Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which is one of the nation’s largest fraternities, has eliminated the pledging and initiation processes for its new members.
The national fraternity announced in a press release that its removal of these new-membership programs is partially a result of bad publicity that the organization has received due to “a number of incidents and deaths” and the closing of chapters due to hazing. According to Bloomberg, at least ten deaths have been linked to hazing, alcohol and drug use at SAE events — a sizable portion of the 60 fraternity-related deaths documented since 2005.
A new program called “The True Gentleman Experience” will replace the pledgeship process. According to the national fraternity, the program will be a holistic educational period, during which members will learn more about the fraternity and its principles. The fraternity’s statement acknowledges that the shift away from traditional pledgeship procedures toward “The True Gentleman Experience” will be difficult but emphasizes that positive change will ultimately come out of the transition.
“This change will strengthen our Fraternity, create highly positive opportunities to redefine membership, attract prospective members who otherwise might not join and lead the way among Greek-letter organizations as we recommit ourselves to our Founding Fathers’ original concepts,” the statement reads.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon was founded in 1856 at the University of Alabama.