National organization closes former chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity at Penn State

Civil Suit Settled Against Penn State University

UNIVERSITY PARK — The Sigma Alpha Mu International Fraternity announced on Sept. 6 that it was revoking the charter for its Mu Lambda Chapter at Penn State following an investigation into health and safety concerns within the group, the university announced in a press release.

The International Fraternity’s investigation followed repeated reports by Penn State administrators of continuing behavioral issues at its former Penn State chapter house, the university said.

Penn State suspended recognition for Sigma Alpha Mu in April 2017, following multiple violations of University policy. But, the school says, the International Fraternity did not act at the time, allowing the former chapter to remain chartered and in operation. The University’s 2017 action prevented the organization from attending, organizing or participating in university-sanctioned activities and events, but the private organization otherwise continued to operate as a fraternity chapter with the support of its international parent organization, according to Penn State.

Sigma Alpha Mu’s former undergraduate members continue to occupy the chapter’s house in State College in violation of a State College borough ordinance that requires University recognition of a fraternity for a chapter to operate a house in the borough. That ordinance has been challenged in court, and the related legal proceedings continue, the university said.

Penn State said it supports the borough’s effort to sustain the ordinance.

Despite the loss of university recognition in 2017, the former Sigma Alpha Mu chapter’s activities continued to be monitored by Penn State to the extent possible. When Penn State recently learned about continuing behavioral issues at the chapter house that jeopardized the welfare of the community, it again alerted the International Fraternity, which has now acted to close the chapter, according to the university.

However, closure of the chapter by the international organization does not mean that the men in the chapter house no longer reside there. The building that has been used as the chapter house is privately owned, and the leases of the men occupying it remain in effect.

“Our foremost priority in these circumstances is the safety and well-being of our students,” said Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs at Penn State. “We continue to encourage and foster the positive aspects of the fraternity and sorority experience, while working to minimize the risks that membership or participation in these groups sometimes poses. But in cases such as this one, when a suspended chapter continues to operate without University recognition, it is nearly impossible for the University to have sufficient influence to discourage the risks present.”

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