Ole Miss Fraternity Closed After James Meredith Statue Incident
(Oxford, MS) The Ole Miss chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity will be permanently closed after a vote by the national board.
The chapter was suspended in late February after three members were suspected of putting a noose and a Georgia flag on the historic James Meredith statue.
Technically the statue was not vandalized and no charges have been pressed, but all three were removed from the fraternity.
Sigma Phi Epsilon said the closure was “not a result of any individual incident, but a response to newly discovered, ongoing behavior that includes incidents of hazing, underage drinking, alcohol abuse, and failure to comply with the university and fraternity’s codes of conduct.”
The fraternity did acknowledge that the incident involving the statue marked “the beginning of an intensified period of review.”
The identities of the students, other than they are from Georgia, have never been released.
The closure was announced by the Ole Miss officials. The statue incident was never mentioned.
“We are disappointed that a pattern of bad behavior and serious, inexcusable hazing occurred within the chapter,” UM Dean of Students Sparky Reardon said. “Periodic reports from and meetings with local alumni and national headquarters led us to believe that the chapter was improving.”
In February, Sigma Phi Epsilon CEO Brian Warren told us hazing did not appear to be involved.
“The fraternity was the first to find out, and they were the ones that brought the names forward,” said Warren. “I know the values when the fraternity is done right, when Sig Ep is done right. It is a very impressive thing. To see it like this, it’s hurtful.”
“We are surprised and extremely disappointed that these activities occurred, and we are committed to providing a safe, educational environment for all students,” said Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs.
The university and fraternity are working together to consider when Sigma Phi Epsilon might return to campus.