August 27, 2009

Pipe Burst Leads to Pot Bust

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When a water pipe in the Sigma Nu fraternity on Willard Way broke last week and started flooding the second floor, a concerned brother called the fire department thinking it would be a routine fix. Instead, firefighters found six marijuana plants in a tinfoil-lined room, putting the fraternity in even more hot water.
“It wasn’t the fraternity’s doing; it was a brother,” said Robert Quintal ’10, last year’s president of the fraternity. Quintal noted that during his tenure as president last year, he had no knowledge of any illicit activities in the house. The brother responsible for the plants had been growing them over the summer.
The incident comes at an inopportune time for Sigma Nu. The fraternity was already facing sanctions from the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs due to hazing violations in the spring semester. Quintal emphasized that most brothers in the house are committed to University and Sigma Nu national policies and to rebuilding a besmirched reputation. [img_assist|nid=37645|title=House in distress|desc=Firefighters responded to a call about a burst pipe and discovered marijuana at the Sigma Nu house last week.|link=node|align=left|width=336|height=457]
The brother responsible for the plants has been identified by the Ithaca Police Department and is currently facing charges for a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 3 months in jail and/or a $500 fine. The plants had been supported by several high intensity lights, which the fire department said created a fire hazard. The fire hazard was exacerbated by the fact that the fire detection and sprinkler systems were found to be defective, and “Exit” signs were missing. The fraternity was effectively shut down until the infringements were fixed, with fraternity members being housed at local hotels and other fraternities. Neither the fire department nor the police department could be reached for comment. However, the fraternity is still waiting on a response from the University and the national fraternity.
“I’m hoping the fraternity will be safe, and not have to worry about finding a place to live mid-year,” Quintal said.
Officials from the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs would not comment on the case, as it is still in the hands of the Ithaca Police Department. Once the culprit is prosecuted, sanctions are expected to come. Punishment by the University could range from fines to social probation to various forms of community service. The growing of the marijuana plants are against the national fraternity policy as well, though the Sigma Nu Fraternity, Inc. headquarters in Leesburg, Va. were unable to be reached for comment.