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Fraternity under investigation at UVM

Burlington, Vermont - December 14, 2011

An investigation is underway at the University of Vermont's Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house. The question is who and what may have been behind a survey asking fraternity brothers who they would rape if they could.

"We want to make sure that any individuals that were responsible for that document or any other faults are held accountable," said Tyler Boggess of Sigma Phi Epsilon.

Leadership from the fraternity's national office was on the ground in Burlington Wednesday, working with UVM administration to look into the document that surfaced online earlier this week.

"It is very, very concerning to myself and our organization and it is not something that we stand for in terms of the values our members pledge ourselves to, that our organization pledges itself to," Boggess said.

UVM has temporarily suspended the fraternity and is talking with students to collect more information.

"It is technically free speech. It is deplorable and just absolutely inappropriate and offensive," said Annie Stevens, the associate vice president for student and campus life at UVM.

Stevens says the investigation could take a couple of days, depending on what her office learns. The fraternity, which is already on probation for alcohol violations, could face additional sanctions.

"It may be an instance where there is a dynamic where only a few knew about this, we don't know that yet, or maybe the whole chapter knew. Like who know and how did it get created? Those are the kinds of questions that we have," Stevens said.

Sigma Phi Epsilon's leaders have the same questions and say they'll be on the ground as long as it takes to get the answers.

"Our organization prides itself on having values of virtue, diligence, and brotherly love, to pledging itself to sound mind and sound body and the balanced man ideal, and certainly these actions that we are looking at here don't align with those values," Boggess said.

UVM could choose to disassociate itself with the fraternity. The fraternity says it would also consider expelling students behind the questionnaire.

For now, the students can live in the house but are barred from social activities. Asked how the fraternity's status before news of the survey came out will impact the current situation, officials told us those decisions are made on a case by case basis.

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Offensive survey may spell end of fraternity

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