SAE handles hazing problems, improves

After dealing with the fraternity’s second hazing incident in two semesters, Sigma Alpha Epsilon president John Athon said he knew it was time for a change.The second incident involved SAE pledge trainers yelling at pledges during fall Recruitment, Athon said.

“It was a straw that broke the camel’s back,” Athon said. “It was time to fix the problem from a different direction.”

At the time, Athon said SAE wasn’t aware raising voices at pledges was considered hazing. Regardless, Athon said he did not approve of their actions.

“It was conduct unbecoming of SAE,” Athon said, “or any TCU student.”

Soon after the incident, the SAE’s national office contacted Athon to improve the chapter.

“They told us we’d made an improvement from last year, but there was still more to be done,” Athon said. “They said, ‘You’ve gone this far, now keep going,”

The national office appointed six SAE alumni, called an alumni commission, to act as advisers to the fraternity over the course of the fall, said Brandon Weghorst, director of communications for SAE’s national office.

While controlled by an alumni commission, a chapter cannot make any governing decisions without the consent of the advisers.

“Under an alumni commission, we’ve taken away their right to govern themselves,” Weghorst said.

Chapters are evaluated on 12 areas, including risk management and pledge education, before reinstatement, Weghorst said.

SAE will probably remain under alumni commission until the end of the year, Weghorst said.

Athon said the advisers did everything from attending chapter meetings to talking with SAE officers about improving the chapter.

“They’ve encouraged accountability among our brotherhood,” Athon said. “If someone causes a problem, we let them know it’s not all right.”

Chaplain John Stauffer agreed that renewed accountability among fraternity brothers was the first step in fixing SAE’s problems.

“We drastically changed our direction,” said Stauffer, a junior finance major. “We’ve taken the initiative to be our own problem solvers.”

Other changes the alumni suggested were a stricter judicial board and a new pledge program, Stauffer said.

“We’ve focused on stronger enforcement,” Stauffer said, “and holding people accountable for their actions.”

SAE will be on probation until spring 2007, stemming from an incident during the fall 2005 semester. At the time of the investigation, TCU officials did not release specifics on the incident, but current president Athon said Wednesday the incident involved physical hazing that led to the removal of an SAE member.

Athon said he is glad SAE has been allowed to deal with the problem internally.

“We’re in control of our own destiny,” Athon said. “They allowed us to fix the problem.