From the Archive: Sigma Nu

One thing that quickly arises when people are not fully informed about mysterious events is a series of rumors that escalate and spiral out of control, until literally no one knows what actually happened. Such is the case with the loss of the Sigma Nu house: Mines’ first fraternity chartered in 1901. A lack of information sparked dozens of ideas around campus about what transpired inside that house; each one showing just how crazy the human mind can get when its imagination is left to fill in the blanks of a story.

The first rumor I learned of, and probably the tamest to be honest, was that the house had enough alcohol and drugs to supply the entire campus for a full weekend of hardcore-film-worthy-college partying. All it took was one misplaced word and suddenly the Mines Police Department was all over the place. Considering the stigma around Greek life and stereotypes regarding frat houses, this was far from a shocking theory. It still seemed a little farfetched though. With the sheer number of stories of people getting in trouble for alcohol on campus, it sounded a little obnoxious that something like that caused an entire fraternity to lose their house.

But then the crack house idea popped up. And yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. The frat house was suspected of making crack cocaine and selling it to students in order to fund their chapter. One key piece of information that people missed though, is that the School of Mines never showed any signs of having a cocaine problem. It is highly addictive and has very nasty, very blatant, side effects. It wasn’t cocaine; so, it obviously had to be some other hardcore, illegal street drug.

Methamphetamine. That was the next theory: The Sigma Nu house was actually a meth lab. This one definitely fits better than the cocaine idea, but only because the signs of methamphetamine use are not exactly odd symptoms for a college student to exhibit. Some of the side effects include decreased fatigue, hyper-focus, trembling, and increased heart rate; it essentially has the same effects as caffeine but at a level so dangerous that death is a very serious potential outcome. It still seemed a little outrageous though. How could an entire fraternity keep such a massive drug operation secret for so long?

Apparently though, drugs and alcohol weren’t exciting enough because, yet another rumor popped up to explain the mystery of the Sigma Nu house. Someone filled the school with panic by spreading the idea that the house was removed because one of the members was murdered in the basement. Now there is some controversy as to whether or not it was a Sigma Nu member, or a member of a different frat, but either way, murder was on the table.

The truth is far from entertaining though. Fraternities and sororities are required to maintain a certain number of members in order to keep their house; Sigma Nu simply had too few members and their house became Aspen Hall. Not nearly as interesting, right? There’s no doubt that even with this information the ridiculous theories will continue, I mean no one wants to tell a boring story. That’s how rumors start in the first place. They are meant to add drama to flavorless pieces and engage your audience who in turn tells it again with even more outlandish details until a simple lack of members turns into an underground drug den murder.



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