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PARALLEL UNIVERSE: UNC Fraternity Goes Way Too Far with Newspaper Theft

Posted by kinchendavid on December 1, 2006

By David M. Kinchen
Editor, Huntington News Network

Hinton, WV  – There are stupid pet tricks and stupid fraternity – maybe that’s a tautology – tricks and members of the suspended Sigma Chi fraternity at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill have admitted guilt in one of the most stupid tricks imaginable, especially in this age of online news sites.

According to the Daily Tar Heel and the Raleigh News & Observer, the fraternity admitted Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006 to stealing more than 10,000 copies of the Daily Tar Heel, the campus daily. The Daily Tar Heel, pictured with this column, had a front-page story about the fraternity’s actions.

I’m continually amazed that fraternities and sororities haven’t been abolished after all these years of racial, religious and ethnic discrimination and sheer stupidity of behavior. UNC’s Sigma Chi chapter was found guilty last week of seven violations of the UNC Greek system’s code of conduct, said Hunter Diefes, co-chairman of the Greek Judicial Board. (Hunter, now there’s a perfect name for a frat boy – it could have come straight out of the flick “Animal House.”).

Diefes said the charges included verbally harassing pledges, making them drink alcohol, depriving them of sleep and making them perform menial tasks. Sounds to me like a typical day on campus at a party school – and I believe UNC qualifies as much as its neighbor in Durham, Duke University.

According to Jane Stancill and Lisa Hoppenjans of the Raleigh paper, “The Sigma Chi fraternity fessed up Wednesday afternoon and apologized to The Daily Tar Heel. In exchange for the fraternity’s agreeing to make restitution in the “high four figures,” the newspaper will not press charges, said Kevin Schwartz, the paper’s full-time general manager.”

News sources state that the fraternity was suspended by the Greek board until 2009, which means the group would be barred from initiations and social events but could hold regular meetings or perform community service.

“This was big news on campus, and The Daily Tar Heel stripped it across Wednesday’s front page,” according to Stancill and Hoppenjans. “But between 7 and 8 a.m., more than half of the newspaper’s daily press run was taken from about 50 racks on and around campus, Schwartz said.”

The two added in their story that the DTH posted news of the thefts on its Web site, mentioning that UNC police were investigating the missing papers as a case of larceny. Though single copies of the newspaper are free, a disclaimer inside notes that additional copies are 25 cents each. The paper printed replacements by the afternoon as kibitzers on the paper’s Web site speculated that Sigma Chis were the culprits.

By 4 p.m., Sigma Chi chapter President Doug Dyer was in the office to apologize and offer money. (Doug Niedermeyer was the name of the Nazi-like leader of one of the fraternities in the classic 1978 film “Animal House.”).

Schwartz said the fraternity agreed to make restitution for the loss of ad revenue, and the printing costs of the stolen papers and the roughly 4,000 replacements.

“We just want people to be deterred from doing it in the future and to understand you’re depriving your fellow students of their paper,” Schwartz said.

Dyer didn’t answer questions about the hazing charges, which the chapter has appealed, but said the group takes responsibility for the stolen papers. A letter of apology will appear in today’s Daily Tar Heel, he said.

The international Sigma Chi fraternity will look into the hazing in the next couple of weeks, said Mark Anderson, president of the Evanston, Ill.-based organization. “We have a zero tolerance of hazing,” Anderson said.

Yeah, sure!

Link to News & Observer story:



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