Sigma Pi’s black 3 foot x 5 foot fraternity banner was stolen by sophomore fine arts major Christopher Watson from the Brower Student Center, after hours, on April 6.
Watson said the theft was in retaliation to a pizza theft that occurred in Cromwell Hall earlier that evening.
According to Watson, members of Sigma Pi were holding a weekly meeting in the main lounge of Cromwell when he had a pizza delivered to his residence hall.
When he arrived, the delivery man left the pizza on a table near the main lounge for a minute while he went into the men’s bathroom.
When Watson came to pay for his food, he and the delivery man found both the pizza and the delivery bag missing.
During that time, Watson said that a Sigma Pi meeting had adjourned. Upon further investigation, he found the delivery bag outside the Cromwell main entrance. The pizza had been eaten and Watson assumed brothers of Sigma Pi had eaten it.
According to the Cromwell Hall office, Sigma Pi has the main lounge reserved every Sunday from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
In retaliation, Watson walked into the student center and remained hidden in a conference room until after the building had closed. He then stacked tables and used a makeshift pole to tear the banner from its spot on the wall.
Afterwards, he took pictures of himself with the banner and posted them on his Web site, which lead to his conviction. On the Web site, Watson posted his version of the story, along with pictures of himself holding the banner. According to a post on Watson’s Web site, he said he would return the banner if the brothers of Sigma Pi return his pizza with a signed letter of apology.
“I just wanted Sig Pi to give me back my pizza and an apology,” Watson said.
Sigma Pi fraternity president Mike Rieker received the link to Watson’s Web site through another brother. Rieker and another brother went to Watson’s room in Cromwell Hall to get the banner back, without the intention of appeasing to the Web site’s request pizza and an apology.
Watson was not in his dorm room at the time, so Rieker left without confronting him.
“As far as I know, no one from my fraternity stole any pizza,” Rieker said. “What I do know is that this whole incident has been blown out of proportion.”
“Handling the matter peacefully was our main objective and police involvement was the last thing we wanted,” Rieker added.
“Somehow, the police found out before we talked to him,” Rieker said. “Sigma Pi did not contact the police. However, since the police did get involved, what happens to the kid is all up to them.”
According to Ray Nesci, professional services specialist for Campus Police, “Information from Sigma Pi is not available yet,” which confirms that Sigma Pi did not file a complaint with Campus Police.
“I figured I would deal with Sigma Pi itself,” Watson said. “I didn’t intend for this to happen. I didn’t need to be cheered on and I wasn’t concerned with what others thought of it.”
“I know the reason they are most upset is because I stayed in the building after hours,” Watson added.
“The fact that he remained after closing has resulted in the trespassing charge,” Nesci said.
According to Nesci, Watson has been charged with theft and tresspassing. He has a hearing with the Ewing Municipal Court which has been postponed until further notice, where the court will decide his punishment.
Watson also has to face the College’s judicial board, which will enforce its own punishment. The College’s punishment could be on one of four levels: a written warning, probation, removal with held obeyance or removal from campus housing.
As a result of this incident, the Brower Student Center is working with Campus Police to ensure that the building will be secure in the future.
“Really we’re going back to the drawing board to security of the building during the later hours and that would include our staff, Campus Police and security,” Mike Puccio, manager of the Brower Student Center and quality assurance, said.
“We are also looking to upgrade the overall security system in the building that includes security camera’s and an alarm system,” he added.