EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to include comments and clarifications from Kappa Sigma.
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – The University of Utah terminated its recognition of the Kappa Sigma fraternity chapter on Friday, Dec. 23, after reported violations of university policies and rules. This is the second time Kappa Sigma has lost recognition with the university since 2002.
As part of the termination, the Kappa Sigma chapter will no longer be allowed to operate as a fraternity affiliated with the University of Utah and will not be recognized as a student organization.
Kappa Sigma, which faced sexual assault allegations earlier this year, was reportedly placed on an additional administrative suspension for hazing allegations on Oct. 26, 2022. Both investigations into the allegations reportedly found the fraternity not guilty of sexual assault and hazing. However, the fraternity chapter was placed on probation for having alcohol at the fraternity house.
According to a decision letter written by Vice President for Student Affairs Lori McDonald, the fraternity was “unequivocally” ordered to suspend its events, including philanthropy events planned during the week of Halloween, while an investigation into the hazing allegations was ongoing.
University of Utah leadership said the fraternity went ahead with the events, including pumpkin painting, a therapy dog event, and a car smashing event. When the fraternity was reminded to shut down its events, fraternity leadership reportedly responded by saying, “I’m still not shutting it down, I don’t really care.”
Josh Bennett, an alumnus advisor with Kappa Sigma, told ABC4 the fraternity chose to move forward with the events to raise money for a fellow member’s father who suffers from ALS. Bennet said through the events, Kappa Sigma raised about $16,000 to donate towards fighting the disease.
“We found it more important to raise money for something bigger,” said Bennett.
Bennett also expressed disappointment in the University of Utah for how it handled the reported investigations, saying the University has a track record of mishandling sexual assault allegations.
According to McDonald’s decision letter, McDonald said she found it concerning that the fraternity chapter would move forward with its “clearly prohibited” events, citing the fraternity was dissatisfied with the University’s investigation.
In her letter, McDonald wrote, “I do not have confidence the Kappa Sigma chapter will follow the University’s directions, policies, or the terms of a suspension or probation, and therefore, termination of the University’s recognition of the chapter is warranted.”
Bennett told ABC4 he views this as a minor setback for Kappa Sigma, but it allows the fraternity chapter to focus on what is important and they can come out stronger on the other side.
Kappa Sigma will be able to re-apply for University recognition after Jan. 1, 2024. Bennett had no comment on if the fraternity chapter will re-apply.
The fraternity previously lost its recognition in 2002 after it hosted a keg party in January of that year that resulted in more than 50 alcohol violations, including 40 citations for underage drinking, according to a Deseret News article. It had since been re-recognized until the latest termination.