Sorority learns from mistakes

By Linda Luk

The members of Sigma Gamma Rho have taken a proactive role to reorganize their service sorority.

The sorority was placed under probation last spring by its national headquarters.

“We were put on probation for violating our national headquarters’ Membership Intake Process, which are guidelines you have to follow during membership,” said Tara McDonald, historian for Sigma Gamma Rho. “We violated three minor MIPs.”

The probation is more of a learning experience than a punishment, McDonald said.

“I just don’t want people to look at [the probation] as a negative thing,” McDonald said. “We want to better ourselves and be stronger on campus.”

NIU had no involvement in the probation because the sorority did not break any university rules.

“They were investigated for allegations on hazing,” said Bertrand Simpson, associate director of University Programming and Activities. “The national organization conducted the investigation. It was not NIU or me.”

The organization is under probation through Dec. 31, 2003. It took effect Sept. 1.

“The violations were minor,” said Janine Frazier, alumni chapter adviser. “[The probation] was to do some reconstructing, to bring their ideals in line with the national policy.”

Although the sorority has been placed under probation, it was not for any hazing violation.

When an organization is placed under probation, its normal activities are limited severely, Simpson said. But the sorority still is here.

“The probation seems sufficient for the purpose,” Simpson said. “If we think it is not sufficient, we could have acted independently.”

The probation has given the sorority time to reconstruct its organization, and to fall in line with the national headquarter’s new MIP process, McDonald said.

“All organizations are learning this process, and all the organizations are going through extensive training for this new process,” McDonald said.

“It is actually a time for reflection and refocusing,” Frazier said.

Even with the current situation, the organization still is committed to doing programs, community service and preserving academic excellence.

“We are still a contributing and functioning organization,” said Danaya Merrills, president of Sigma Gamma Rho. “[Probation] takes away privileges to help better the organization and strengthen the chapter.”

This semester, the chapter helped students move in during New Student Welcome Days, participated in the Zeta Phi Beta AIDS walk-a-thon and participated in the organizations’ national project, Big Book Bag.

The chapter also holds the highest grade point average among all Greeks on campus, which is 3.44.

During the probation, UP&A will keep an eye on the chapter, Simpson said.

Through the investigation, the organization’s headquarters has kept in touch with the university.

“We have always informed the university,” Frazier said. “We always keep our lines of communication open. The graduate chapter is very proud of them and supportive. We are looking forward to another 25 years of community service and support.”