NPHC break-ins under investigation


Gabrielle Korein

Paige Magee, secretary of Loyola’s National Pan-Hellenic Council, stands in front of the group’s ransacked closet. The break-in’s investigation is still ongoing.

Gabriella Killett, Managing Editor for Print

Paige Magee went downstairs in the Danna Center at Loyola Jan. 31 to check on the university’s closet belonging to Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and she walked down the hallway to find a horrible surprise.

Magee, who is the secretary of Loyola’s National Pan-Hellenic Council, passed the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. closet, and the door was slung open. And when she got to her historically Black sorority’s closets, one was wide open, and the other was unlocked, even though she remembered locking them both shut just before Christmas break.

Her sorority’s photo books were the first thing she noticed – messily strewn on the ground. Boxes were toppled over. Someone had gone through the organization’s ritual books. The cabinets were pushed out of place.

“I immediately stood back because I was so in shock that the photo albums were on the floor,” Magee said. “I stood there for at least 10 to 15 minutes just in awe.”

Magee said the break-in was especially alarming at the beginning of Black History Month, considering that the National Pan-Hellenic Council is home to historically Black fraternities and sororities. Her discovery prompted an investigation ongoing by the Loyola University Police Department, according to NPHC President Destiny Sanders.

The crests of Pi Kappa Phi and FIJI, both part of the Interfraternity Council, which is home to predominantly White fraternities, were plastered on the outside of the doors of the vandalized closets.

“It’s like the audacity of someone to do something,” Magee said. “You’d think someone would do unto you as you do unto others, but that’s just not the case nowadays.”

Christian Trastoy, president of FIJI, said he strongly believes his organization was framed for the crime. He said that the sign of his fraternity’s crest that was found at the scene was laminated and that the organization hasn’t laminated anything for years.

President of Pi Kappa Phi, Colin Richards, had similar sentiments. He said that the crest found on the NPHC door was originally on his fraternity’s closet door.

“Anyone could’ve taken it off the door and put it in there,” Richards said. “Our chapter has had no part in these events.”

Soon after Magee discovered the vandalism, Sanders got a text from her advisor asking for the phone numbers of some of the chapter presidents.

Sanders’ advisor and associate director of student life, Sydney Begoun, said she notified the chapter presidents and eventually the Loyola police department about the sequence of events and planned a meeting for everyone to attend soon after the break-ins occurred.

“We want to definitely have justice for the closets that were broken into and ensure that this doesn’t happen in the future,” Begoun said. “LUPD is working as fast as they can.”

Begoun said the police are currently reviewing camera footage as a part of their investigation. She is also working with the police department to schedule another meeting for next week, the week of Feb. 20, to update members of NPHC on the investigation.

LUPD Police Chief Todd Warren said the investigation is ongoing and that the department is taking it “very seriously.”

“I know answers can’t come immediately, but it’s just very upsetting for something like this to happen because you just feel violated,” Sanders said.

Sanders said she is also hurt by the fraternities whose crests were found at the scene because they haven’t yet addressed the situation, and she’s concerned about their lack of participation.

“Personally, if it was me and that happened, and I know I didn’t do it, and I talked to my members, and no one confessed, I would apologize,” Sanders said.

Trastoy encouraged NPHC to reach out to his organization because he said the situation is difficult for him and his fellow members as well.

“It’s hurting us because it’s looking like we’ve been framed,” Trastoy said. “ Please talk to us.”

Trastoy also admitted that he should have sent out a notice and been in touch with Sanders already but said that it’s been “a very long few weeks.”

Sanders said a lot of things in both closets were either destroyed or ruined. Though the organizations haven’t found anything missing, she said the scars of the vandalism run deeper than broken items or stolen things.

“It makes me feel targeted,” Sanders said.

Robert Morrison, the treasurer of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. said his organization is currently going through the items to check for damages and anything that might be missing. Morrison said his fraternity is working with the police department at Loyola to figure out what happened.

“We are devastated that someone took their time to go through our closet, which is filled with items that date back nearly 20 years,” Morrison said.

The organizations were each asked to create lists of who could have a key to the organization closets, and moving forward, Sanders said the closets would be monitored more closely.

But Sanders said that the violation is especially difficult because each organization hopes to keep its property private. Every fraternity or sorority has decades-old pictures, books, and paperwork that have been saved from when each chapter was chartered years ago. The mementos are sacred for the National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations, she said.

“That’s not something that anyone who’s not a part of our organization or a part of our chapter should see,” Sanders said.