Kappa Sigma aims to overcome bad blood

Features, Loyola Marymount University, News, The Los Angeles Loyolan

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: Kappa Sigma aims to overcome bad blood – Los Angeles Loyolan.

The latest phase of Kappa Sigma’s ongoing attempt to gain recognition from LMU came to a close this month. Though the group was one of the 12 parties who petitioned for the opportunity to present on campus as part of LMU’s search for two new fraternties, Kappa Sigma was not one of the six finalists.

“Kappa Sigma was considered in this process. They just didn’t make [the] cut this year,” said Assistant Director of Student Leadership and Development and Greek Adviser Dan Faill. Members and alumni of the fraternity were frustrated and disappointed at the news

“The obvious choice would have been to allow us to come on campus,” said junior political science major Austin Wermers, the current president of Kappa Sigma at LMU. “We’re already established, we’re a large group of guys, but for some reason, LMU doesn’t even give us the chance past letting our headquarters turn a packet in.”

Comments on the online version of Loyolan Asst. News Editor Casey Kidwell’s April 19 article “University to add two new fraternities” posted by former Kappa Sigma presidents alumnus Ryan Monahan (’10) and senior political science major Ryan Burbank stated that the motivating factor behind not allowing Kappa Sigma on campus, as told to members in the past, was a lack of resources on campus. Now that the University is looking to expand, according to Wermers, Kappa Sigma members are left wondering why they aren’t being considered.

According to Wermers, Kappa Sigma’s headquarters sent the packet required of all fraternities seeking the chance to be part of the search process in on time, but the group was not selected to present themselves on campus.

“There was never a promise made, nor was there the expectation of us jumping to the top of the list,” Monahan said. “We had been given the indication … that if we tried to adhere to requests made by [Faill], we would be given a fair opportunity, which … I don’t believe occurred.”

“None of our groups received preferential treatment,” Faill said.

Kappa Sigma’s failure to progress to the next level of consideration is the latest in a string of events that have kept the fraternity off LMU’s campus – at least officially. Since being colonized in 2007 by Kappa Sigma’s national headquarters, the group has battled University officials over their lack of recognition.

“The truth is, we had guys in the beginning of our chapter that really ruffled the feathers of the University,” Wermers said.

“I think the school was unhappy with the way the chapter was founded initially, whether that is justified or not,” Monahan said. “And because of this, there have been many times that personal feelings have gotten in the way of doing what would be best for the school and its students.”

Faill alluded to the same problems during the fraternity’s inception. According to Faill, the problems date to before he arrived on campus and began work as the Greek adviser. The problems center around not violating the size cap, on which the Greek Council had previously decided, according to Faill.

“The initial comment was – from the students, mind you – that we should hold off on any more new groups until we find out what our ideal size is,” Faill said. “Rather than patiently waiting, the national organization said, ‘Well, we’re just going to go ahead and colonize you group of 40ish guys and put you through our new member process.’ So in terms of a working relationship, as a national organization to go against University wishes and, really, student body wishes, is not the best way to build a good, collaborative rapport.”

After initial tensions, including one at 2008 Delta Gamma Anchor Splash where a member got into what senior studio arts major and former president of Kappa Sigma Stephen Smith called a “hostile” disagreement with Faill, recent presidents have made the effort to improve relations with the school.

“We did better [with our relationship with the University], but it ended up fizzling out a little bit,” said Smith,. “We did a decent job of getting back to where we were, but we didn’t get much further.”

Continued tensions surfaced at the 2010 Anchor Splash synchronized swimming competition, where, according to Smith, members of Kappa Sigma were prevented from competing in the event under the registered name of Kappa Sigma and were required to re-enter with a different team name.

In order to conform to the University’s standing policies, Kappa Sigma ceased pledging first-semester freshmen.

“I had a conversation with one of their chapter advisers … probably three years ago, where he said, ‘Well, we want them to take first-semester freshmen … [but] why would a fraternity that’s … registered on the campus be an advocate for you when you’re breaking the rules?” Faill said. “That conversation was brought up in the expansion process.”

The expansion process was considered by members of Kappa Sigma to be a new opportunity for recognition. “It’s really disappointing on our end, trying to follow the school rules … only for the University to send, essentially, a one-sentence letter saying, ‘You didn’t make the cut,’” Wermers said.

Speaking about the letter he sent to the fraternities not chosen to move on, Faill said, “Of the six not chosen, five have already called me … to ask what they could improve upon. … Kappa Sigma is the only one that did not reach out.”

According to Greek Council President and junior marketing major Joe Dzida, the idea of Kappa Sigma becoming part of the University one day is possible. “I see absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t be considered [in the future] … but they also need to show that they deserve it,” he said. “We just want to make sure that if there are new organizations coming onto campus that they reflect well on the campus.”

Echoing that sentiment while speaking about the decision of which six groups would move on in the expansion process, Faill said that the expansion committee, “which students sat on, … said they wanted groups that would respect LMU’s wishes and the policies and procedures already in place.”

For now, Kappa Sigma members are content with their position, if disappointed with the lack of finality.

“I feel like a lot of people in our chapter are okay with where we’re at,” Smith said. “But we do want a solid answer.”

Monahan said of official status, “It is … the end goal. It always has been, and … it always will be.”

“I feel like a lot of it is, ‘Oh, you guys messed up doing this,’ … and it’s frustrating,” Smith said. “We can’t change the past. We can just try to better the future, and I think that’s what we’re trying to do.”

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