The University of Utah has withdrawn its recognition of Kappa Sigma following action by the fraternity's parent organization to cancel its charter.
The Utah unit has been under review both locally and nationally since a keg party at the U. house on Jan. 19 that resulted in more than 50 alcohol violations, including 40 citations for underage drinking.
As soon as the action was taken on the national level, the university immediately withdrew recognition, said Barbara Snyder, vice president of student affairs.
"When a national organization removes its recommendation, our response is immediate," she said.
It is the first time in the 93-year history of the university's relationship with Greek fraternities that a charter has been revoked.
Leaders of Kappa Sigma International, which has headquarters in Charlottesville, Va., met over the weekend in Macon, Ga., and determined to withdraw the U. chapter's charter.
Mitchell B. Wilson, executive director, said the January incident was a factor, but "the overall history of the chapter" led to the cancellation. "We though it best to close the chapter and perhaps look at it again later."
Canceling of the charter surprised some Utah Kappa Sigma officials, because it was contrary to recommendations made by Kappa Sigma regional representative Darrell Kilgore, who lives in northern Idaho, and the U. Greek Council, said Michael W. Dalebout, U. chapter adviser.
But pressure from neighbors has been strong to squelch activities at the chapter house at 1435 E. Federal Way. Conflict between local residents and fraternities on the university's northern fringe has been fomenting for several years and efforts have been made to resolve their differences.
Dalebout concedes that the Kappa Sigma members were not acting appropriately in the January incident. "They were breaking the law and deserved to be punished," he said.
But Dalebout believes the punishment may have been excessive, and that the police involvement at Kappa Sigma on Jan. 19 was instigated by a City Council member "before the fact." He thinks neighbors have been motivated by a desire to have the Kappa Sigma house get into private hands "to increase their own land values. It's completely about money," he said. "Once we're gone, the neighbors can steamroll the (other fraternity houses on the row) and the Greek system will be gone."
He believes Kappa Sigma has been singled out for special attention because of its location at the end of the row, closest to private residences. Liquor violations and fraternity high jinks have not been exclusive to Kappa sigma, he noted. Nor are drinking parties exclusive to the Greek organizations, he said.
Loss of its charter leaves the local chapter in limbo, Dalebout said. He has been in contact with Salt Lake City Attorney Roger Cutler, who, he said, has indicated the city would prefer that the house revert to a private residence. The house is owned by Kappa Sigma House Corporation, a local organization. How funds from a sale would be handled is still not clear, he said.