With the on-going investigation into the details of what took place at the now-defunct UVM chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp), the welcomed winter break offered little reprieve for former members of the fraternity.
University officials remain close-mouthed about the details of their continued investigation into SigEp more than a month after a survey circulated among some fraternity members asking if they could rape someone, who would it be.
Fed Up Vermont, a group that promotes women’s social and economic equality and created an online petition to disband SigEp last December, is furthering their stand against rape culture.
The group will conduct a protest, speak-out and teach-in against sexism and rape culture on Jan. 21 at noon on the steps of Bailey-Howe Library, according to Fed Up Vermont’s Facebook page.
“Now is the time to tear down rape culture at UVM,” the Facebook page stated.
As for the former members of Sigma Phi Epsilon, no formal disciplinary action has been brought against the students by the University, nor have formal charges been brought by the Burlington Police Department (BPD), police officials said.
The BPD said that they would only be involved if UVM’s investigation determines that a crime was committed.
Once the University completes its internal investigation, expected to conclude in the coming weeks, officials will weigh the severity of the facts and impose sanctions as appropriate, said Annie Stevens, vice president for student and campus life.
Should the University find “policy violations,” individual or group disciplinary action may be forthcoming, Stevens said.
Mandated group sanctions by the University could be made public, but the University is held to strict confidentiality laws aimed at protecting individual students’ records, she said.
Immediately affecting the former members, however, is housing for the spring semester.
The University will work with the approximately 20 members who resided in the now-vacant fraternity house on Main Street and assist them in securing both on- and off-campus housing, Stevens said.
The national SigEp organization, which closed the UVM chapter on Dec. 16, has continued to work with the University, emphasizing issues of respect for self and others, SigEp officials said.
The organization plans to retain ownership of the fraternity house in Burlington, hoping to reinstate the fraternity no sooner than four years from now, said Brian Warren, executive director of the national fraternity.
“The University investigation is ongoing,” he said. “We did our best to be as open and communicative as we could.”
Asked if the University would be receptive to re-recognizing the fraternity charter in the future, Stevens was hesitant to say definitively.
“We haven’t made any determinations about the future of the chapter at this point,” Stevens said. “It’s still too early to begin that conversation.”