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Frat Talk: The Good Boys

Members of the SigEp fraternity say there's life after "Shane's World"

 by Sam Friedman
 published on Thursday, February 23, 2006

Patrick Spomer, president SigEp, says the organization worked hard to restore its reputation after the chapter lost its charter in 2002. /issues/arts/695919
Patrick Spomer, president SigEp, says the organization worked hard to restore its reputation after the chapter lost its charter in 2002.


At the Native New Yorker Restaurant on Dorsey Lane and Broadway Road, a large group of fraternity brothers assemble for a night out.

At first glance the scene looks pretty average; a sprinkling of creatively-perched baseball caps, some muscle shirts, mountains of food. But something's wrong.

It's the conversation.

"The U.K isn't actually one country," comments international business junior Mark Bandawat, sipping delicately on his Coke. "In fact it's made up of three different ones; England, Scotland and Wales."

His brothers' nod, looking genuinely interested.

Such intellectual conversation may seem a little strange for a fraternity embarking on a Friday night out. But then, the men from SigEp, the ASU colony of Sigma Phi Epsilon, aren't your average frat boys.

One day in July 2002 ensured that.

It was then that ASU officials found out that members of four different ASU fraternities, including SigEp, had participated in "Shane's World #29: Frat Row Scavenger Hunt 3", a pornographic video shot predominantly at ASU's Tempe campus.

The video included sex on a campus lawn and a "sexual scavenger hunt" in which two members from each fraternity were paired with two female porn stars and received points for the amount of sexual acts they completed.

The video caused widespread controversy, and President Crow alleged it violated the school's code of conduct.

"These kinds of things have a negative impact on the University," Crow told The State Press in August 2002.

Subsequently, the national chapter of SigEp decided to take away the ASU group's charter, forcing the fraternity to rent their house on Alpha Drive to Pi Kappa Alpha and disband their own chapter.

And that's how things remained, until fall 2004.

It was then that the national chapter of SigEp sent two head recruiters to ASU to banish the video's lingering memory and reinstate the chapter.

Fast forward two years and here are the new faces of SigEp; polite, friendly and without an alcoholic beverage in sight.

At the head of the table, President Patrick Spomer groans at the mention of "the video."

The rest of the brothers hear the question, but simultaneously dip their heads to avoid answering. Spomer explains says the video is something "the guys" don't really like to discuss.

But self-titled "poster-boy" and psychology junior Matt Trujillo finally breaks the silence. "I got to say, I'd like to see it," he admits with a broad grin.

"I mean it would be wrong for us to just completely ignore it, right?" he adds.

But ignore, forget and move on is exactly what Spomer says SigEp has tried to do since re-forming.

"Initially ASU administration were like 'oh great SigEp's back,'" he says. "But we've worked hard on lots of community projects and managed to reclaim credibility."

One of the things that sets SigEp apart from other fraternities, according to Spomer, is an internal initiative called The Balanced Man Program, which aims to direct brothers away from vice and instead focus them on developing a "sound body and mind."

As well as brotherhood events like tonight's meal, the fraternity also uses its $550 a-semester dues to organize career seminars and create personalized workout plans.

Essentially, Spomer says proudly, SigEp is not your typical ASU frat.

"We don't make people pledge, don't demean women and aren't drunken assholes," he says. "We have the highest GPA of all the fraternities and we're basically here to promote and support each other."

Despite his confidence, Spomer's young fraternity still faces a number of problems. They have yet to have their charter reinstated, and for now must make do with the title of "colony" instead of "chapter."

SigEp has also struggled to recruit new members and currently has 20 less than the 45 they need to fill their old house on Alpha Drive. Spomer says the legacy of the porn video is partly responsible.

"A lot of guys mention it, but when I hear 'I saw that video...' I'm just like, 'nice to meet you' and won't call them back. We don't want people like that," he says."Our founding principles are value, diligence and brotherly love."

Suddenly Spomer's attention is distracted.

Bandawat is burning up: it's the restaurant's reputedly lethal "suicide wings".

He lunges for water but is stopped by friend and finance junior Sean Cohan.

"Water doesn't actually help when you've eaten spicy food," he advises kindly.

Spomer smiles. His gloating has just been gloriously vindicated.

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