Sig Eps’ Goldenhearts receive reluctant boot

By Christine Boike

The Sigma Phi Epsilon organization has begun to disband its little sister program in response to insurance problems.

“Fraternities right now are going through a big liability insurance battle,” SPE President Thor Peplow said.

Little sisters are not covered by insurance, and “if they’re affiliated with Sig Eps, they have to be insured by Sig Eps,” Peplow said.

If Goldenhearts, the former SPE little sister program, was insured, dues would have to be increased, the program would have to be more structured and the fraternity would have to keep a closer eye on them, he said.

The Goldenheart program worked on a semester basis, and it often carried over into the following semester for women who chose to stay involved.

There is a little sister rush, made up of parties where the women meet the fraternity members and are bid on to become little sisters, Peplow said.

The Goldenhearts would pay dues to the fraternity which mainly funded little sister parties with the men, but they had their own fundraisers as well. They also had a “little pledge program” and were required to ask each member of the fraternity to sign their pledge books. This helped the women meet the men, he said.

Peplow said SPE does not want to discriminate by including little sisters in only some of the fraternity activities. He said the women did not think they were discriminated against but, “in a sense,” they were.

The little sisters were only a part of the fraternity and without the same responsibilities as its male members. He said the fraternity would be held responsible if the little sisters did something wrong.

For example, Peplow said, if the Goldenhearts held a party and someone had fallen and hurt themselves, their local and national fraternity could be sued. The only other alternative would be to have a coed organization.

From Aug. 13-15, all 250 SPE chapters nationwide gathered in New Orleans to discuss the little sister issue, among other things.

Each chapter president, a delegate, an alternate and a house member from each house attended, and on Aug. 14 they voted on the little sister disbandment.

The members of SPE had done extensive research on this vote, and they talked to insurance companies and came up with facts and figures which all pointed to the same solution. They just “couldn’t handle the risk” anymore, Peplow said.

Sig Eps is trying to adopt an Honorary Goldenheart program which acknowledges the most active woman in the chapter. Peplow said they might start this program next semester, and it probably will involve a sorority member.

SPE Scholarship Chairman Bob Meier said, “I think it helps the sororities,” and “we got more involved with sororities because we don’t have little sisters (anymore).”

Peplow said the fraternity wants to promote the sorority system, and when they had to disband the little sisters, the men urged the women to join sororities.

Peplow said, “I’d like to thank all (former) little sisters and let them know we really appreciate the things they’ve done in the past.”