Series of incidents will put fraternities before university's judicial system

Friday, December 16, 2005

Two fraternities face review by the university's judicial system for their alleged involvement in two October incidents of theft and property damage.

The Southeast Missouri State University Judicial Affairs Office is investigating whether Pi Kappa Alpha endorsed the actions of three of its members charged with misdemeanor theft of a goat from the Sigma Chi property on North Frederick Street, said Trae Mitten, director of the office. The Sigma Chi fraternity is also being investigated for an alleged retaliation in which five of its members and four other individuals spray painted a room in the Pike Lodge on South Sprigg Street.

The university has jurisdiction over the conduct of its students and organizations on and off campus, Mitten said. Most of the time fraternities maintain healthy rivalries that stay on the playing field or at an event, he said. But in a few cases "rivalries cross the boundaries and become a crime, which is what happened with the theft and property damage," Mitten said. "It is an unhealthy rivalry."

The organizations and individual students face the same review process in which a preponderance of evidence is required to sanction penalties, Mitten said. Sanctions can include a warning, probation, suspension, a suspension with stricter requirements and expulsion.

Facing penalties

The most common penalties, Mitten said, are community service, restitution and restrictions on use of campus facilities.

Mitten declined to comment on whether individual students involved in the alleged crimes are being reviewed.

The first incident occurred on Oct. 21, when Sigma Chi members discovered that Sharon, their Alpine Nubian goat mascot, had disappeared from their property. The goat was later found at the La Croix Animal Hospital.

Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle charged one Pike member with misdemeanor trespassing and stealing and two members with misdemeanor stealing in connection with the incident.

On Oct. 23, Pike members found blue spray painted profanity and lewd drawings across the walls of their Pikes Only room in their lodge. Prosecutors charged five Sigma Chi members and four other students with misdemeanor trespassing and property damage. One of the nine was charged only with property damage.

The Judicial Affairs Office conducted its own investigations and turned findings over to the Cape Girardeau Police Department.

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