Since 2006, nine Sigma Alpha Epsilon brothers have died during fraternity related deaths. Eight of those people were pledges.
In a unanimous vote from the SAE Supreme Council to avoid incidences such as these, Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s council has made a change in their new-member programming that makes “The True Gentlman Experience” a pledge-free process as of March 9.
According to their member education program, “The concept of pledging, pledge periods and pledge education become a part of Sigma Alpha Epsilon in the early 1900s after World War I. Gone were the days of agreeing that someone is a good man, asking him to join, promptly initiating him and calling him a brother.
“Replacing this simple concept of friendship – upon which we were founded, seeking those men whose character contained the ‘social qualities so necessary to the perpetuation of the most intimate friendship’ – was now an institutionalized system of haves and have-nots, of second-class citizenship,” stated the website.
Western Carolina University SAE chapter President Cody Dunlap, said, “From our standpoint, looking at eliminating a second class citizen status, and in some instances it’s a big to-do with hazing and trying to get away from that because it’s one of the big things associated with Greek life and just make it so that those instances don’t happen.”
Other Greek organizations that have banned the pledging process are Alpha Gamma Rho, Zeta Beta Tau, Sigma Phi Epsilon and, in 1972, Lambda Chi Alpha, according to the SAE website, though the only one of those with a chapter on WCU’s campus is Lambda Chi Alpha.
However, this does not mean that their new members will lose the educational period that generally goes along with pledging, Dunlap said, “The way it’s been set up is we’re still going to have our ability to rush and recruit new guys, but what is going to happen once we extend them a bid, a bid being a membership to the organization. “There’s going to be four days of orientation materials where guys come down, and it’s a more in depth time of educational – this is what you’re getting involved in it hits on aspects of finances, the involvement, the time commitment and everything like that.
“After that 96-hour period, they’re initiated as full members, full brothers. And following that is where the education process kicks in,” said Dunlap.
Pledging was previously an eight week period which has now been reduced to a 96-hour period before becoming a member.
SAE’s creed is that of “The True Gentleman” which reads, “The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others, rather than his own; and who appears well in any company, a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe.”
Dunlap thinks that ending the pledging process will be good for the fraternities image with professionals and campus administrators.
He said, “I think it’s going help us more than anything. I feel like it’s going to get the guys that really want it to come down and understand and talk about it.
“We won’t have pledges, but we will have new members, and a big thing that people worry about is hazing, if that’s something they don’t have to worry about, it’s going to open up a lot more doors for everybody else,” said Dunlap.
For students interested in learning more about why SAE made this decision, there is a very informative news release and question-answer section that should help them at www.sae.net/home/pages/news/news—news-from-hq—historic-change-on-founders-day.