Harold Leininger II always knew that he wanted to be a member of Sigma Nu.
His father died when he was 12, and after knowing his father was a member of Sigma Nu, he wanted to be a member, too, in order to be closer to him.
Leininger came to IU in 1952 to study sociology. In his second year he knew he wanted to join a fraternity, and he knew he belonged in Sigma Nu.
He said that he believes that being a part of Sigma Nu helped him and so many others build character. When the Beta Eta chapter was suspended Oct. 11, Leininger was both shocked and saddened to hear the news.
“I was concerned about the boys for a few years now,” Leininger said. “Although I had been told they were in trouble, I didn’t think this was going to happen.”
Alumni of the Beta Eta chapter, Leininger included, said they were excited for Homecoming Week. They had raised around $5 million to renovate the Sigma Nu house, which was first built in 1954 when Leininger was a student, and had a celebration planned Oct. 14 that included alumni and current members.
Three days before the event, Sigma Nu national headquarters suspended the chapter.
“When I was a student, they definitely hazed,” Leininger said. “We went through hell week for sure, but nothing we ever did involved alcohol and it was never dangerous and harmful. Alcohol-related hazing is just too dangerous.”
Leininger said he remembers he was the only member that did not drink, and that their hazing included tying a large onion to a string and pledges having to take a large bite of it if they did something wrong.
Former Sigma Nu member sophomore Chris Haddad said that IU’s definition of hazing includes going to study tables organized by the fraternity and that he never did anything involuntary or dangerous.
“All fraternities haze,” Haddad said. “Sororities haze, too. It’s a matter of who’s lucky enough to not get caught at this point.”
Leininger has been an active alumnus since graduation.
He donates to the chapter and occasionally attends the Wells Rally, a spring celebration that the chapter organizes. He said that when he was an active member, the fraternity was different and in order to recharter, they need to be held to the standard they were in the past.
“The actions of the actives and pledges which violated the vision and the mission of the Beta Eta chapter on the IU campus, after being sufficiently warned were justly rewarded by being thrown off campus,” Leininger said.
Former IU President Herman B Wells was a member of Sigma Nu, and Frank Beck, the IU alumnus who Beck Chapel is named for, was a founding member of the Beta Eta chapter.
Leininger was able to meet both of these men and said that he believes the suspension of Beta Eta would sadden and disappoint them.
“Because of Herman, I had to say something to the students,” Leininger said. “He would find a way to get things corrected, and I believe that the best thing that we should do is be held to the same standard we were in the past and recolonize when we can.”
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