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Sigma Chi vacates residence in light of hazing incident

BY VICTORIA EDWARDS
DAILY STAFF REPORTER

Published October 16, 2003

Sigma Chi fraternity members were evicted and told to move out of their fraternity house at 5 p.m. Wednesday. The move was in response to a hazing incident involving 21-year-old fraternity pledge and Kinesiology junior Evan Loomis that resulted in the fraternity's disbandment from the national Sigma Chi organization and the University's Interfraternity Council.

"The housing is not owned by Sigma Chi but rather by a local housing corporation of alumni for the sole purpose of owning a house," said Chris Moore, chairman of national housing for Sigma Chi's national office in Evanston, Ill.

"They've determined there is a risk involved with having non-Sigma Chi (members) living in the structure. The University is working with the housing association to find housing for those guys."

Although Sigma Chi was disbanded, members are not facing criminal charges for the hazing. The charges were dropped against the Sigma Chi fraternity on Tuesday because it was determined that Loomis participated in the pledging events voluntarily, Ann Arbor Police Chief Daniel Oates said.

"We kind of knew there wouldn't be any criminal action. There are no anti-hazing laws in Michigan, so it is impossible to prove there is criminal misconduct in these situations," Oates said.

But this inability to charge Sigma Chi with a criminal offense is one that legislators are trying to change. State Sen. Michelle McManus (R-Lake Leelanau) introduced a bill yesterday morning that Sen. Liz Brater (D-Ann Ann Arbor) cosponsored to make hazing a criminal offense in Michigan, whether voluntary or not.

Loomis said that if any good could come from his experience, it would be such that legislation that would crack down on hazing so that incidents such as his would not longer occur. "I think it (the legislation) is good, hopefully it will prevent anything like this from happening to anyone else. I guess that is the goal," Loomis told the Detroit Free Press..

Interfraternity Council President Branden Muhl said that the IFC was also planning on revising its anti-hazing laws. Muhl said the IFC will look at the legislation that Brater is proposing and it plans to support the bill although the IFC has not yet read it. "We'll look at what she put out there and see what we think compared to what we would have produced," Muhl said.

In the case of Loomis, however, no criminal charges were filled because the kidney failure that he experienced was a result of pledging activities - not drugs or alcohol involvement. Oates said that the kidney failure was caused by severe muscle breakdown.

"We have no evidence of a crime here, obviously the student was put through extraordinary rigorous activity, but there were no drugs and alcohol involved," Oates said.

But Oates said there were major complications in their investigation of the case. Most importantly, he said the police were not alerted about the incident until Sept. 23, two weeks after it occurred, and one week after the University was notified.

"The activity took place in the evening and morning of Sept. 10 and 11, (and) the University found out on Sept. 16. I found out Sept. 23, nearly two weeks after the occurrence," Oates said.

University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said that the University waited so long before contacting the police because their primary concern was not with criminal charges, but with the physical health of Loomis.

"I think the University followed actions it felt appropriate given the circumstances. It acted from a disciplinary standpoint once they got a better understanding of the situation," Peterson said.


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