Posted on February 10, 2003 in News
By Mike Barden
The Interfraternity Council (IFC), the student-run governing body of USM, is short a few members due to the absence of those associated with the Gamma Omega chapter of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity. This is because Gamma Omega owes about $3,700 to the Phi Kappa Sigma national office, based in Pennsylvania.
Gamma Omega’s annual insurance premium would amount to $4,500, according to Chapter President Sean Person, an accounting major and Phi Kappa Sigma member since spring 2000. Gamma Omega’s annual dues per member usually cover this obligation with some funds left over. However, when James R. Favor & Company, one of the nation’s only providers of insurance to Greek organizations (Portland Press Herald, Jan. 17), raised its rates after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists attacks, Phi Kappa Sigma was faced with a substantial increase in liability premium. The national office paid the increased premium and then billed its chapters accordingly.
“We weren’t really ready for this,” stated Person, referring to the September 2002 insurance bill of about $8,200. When asked if Gamma Omega considered asking its national office for a loan, Person indicated that Phi Kappa Sigma “kinda” floated Gamma Omega a loan in the sense that the national office had already paid the premium and was asking its national chapters to make up the shortfall.
This is where the details get a little fuzzy: why, if the national office of Phi Kappa Sigma has met the entire amount of its annual insurance premium required by its carrier, would it suspend any of its chapters that hadn’t met their outstanding liability as of January 2003? The answer to this question seems to be that the national office of Phi Kappa Sigma is sending a message to its still-reeling chapters: “We need you to pay now!”
Not that Gamma Omega is alone in its plight. According to Person, “Pretty much all New England [chapters are] having the same problem, except Orono.”
The USM chapter of Phi Kappa Sigma, Gamma Omega, is no longer a recognized member of Phi Kappa Sigma as of mid-January. And because they are no longer recognized by Phi Kappa Sigma, the chapter is “de-recognized” by USM as well.
This means that the fraternity cannot utilize any University services and cannot hold any events bearing the Phi Kappa Sigma moniker.
In fact, the house at 27 Preble St. in Gorham had the “Sigma” removed from the Phi Kappa Sigma logo. The fraternity also loses three seats on the IFC, including the vice-presidency. When it next meets, the IFC will consist of members from only three fraternities: Sigma Nu, Kappa Delta Phi and Delta Chi.
Nonetheless, “We still consider [the brothers of Phi Kappa Sigma] Greek.” says Anthony Pergola, president of the IFC.
Rodney Mondor, assistant dean of Student Life, said, “It’s not uncommon for Greek organizations to face fiscal woes, but Phi Kappa Sigma is the only one having troubles at this point.” Mondor also volunteered that Person has met with him for advice and fund-raising ideas aimed at meeting the mid-March deadline imposed on Gamma Omega by the Phi Kappa Sigma national office.
Person is “almost 100 percent positive” that he and his brothers will rise to the challenge. Gamma Omega has raised the dues of its 27 members from $200 to $300, and is sponsoring a Polar Bear Plunge on Feb. 16 at 1 p.m. at Old Orchard Beach. 25 percent of the proceeds from this event will go to benefit the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society, and the rest will go to cover the balance of Gamma Omega’s insurance liability.
As soon as Gamma Omega meets its financial obligation to the national office of Phi Kappa Sigma, it will be reinstated and recognized by that organization. Then, USM will again recognize Gamma Omega as a fraternity in good standing with all the rights and privileges accorded thereto. And the lonely Phi Kappa on the side of the building at 27 Preble St. will be re-Sigma-tized.
Mike Barden can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org