Sigma Tau Gamma faces two-year suspension, pending appeal

Colleen Hammond | news editor


Griffin Sendek | Multimedia editor Duquesne’s chapter of Sigma Tau Gamma has been suspended for the next two years. The members plan to appeal this decision, even though all Greek Life has been suspended until Feb. 1, 2021.

Trouble is on the horizon for Duquesne fraternity Sigma Tau Gamma as they face a two-year organizational suspension for violating their probation.

On the evening of Aug. 25, four members of Sigma Tau Gamma (Sig Tau) were involved in an incident with the Duquesne Police on their designated wing of the Duquesne Towers. During their final evening rounds, residence life employees noticed the smell of marijuana coming from one of the bathrooms on the Sig Tau wing. Residence Life then found a small group of students comprised of Sig Tau members and other Towers residents using a bong in the bathroom.

Because marijuana was present, Duquesne Police were dispatched and the Resident Director searched the rooms on the floor. In the initial search, multiple alcohol containers were retrieved, along with the aforementioned bong and two fake IDs. One of these fake IDs belonged to Sig Tau president Michael Bunce. Bunce claimed that his fake ID was inside a private safe and that the Duquesne Police had no right to seize it. However, Bunce also noted that he was not pressured or threatened by Duquesne Police to open the safe. Bunce said he opened the safe to be searched by his own will.

Bunce and his fellow Sig Tau member, who was also in possession of a fake ID, were issued citations by Duquesne Police and are contesting these citations in court on Nov. 5.

While the students involved were all, individually, subject to the Office of Student Conduct, Sig Tau also had to answer for their actions as an organization seeing as how three of Sig Tau’s executive board’s four members were involved in the incident, said Bunce.

This was problematic for Sig Tau because they were already on organizational probation for hazing until May 7, 2021, according to Bunce.

Rebecca Mickler, director of Greek life, and Annie Mullarkey Sawa, director of student conduct, said “that Family Educational Rights Protection Act (FERPA) regulations prohibit the University from sharing specifics related to any individual students or specific organizations” and would not comment on Sig Tau’s current situation.

According to Bunce, after the incident on Aug. 25, Sig Tau had to face a disciplinary panel to determine if they had violated their probation.

However, Bunce said there was another incident on the Sig Tau wing of Towers on the same day as the disciplinary hearing for the first offense.

In the evening of Sept. 19, Duquesne Police reported “students in Towers were found to have a bong in their possession along with two empty bottles of alcohol. They are being referred to the Office of Student Conduct.”

According to Bunce, a group of students, once again Sig Tau members and Towers residents, were in his dorm room when another student came in with a bong. Bunce claimed he did not know at the time who brought the bong. He said resident assistants were completing their nightly rounds when they knocked on the door, smelling marajuana. “In a panic,” the students then hid the bong in the ceiling. When the resident assistants entered the room, they noticed the bong dripping from the ceiling and called Duquesne Police.

“You can’t not take responsibility for it. They found it. It was here,” Bunce said.

Duquesne Police responded to the scene and confiscated the bong. The involved students were referred to the Office of Student Conduct.

Subsequently, at the disciplinary hearing for the first offense, Bunce said Sig Tau was found in violation of their probation and would face additional punishments.

Sig Tau appealed this decision, but received the same sentence from a new disciplinary committee.

Bunce believes this decision is entirely due to Mickler’s opinion of the fraternity.

“She’s putting all these thoughts in their [the disciplinary committee’s] heads right before they decide,” Bunce said.

Mickler once again cited FERPA and stated she could not comment on specific students or situations.

“She put a ton of bias in the panel’s head about us,” Bunce said.

Bunce claimed that Mickler advocated for a 10-year suspension of Sig Tau. Instead, they were found in violation of their probation by two separate disciplinary committees and now face a two-year organizational suspension. Bunce stated they will be appealing this decision for a third time with the help of their national organization.

“If they’re all [the fraternities] suspended, she [Mickler] doesn’t have a job,” Bunce said.

As part of this suspension, Sig Tau is prohibited from accepting new members, bringing new members into living on the Towers wing, holding organizational events and will likely have to dissolve their current Towers wing, according to Bunce.

Bunce thinks this dissolution of the Towers wing is unlikely due to the pandemic, stating that moving the Sig Tau brothers in with new students could put them at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

“We feel safe living with these kids,” Bunce said. “None of us are gonna get it (COVID-19).”

His confidence in the Sig Tau brothers’ immunity to the virus comes the same week as all Greek Life has been suspended from campus until Feb. 1, 2021.

Still, Bunce remained adamant that he feels he has been treated “unfairly” by the university.

“I think we were being targeted based on Rebecca Mickler’s opinion of us,” Bunce said.