In response to the chapter’s answer to the lawsuit, the national organization accused the chapter of making “inflammatory, unfounded, and legally meritless” claims against Sigma Phi Society that have nothing to do with trademark law. Days after the 2019 cease-and-desist letter, Michigan Sigma Phi's then-president, Anthony Cece, reportedly complied and covered up the Sigma Phi letters on the fraternity house. Stoneback — who lived for 2 1/2 years in the fraternity house at 907 Lincoln Ave. and is an alumna working for a publishing company in New York —  remains active on the fraternity's alumni board and supports the chapter's stance. But within one of the court filings, the society's lawyers wrote: "In a nutshell, Defendants want to continue to operate as a Sigma Phi Chapter, identify as a Sigma Phi Chapter, and use the Trademarks — without following the rules. While the lawsuit is steeped in arguments around issues of trademark, it raises a host of questions, including whether women should be allowed to join a fraternity on a college campus, and what happens when a fraternity member is a man who transitions to a woman, or is nonbinary. The scofflaw chapter continued using Sigma Phi’s Greek letters after the convention voted it down, prompting a cease-and-desist letter from the Sigma Phi Society in … Nine intersectional panelists answered questions from diversity facilitator Lee Mun Wah. MORE: Lawsuit accuses Syracuse of inventing evidence to punish fraternity. "In fact, Chi Omega members are educated on expectations for membership, and as a condition of membership, each individual bears the personal responsibility to abide by applicable federal, state and local laws and college/university rules and regulations, as well as Chi Omega policies, rules and procedures.". It is not clear how many other fraternities across the nation initiate people who are not men. Whitney Plumpton, director of marketing and public relations for Chi Omega Executive Headquarters, said in a Friday statement to the Indiana Daily Student that her organization had been made aware of an IU investigation into allegations made against the Theta Beta chapter. Copyright © 2020 The College Fix, all rights reserved. The fraternity's national headquarters has since served a cease-and-desist order to the chapter. Lawsuit accuses Syracuse of inventing evidence to punish fraternity, University thinks it can dictate how ‘banned’ fraternity uses its own property, Duke professor blames white men for white female professors impersonating women of color, GWU’s Election Day warning to students: stockpile ‘food, supplies, medicine’, Yale nursing students say racism is ‘rampant’ at the school, Virginia Military Institute buckles, will remove statue of Stonewall Jackson, Professor: Student extracurricular activities serve racism, sexism, Powered by the Student Free Press Association. If a hearing after the cease and desist period results in Chi Omega closing, those recruits would be allowed out of those bids. The third round of sorority recruitment, the Sisterhood Round, begins Friday night. "National Sigma Phi has suffered irreparable harm to the valuable Trademarks, including infringement and dilution thereof, and to National Sigma Phi’s image, identity, and goodwill," said the lawsuit. The UM fraternity continued to oppose gender-based discrimination, elected Stoneback as the president and resumed efforts to amend the constitution and by-laws of the national fraternity, the chapter said in its filing. Stephanie Stoneback was a sophomore at the University of Michigan when a member of Sigma Phi invited her to pledge the fraternity, whose members at the time were mostly men. The unusual move came after a fraternity member who was male began to identify as a woman while rushing and pledging the fraternity earlier that year. Stoneback accepted and became part of Michigan Sigma Phi's fall 2016 pledge class, which included five men and four other women.

After the convention, Michigan Sigma Phi lost permission to use the trademark fraternity letters and insurance for the fraternity house in October 2019, according to the lawsuit. What does the law matter? The chapter has also harmed the national organization’s “image, identity, and goodwill”: In a nutshell, Defendants want to continue to operate as a Sigma Phi Chapter, identify as a Sigma Phi Chapter, and use the Trademarks — without following the rules. Respectfully, Defendants cannot have it both ways. That 2016 class accepted four women including Stephanie Stoneback, who served as president the following academic year. A 60-day notice to active members and alumni was required before the vote, and the UM fraternity learned the best way to do that was through the fraternity's national publication but the notice was "mysteriously delayed" and "the proposal was not noticed in time," according to the chapter's response to the lawsuit. Respectfully, Defendants cannot have it both ways.".

The society affirmed it is an all-male organization, that its constitution does not allow females to join, and that it would not amend the document to let women become members, the suit says, adding that Michigan Sigma Phi violated the rules and permitted women to join and live in the fraternity house. "But honestly, it really just felt like I was joining a group of friends.". But Michigan Sigma Phi continue to operate without liability insurance coverage, "subjecting both its members and National Sigma Phi to undue exposure.". The Daily Rundown is published Monday through Friday and gives you a quick look at the day's top stories. Sigma Phi Society — the New York-based national organization that touts itself as the oldest Greek fraternity in the country — is now attempting to sever ties with the UM fraternity in a lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Detroit. During summer 2017, Michigan Sigma Phi attempted to try and amend the constitution and bylaws of Sigma Phi Society so each chapter could decide its membership. "I believe our will is being thwarted by the national organization through a suit that is using trademark laws but is about something a little different. Dinsmore & Shohl, the law firm for Sigma Phi Society, declined to comment. But the fraternity continued to use the Greek letters, the suit says. Organizations on cease and desist are required to suspend chapter activities such as parties and meetings.

"The shift to gender-inclusivity reignited interest in the organization," lawyers for Michigan Sigma Phi said in response to the lawsuit. The statement said the national organization would be partnering with IU as the investigation proceeds, and that the extent of chapter activity suspension was still unknown.

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