News Tidbits 10/11/12: Kappa Sigma Reopens its Doors

11 10 2012

Even though I’m old and way out of touch from Greek Life (apart from the overly sentimental newsletter I get each semester from my fraternal alma mater), I’m sharing this because it happened my last semester at Cornell. From the Cornell Daily Sun:

After being shut down for more than two years, the Cornell chapter of the Kappa Sigma fraternity was recently reinstated on campus.

According to Brett Musco ’13, the fraternity president, Kappa Sigma lost its charter from its national chapter in Spring 2010 after violating sanctions that the chapter imposed on them.

A year and a half before it was shut down, the Cornell chapter of Kappa Sigma was found in violation of its national organization’s “risk management policy” and told that it could no longer host events with alcohol, Associate Dean of Students for Fraternity and Sorority Affairs Travis Apgar told The Sun in May 2010.    The fraternity was also required to have any events approved by a regional manager from the national organization, according to Apgar.

When it was discovered that the fraternity hosted an unregistered party with alcohol, the chapter was shut down by the national organization for breaking Kappa Sigma sanctions.

The fraternity house, a property on 600 University Ave., is owned by Cornell and was renovated and turned into student housing by the University for the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 academic years. However, it was agreed that if Kappa Sigma were ever reinstated on campus, fraternity members could occupy the building again, Musco said.

As part of the process of rebuilding the chapter, Kappa Sigma brothers petitioned for members of the classes of 2012 and 2013 –– who had been expelled from the fraternity –– to be reinstated as brothers.

“Once we got those core guys from those two years reinstated, we could become an interest group,” Musco said. “And then, from an interest group you become a colony, and we became a colony [in] July of 2011.”

According to Musco, while the chapter was not recognized by the IFC or the University, it still participated in rush events and informed potential members of their status.

Though it was not a chapter at the time, the Kappa Sigma colony –– or probationary body of brothers –– participated in formal rush in 2012, according to Musco.

After Rush Week, the members had to follow certain guidelines and submit a petition to regain its status as a chapter.

“A lot came down to learning from the mistakes that the older guys had made and the former chapter had made,” Musco said. “And a lot came down to recruitment and getting new guys to carry the fraternity.”

As a result of Rush Week, the majority of the fraternity’s membership comes from the Class of 2015, Musco said. Kappa Sigma will be participating in Rush Week in January 2013, he added.


So, this is an unusual case in the world of GLOs. The chapter was shut down by their national and lost recognition from Cornell. But, they were allowed to recolonize and petition for reinstatement. They also regained their house, because their agreement with Cornell allows them to move back in once they are reinstated (I like to imagine a closet in the dorm where they hid all the lettering and regalia). Now from here, it could go two ways – they fade into obscurity and failure a la Theta Chi in the early 2000s, or they build themselves back up and move on, like Psi Upsilon in 1979.

Speaking personally, about two-thirds of the people I’ve stayed in close contact with post-undergrad have been my old fraternity brothers. And I know that when something happens to the chapter that we don’t like, for instance a poor rush, we try and write it off as “it’s their house to run now”, but it still casts a bittersweet pall over our memories. So from an alumni perspective, I’m glad for their graduated brethren, and I wish them the best.

News Tidbits 9/8/10: The Kappa Sig Dorm

9 09 2010

Being interested in both the Greek System and in the university’s physical facilities, an article that details how Kappa Sigma’s house has been transformed into a small dorm is bound to catch my attention. Evwn better, it’s a very well-detailed article, and I found myself pleasantly surprised with the quality of work.

I guess being an alum just reminds me of how unaware of news I am now, as this was the first time I heard anything about this renovation and reopening. The reuse of the building as a dorm is actually the less surprising part. 112 Edgemoor and 14 South are former Greek houses that operate now as small dorms (Triangle, which closed in 1985, occupied 112 Edgemoor up to 1985 and Kappa Alpha lived in 14 South from 1957-1990). Cornell purchased the Kappa Sigma facility as part of the Cornell University Residential Plan of 1966. Reasonably, when Cornell owns a facility (as it does with at least 15 Greek houses, of which all but one (722 University Ave.) are fully occupied), it’s financially much more preferable to maintain the space as a working residential facility. This goes for private houses as well — the article mentions Pike is being rented out as a boarding house. This policy also has bearing on active chapters; boarding which is a popular option with residential fraternities with low membership numbers as a way to maintain the financial viability of a house. Interestingly enough, the university used Craigslist to advertise the spaces, and managed to fill all but one.

The article reports that the estimate for maintaining an empty fraternity house runs about $80,000 to $90,000 in a given year. The extremely general description for the expenditures is maitenence. More specifically, heating (pipes may burst in the winter if the facility isn’t adequately heated), insurance, security for a vacant facility, interior and exterior upkeep, and other utilities (which cost money to even have access to let alone use) come to mind.

I’m rather surprised at Cornell’s investment in renovating the facility. I dunno how much work had to be done, but if the Kappa Sigma alumni have already started the rechartering process, then it’s likely the university won’t be filling the facility for more than two years.  But, I don’t know much about the maitenence of university-owned Greek houses (my fraternal alma mater was privately owned by an alumni board). It just struck me as curious.