April 3, 2015

Pi Beta Phi sorority pays for event damages with charity money

A performance at Arrowfest, Pi Beta Phi's annual charity event, resulted in $5,000 in damages, which the sorority plans to pay for using funds raised at the event.

As previously reported by The Maroon the event featured various performances from all on-campus fraternities and raised money for the Pi Beta Phi Foundation, which funds youth literacy programs, among other charitable causes.

However, the performance by the Sigma Chi fraternity involved the use of canola oil, which stained the floor of the Logan Center's performance hall. Repairs are estimated at $5,000 and the University held the sorority, not Sigma Chi, solely responsible, said fourth-year Tessa Weil, a Pi Beta Phi member who was present at the event.

At Pi Beta Phi's regular chapter meeting on Monday, the sisters voted to pay the University using proceeds from Arrowfest instead of drawing from their budget for a spring formal dance, said Weil.

“People donated to the Pi Beta Phi Foundation knowing that the proceeds would go toward helping kids learn how to read, not to pay for a stage. I think that we should have taken the money from the social budget. It would have sucked to not have a formal, but at least it’s not lying [to the donors],” said Weil.

Third-year Lukun Zhang, chapter president of Pi Beta Phi, said in an e-mail, “While our chapter was not made aware of the incident until after Sigma Chi took the stage, we took full responsibility for the damages caused by their performance.  We worked closely with the venue to ensure the repairs were promptly made. Pi Beta Phi is also still in communication with Sigma Chi regarding the damages."

Offering a different perspective, Weil said, “There are precedents to doing this type of thing—using proceeds to pay for the unanticipated costs of a charitable event. But we chose to do this in order to have a formal. I don’t know what Sigma Chi would or wouldn’t be willing to pay for the damages. But this says that Pi Beta Phi didn’t want to push the subject and make it an issue throughout Greek life."

Eily Cummings, a national representative of Pi Beta Phi, said that the organization has learned from the experience of the oil spill.

“It is unfortunate the poor judgement of a few resulted in fewer dollars being raised for Pi Beta Phi’s Read > Lead > Achieve literacy initiatives. Our chapter is reevaluating our event policies and procedures to ensure a more successful event next year,” she said.

Campus and national representatives of the Sigma Chi Fraternity and University of Chicago Facilities and Operations could not be reached for comment.

Editor's Note: Deputy Editor-in-Chief Sarah Manhardt is a member of Pi Beta Phi. She had no involvement with the writing, editing, or production of this article.