Nearly one year has passed since the Sigma Delta Tau sorority was placed on a two-year probation for violating University alcohol and anti-hazing policies during its new-member education program. SDT is also finishing up a one-year social probation, which prevents the sorority from holding or attending events in which alcohol is served. In February 2002, an investigation by the Office of Student Conduct found that several women "consumed excessive amounts of liquor" and that four were treated at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania following the incident. According to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, the sorority violated the University's Alcohol and Drug Policy, the Anti-Hazing Policy, the Code of Student Conduct and the policy on Recognition and Governance of Undergraduate Social Fraternities and Sororities. The sorority has nearly completed the sanctions required by both OFSA and OSC as it serves out its probation. OFSA Associate Director of Programming Lea Shafer would not comment on the status of SDT's probation due to OFSA policy. According to SDT President Gabrielle Arnay, the chapter has participated in a series of community service activities, such as serving food to individuals and families with HIV and AIDS in the Metropolitan AIDS Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance, conducting a resume workshop for Penn students, donating money to Prevent Child Abuse America and most recently hosting the "SDT prevents STDs" event. SDT has also completed extensive alcohol awareness training and is in constant communication with alumni advisers who are actively involved in monitoring the sorority. The group also files frequent updates with OFSA and the Fraternity Sorority Advisory Board -- Arnay is hopeful that FSAB will agree that SDT has successfully completed its one-year social probation. "I would say that there comes a point where everyone needs to stand back and re-evaluate what they stand for, and although it's rather unfortunate that it had to happen in a somewhat negative light, SDT and the sorority system as a whole is stronger and safer than it's been in a long time, and will continue to convey that image to the rest of the University," Arnay said. "I think that if they take a look at the record of our completion -- we've done about 85 percent of what we've needed to do in about half the time we've needed to do it -- if they look at that and don't listen to rumors, we'll be good," Arnay added. That is not to say that the effects of being on probation are not being felt. "Part of the agreement with OFSA was that the next three generations of SDT girls learn about the dangers of hazing and its consequences," Arnay said. "Our new-member education program has been totally different than ever before," she added. "It's about getting to know your class and the older girls in your house and getting out the tradition and the spirit that has been on Penn's campus since 1920." As for whether or not the incident impacted SDT recruitment, the sorority issued 51 bids, the maximum number allowed. According to both Arnay and Panhellenic Council President Elizabeth Kimmelman, this incident has actually had a positive impact on the Greek system as a whole. "It created an awareness among the sororities on campus," Kimmelman said. "It's made every house think twice. "It is a testament to the strength of SDT that they have overcome this, and the likelihood of [something like the hazing incident] recurring is slim to none," Kimmelman added. According to Kimmelman, SDT is setting an example that other sororities are trying to emulate. Arnay "has been a leader in discussions about implementing the [Panhellenic Council's] Strategic Plan by giving advice to other presidents about how to run good programming and successful community service events," Kimmelman said. "Through their rather unfortunate circumstances, SDT is leading the way in that." "Our house has definitely learned to work together in a different way," Arnay said. "It's allowing our house to be a little more public about things sororities stand for other than the Animal House or MTV image."Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.