fraternity activity due to behavioral issues and created the Reaching the Summit initiative.
The letter said Reaching the Summit was well-intentioned, but called it restrictive and ineffective.
The letter said the Mu Mu chapter was disciplined by the University again for the 2016 conduct incident, calling it “[d]ouble jeopardy at its finest” and argues that the current chapter members had little do with the incident.
Geddings wrote after the Mu Mu chapter handed its disassociation letter to WVU on Aug. 12, the international office did not initially support the chapter’s move and tried to work with the University, but talks ultimately fell flat.
“To our dismay, our efforts to establish a conciliatory conclusion ultimately led nowhere and we were placed in the unenviable position of deciding whether we would support either our chapter or a tone-deaf administration,” he wrote. “We are now determined to support our chapter with an even more enhanced investment in ensuring they have the highest quality fraternity experience.”
Geddings ended the statement saying the international office would like to once again have a partnership, not specifying if it would be independent or together.
“We truly hope that President Gee will cease his aggressive, damaging, misleading and defamatory rhetoric so that we can begin the process of repairing this once-productive partnership,” he wrote.
In a letter Gee penned to the WVU community announcing the decade-long ban of the five disassociated fraternities on Sept. 27, he slammed the organization’s national offices for putting students’ lives at risk.
“I believe these national organizations are more concerned about dollars than students’ lives,” Gee wrote. “As a proud member of a fraternity, I am personally saddened by the direction these organizations have taken.”
In a Sept. 27 WVU Today article, Matthew Richardson, director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, defended Reaching the Summit.
“With the exception of one fraternity that was suspended for three years (Phi Sigma Kappa), the measures we were taking were educational development such as attending an anti-hazing program,” Richardson said in the article. “They were not arduous or punitive.”