Fraternity closed indefinitely, former members speak out

After a controversial survey circulated by Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp) surfaced, the National Fraternity decided to close its chapter at the University indefinitely on Dec. 16.  The survey raised the question of who would you want to rape if you could, an article from the Burlington Free Press stated.  An email sent to the UVM community from President John Bramley and Provost Jane Knodell stated that the University supported the decision of the national fraternity. “From the beginning of this unfortunate situation, the national representatives of Sigma Phi Epsilon have been thorough, respectful, and very serious in investigating this matter, reaching this conclusion after having weighed the totality of the facts and information available to them,” the email stated. The email went on to say that although the fraternity has been shut down, UVM will continue to investigate the events surrounding the survey. Bramley’s email also addressed issues concerning sexual violence.   “Sexual violence and rape culture are gravely serious issues that demand attention and action,” the email stated. Former SigEp members said that the fraternity as a whole didn’t have much to do with the survey, and that it was the actions of one person that led to this incident. “One individual was responsible for coming up with the appalling question,” former SigEp member Wes Lewis said.  “It was never answered because who it was asked to refused to answer it and the told the new member to change the question immediately.” Lewis also said that it was series of questions between individuals rather than a survey.  Members of the fraternity are still unsure of who authored the question, he said. Other former fraternity members said that they were surprised at how quickly the situation escalated. “I feel like this whole entire thing came out of nowhere,” former SigEp member K.C. Charles said. “It was a fraternity against the world pretty much during the worst time of the semester.” Charles also said that it’s incredibly hard to be a fraternity nowadays with the stigmas of the past attached and that they are just judged before people get to know them. Though some former members may be feeling upset about the decision to close Sigma Phi Epsilon’s chapter at UVM, Lewis said it’s a decision that must be acknowledged. “Our national organization chose to shut us down,” he said. “That is something they believed would benefit SigEp as a whole so we need to accept that.” Though the fraternity is no longer in operation, Lewis said that the brothers will always have the bonds of friendship that were developed at Sigma Phi Epsilon.