Fraternity ends the pledging process

by Rebecca Fiore / Beacon Staff • March 13, 2014

John King is the president of Emerson's chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
John King is the president of Emerson's chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

On Sunday, fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon, or SAE, celebrated its 158th year as an organization, not with a bang, but by banning its traditional pledging process. The nationwide association will no longer be a part of the traditional Greek life recruiting system, according to the official SAE website.

Although that website says all uninitiated members must be admitted by March 11, Emerson’s chapter will continue its spring pledging, said John King, the president of Emerson’s SAE chapter. Four brothers are currently in the process, he said, and Emerson’s chapter got an exemption because the new policy was instituted during Emerson’s spring break.

“We have been pressured to initiate all of our pledges. This one is going to be very, very brief, and ultimately initiation is very close,” said King, a senior journalism major. 

The national SAE board administered a ban on the pledging process — a procedure students go through to become members of a fraternity or sorority — which started March 9, after being named the most dangerous fraternity in the nation by Bloomberg News. 

For nearly two centuries, Greek organizations have been known for humorous and sometimes harsh rituals. Bloomberg News reported that there have been up to 10 deaths due to pledging SAE in the past few years. 

The process used to last six to eight weeks for all chapters. Under the new protocol, prospective members will only undergo a four-day bid prior to initiation, according to Zach Anderson, vice president of Emerson’s SAE chapter.

Jason Meier, director of student activities, said he believes it is hard to control the practices of SAE’s various nationwide chapters, but at Emerson, there have been no problems since he joined the college in January 2011.

“There has been nothing that has warranted a trip to the conduct board,” he said. “I feel that SAE as a national organization has really struggled.”

King said SAE chapters that haze as a part of the pledging process do not represent the fraternity properly.

“Sadly, the misdeeds of the few outweigh the good deeds of the many when it comes to our organization,” he said.

This semester’s pledging process is similar to that of previous years, according to King. Pledging mostly deals with learning the fraternity’s history, and getting to know fellow brothers of Emerson’s chapter, he said. Each new pledge group receives a 13-chapter book, The Phoenix, written by the national organization, which details what it says students need to know to be worthy of being “a true gentleman,” said King. 

“We are told to memorize certain materials in it,” he said. “It has the Greek alphabet, table settings, alumni, and how to tie a tie.”

King said Emerson’s SAE chapter will not pledge anymore after this semester, as required by the national organization. He said if any chapter continues the initiation process, it will be shut down immediately.

“[The new rule] is only going to make SAE stronger. It more coincides with our core ideologies,” said King. “We are all brothers.”

King said he doesn’t see a problem with ending pledging. 

“We are essentially guys. We have been pushing for this, with as little separation between brothers and pledges as possible,” said King.

Anderson said while he doesn’t agree with the abolishment of pledging entirely, he does believe more Greek organizations nationwide will follow SAE’s lead. 

“I don’t think that the change is necessarily a bad thing,” said the junior visual and media arts major. “I think the way that our nation is going, more fraternities will adopt this new institution.”

 

Deputy news editor Hunter Harris did not edit this story because she is a member of Kappa Gamma Chi. 

Photo editor Evan Walsh did not edit the photo because he is a member of Phi Alpha Tau.