Fraternity implements alternative initiation process

The eight to 10-week pledge period for aspiring members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) Fraternity was cut short.

The UM chapter initiated members Wednesday, which is a few weeks earlier than the scheduled date because of a new mandate. On March 7, SAE’s national branch announced the decision to eliminate the eight-week pledge period, requiring all chapters to initiate potential members immediately.

Those interested in joining a fraternity must go through recruitment to earn a bid, which confirms the fraternity’s interest in him.

Potential members then begin the pledging process, an eight to 10-week period when they learn about the fraternity’s history and the brothers themselves.

SAE will replace this pledge period with “The True Gentleman Experience,” a new program that emphasizes a holistic learning experience that spans new members’ time in college rather than the condensed, eight-week period.

“The goal is to help to address some of the issues that face not only our fraternity, but all fraternities,” said Brandon Weghorst, associate executive director of communication of the national organization. “‘The True Gentleman Experience’ rethinks the educational experience for undergraduate students.”

According to an article published online by Bloomberg News, hazing was one of the reasons for reaching this decision.

Hazing is a national problem for all fraternities and not just in SAE. Many instances of hazing occur during the pledging process.

This action, in part, hopes to lessen those issues and reform the viewpoints some hold of Greek life and SAE, which was named “the deadliest U.S. fraternity,” Bloomberg News reported.

SAE identifies itself as a non-hazing fraternity. According to Brad Bradshaw, SAE brother and Interfraternity Council president, UM’s chapter has not had issues with hazing since their official reinstatement on campus in 2004.

SAE recolonized its chapter at UM in 2001 and later received its charter in 2004.

Steven Priepke, who is the assistant dean of students and director of Greek life, said that he thinks the policy change is a positive one that UM’s SAE chapter will take in stride.

“Obviously, it has an operational impact on the chapter here,” said Priepke, who helped reestablish the UM chapter in 2001. “I don’t see that it has a huge impact in terms of the quality of the chapter or really their ability to build a great brotherhood.”

“The True Gentleman Experience” is comprised of three parts. The first year is focused on loyalty, the second two on friendship, and the final year on honor.

Bradshaw added that these pillars not only introduce students to SAE but also “how Greek life works.”

Bradshaw, like Priepke, does not believe that “The True Gentleman Experience” will impact the fraternity in any major way.

“In regards to our chapter I don’t see it making a huge change in the way we select our new members, the way that we grow, and the way that we operate,” Bradshaw said.

According to Bradshaw, a fraternity’s education involves life skills as well as knowledge of the organization. These skills include learning to properly shake someone’s hand, tie a tie and network.

“There’s resources on campus that provide these,” Bradshaw said. “But sometimes those messages are better coming from your peers, from your colleagues, and that’s one of the things that fraternities help to facilitate.”

SAE is not the only fraternity on campus to make such a change. The Sigma Phi Epsilon and Zeta Beta Tau fraternities have also eliminated the pledge period, Bradshaw said.