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Newsletter > September 2008 > "LOSS OF CHARTER LEADS TO LITIGATION"
LOSS OF CHARTER LEADS TO LITIGATION
Tim Burke, Manley Burke, email@example.com
The Sigma Sigma Sigma Chapter at Missouri State had been on campus there since 1945. In recent years, the Chapter had some problems, including a reported seven criminal reports from the House since October 2006, three of which were liquor violations. In the fall of 2007, the National Headquarters learned that in spite of past education, warnings and discipline, the Chapter engaged in a series of improper actions with its incoming new members: blindfolding them and taking them to a cemetery, requiring them to get a job application from a strip club, taking blindfolded women into a cave, to a basement, and providing alcohol to minors. When that misconduct was confirmed, National Sigma Sigma Sigma revoked the Chapter’s Charter.
Members of the sorority argued in the press that they had been treated unfairly. One member, arguing that their conduct wasn’t so bad, said “it wasn’t like they had to jump off a cliff … it was all in good clean fun.” She went on to argue that they didn’t consider what they did hazing because “no one complained.” She also said “in our eyes, we tried to keep everything as clean as possible. We don’t drink in the house or do anything in the house. All Greeks drink when underage. We never did it irresponsibly.”
This spring, nine members of the Chapter who were initiated shortly before the Charter was revoked filed suit1 against Sigma Sigma Sigma, the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), Missouri State University and others. The suit, currently in its very early stages, claims that the new members had not been properly advised of the Chapter’s past misconduct and the possibility that the Chapter could be stripped of its Charter, leaving them with no membership in a Greek social organization. They say that was particularly damaging since having been initiated in Sigma Sigma Sigma, they could not then join a different women’s Greek social organization. The suit alleges that local and National Sigma Sigma Sigma, NPC, and Missouri State University misrepresented and concealed facts and negligently supervised the Chapter. The plaintiffs seek monetary damages because of dues and fees paid and because of the loss of the “opportunity to experience and enjoy the sorority experience during college and beyond.”
At this writing, plaintiffs have filed their Second Amended Complaint, discovery is beginning and motions seeking dismissal or summary judgment of the case are anticipated.
1 Walker, et al. v. Sigma Sigma Sigma, Inc., et al., Circuit Court of Greene County Missouri, Case No. 0831-CV06378.