During September, two incidents occurred in the Hawk’s Ridge Condominiums often called “The Block,” which led to the interim suspension of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity (SAE). The suspicion of the use of date rape drugs were reported on Sept. 11 and a physical assault took place which resulted in student injuries on Sept. 18, as well as another drugging report that day. For both of these incidents, an MSU Timely Warning was issued. In the second timely warning, it was announced that SAE had been placed on interim suspension.
The investigation, which was conducted by SAE national headquarters, the Dean of Students and the Bozeman Police has been now concluded. Dean of Students Matt Caires stated that evidence of conduct violations including assault and underage drinking were found during the investigation, although no evidence was found that supported students being given date rape drugs. It was concluded that both incidents involved members of SAE.
It has not yet been decided what the outcome of the investigation will be for SAE. Caires hopes to issue outcomes within the next two weeks. “We are drawing conclusions that members of SAE were involved with both incidents, and because of that we are coming up with what the fair outcome should be for the student organization,” Caires said, “Some of the members weren’t there, so should the fraternity be punished for a handful of members’ involvement? That’s what we’re working through.”
The Dean of Students office and SAE national headquarters will also meet with SAE student leadership to discuss what they think is a fair outcome. “We don’t like formal conduct hearings. It automatically makes the university adversarial with students. We want to resolve conduct matters informally,” Caires said. He added that two years ago, interim restrictions for fraternities Pi Kappa Alpha and Sigma Chi were resolved successfully in a similar manner.
While Caires did not want to release too much information before discussing the outcome with SAE, he did indicate that the outlook is good. “There is no evidence that we have discovered that would permanently ban SAE at this point. I don’t see the university saying that the behavior was so egregious that we are going to disband SAE. I don’t see that being an outcome here,” Caires said. He also stated that SAE had cooperated with the investigation and have not had conduct issues since their suspension. “They are managing their affairs safely and as far as we know, in compliance with the conduct code.”
According to Caires, there have not been any complaints issued from “The Block” since the second timely warning was issued. Additionally, property owners have become more involved with the behavior of tenants living on their premises. “I always see student misbehavior as an opportunity to make the fraternity or the student group better,” Caires said.
Caires said that the investigation has taken time because of the involvement of SAE national headquarters and the magnitude of the situation. “We would suspend any other student organization if there was ongoing danger. If SAE feels like we’ve picked on them, we felt there was an ongoing danger to the students and we needed to take serious measures.”
An earlier version of this article stated that a sexual assault involving members of SAE occurred in a residence at the Hawk’s Ridge Condos. This is incorrect an has been corrected above, no evidence of any sexual assault or use of date rape drugs was found during the dean’s investigation.