Sigma Alpha Epsilon bans pledging
University chapter to comply
“I think that dangerous hazing is often molded into this new member education process — so by eliminating the process itself, you are removing a major instrument of the hazing.” — Inter-Fraternity Council President Tommy Reid
Sigma Alpha Epsilon, named the “deadliest” fraternity by Bloomberg News, has decided to eliminate the pledging process for all chapters across the nation.
According to the SAE national website, the change was not purely a result of media pressure, but comes following a number of deaths within the fraternity and forced closures due to hazing.
“If there is actual evidence that [hazing] did happen, then it is a good idea,” said fourth-year College student Saul Brodsky, president of the University’s Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity chapter.
Following the March 9 edict by Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s national governing board, all chapters had 48 hours to initiate new members, or by March 11 at the latest.
Going forward, the fraternity will begin what has been termed a “True Gentlemen Experience,” which requires new members be initiated as brothers within 96 hours of receiving bids. Chapter members across all years will now participate in member education programs in light of the pledge-education program’s removal.
With the act of pledging removed from the new membership process, the term “pledge” will also be eliminated. New members are to be regarded as and treated like any other member of the chapter, and in time, members should see a reduction in the health-and-safety fee.
Brodsky believes taking pledging out of the fraternity experience, however, will ultimately be detrimental to chapters, saying the process offers a way to gauge people’s commitment when joining a fraternity.
“I think if you’re joining any organization, you have to go through some sort of probationary period,” Brodsky said.
The SAE’s national board, the Supreme Council, expects there to be some resistance to the change, but hopes the presidents of individual chapters will support the decision and encourage the rest of the chapter to do so as well. One brother from the University’s SAE chapter, who wished to remain anonymous, said the chapter is complying with all national changes.
Major concerns about the change revolve around the loss of tradition. When the SAE national board answered some of the bigger questions about the True Gentlemen Experience, this was largely played down.
“We believe in good traditions, not ones that fail to reflect and burnish our overarching mission, values and creed,” the statement read.
Ultimately, SAE nationals agreed the possible dangers attributed to hazing can outweigh the perceived benefits of the new member education process. Third-year College student Tommy Reid, the Inter-Fraternity Council president, said the two are inherently linked.
“I think that dangerous hazing is often molded into this new member education process — so by eliminating the process itself, you are removing a major instrument of the hazing,” Reid said.
As of now, the Supreme Council is not recommending any additional changes to chapter structure, though they have stated chapters will be shut down if it is found new members are being treated like “second-class citizens.”
“While I fully believe the new member education process can be very positive, I understand that the process has been pretty wildly exaggerated and put to negative affect across the country,” Reid said.
Skepticism remains as to whether eliminating this process will actually reduce or eliminate hazing completely. Brodsky said bigger institutional problems mean this may not be a long-term solution for SAE.
“It seems like an easy way to pass the buck and pull the hood over the frats,” Brodsky said. “You don’t have to worry about fixing programs and problems.”
Brodsky said the national attention SAE’s policy change has received has placed pressure on all fraternities.
“This brings heat on everybody when they do stuff like this,” Brodsky said. “No one is trying to break the law.”
Reid agreed the SAE decision may lead to changes down the line for other fraternities.
“I would imagine that other national organizations will pursue a similar process,” he said. “I think that fraternity new member education has strayed from what its core intentions are.”