The Zeta Kappa chapter of the Sigma Nu fraternity at California State University, Fresno, one of the university’s oldest fraternities, has been formally placed on suspension for 15 months – to be followed by a one-year probation — as the result of violations at a sanctioned event last November.

The Division of Student Affairs had placed the organization on interim suspension while it reviewed charges that alcohol was served to minors at a Nov. 16 party and that a student who reported a sexual assault that night felt that fraternity members pressured her not to report the attack.

Sigma Nu, established at Fresno State in 1951, appealed a Jan. 27 decision made by Dr. Carolyn V. Coon, executive assistant to the vice president for student affairs and dean of students, who conducted Fresno State’s administrative hearing.

But the decision to formally suspend was upheld today by Dr. Paul Oliaro, vice president and dean of student affairs.

Other sanctions were imposed, but the suspension was the severest, meaning the 30-plus-member fraternity loses all privileges associated with recognition as a student organization at Fresno State until June, 2004.

The organization, which was already on probation for previous infractions, was investigated after a female student accused a fraternity member of sexual assault at the November party held at the Sigma Nu house on Shaw Avenue.

After spending three days in custody, the alleged assailant was released when the Fresno County District Attorney decided not to file charges due to insufficient evidence.

But the university judicial affairs officer, Robert Hernandez, reviewed the fraternity’s handling of the party and aftermath in a two-month investigation and presented his findings at a Division of Student Affairs administrative hearing two weeks ago where the fraternity was allowed to address the charges before hearing officer Coon.

She ruled that the Sigma Nu fraternity failed to follow established risk management procedures as well as the Interfraternity Council Social Policy during the Nov. 16 party; allowed consumption and distribution of alcohol to minors; and allowed uninvited persons to attend the party.

The university also determined that the alleged victim felt intimidated by the fraternity members who she said attempted to dissuade her from reporting the alleged assault.

Coon said the suspension, and the ensuing probation, means the fraternity is not allowed to host, co-host or participate in any activities with alcohol present through spring 2005. The students also must work closely with the Greek Affairs adviser at Fresno State to establish a positive image as well as participate in educational activities.

“Violation of any of the established sanctions may result in the permanent loss of recognition of Sigma Nu Fraternity at California State University, Fresno,” Coon told the organization.