Despite igniting national headlines for alleged racism last fall, Yale’s chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity attracted more potential members this rush season than it did the year before.
Last semester, the chapter found itself under intense scrutiny after students accused its brothers of hosting a “white girls only” party the weekend of Halloween. An administrative investigation ultimately concluded that there was “no evidence of systematic discrimination” by SAE brothers but found that brothers had at times behaved “disrespectfully and aggressively toward students seeking admission” to the party, according to a collegewide email from Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway. Still, over the course of the semester, many students criticized SAE and said it had long displayed discriminatory behavior toward minorities.
Despite these controversies, interest in the fraternity has increased. Yale SAE President Grant Mueller ’17 said the number of potential rushes this spring has grown to around 60, from roughly 40 last year. The fraternity ultimately issued 19 bids last year, he said.
“I can’t attest to how the controversy affected this rush class specifically, but we have previously had, and still have, a diverse group of brothers,” Mueller said. “During this process, we’d like to emphasize that and want to establish this class to be as diverse as previous ones.”
Luc Ryan-Schreiber ’17, a brother of SAE who is serving as the chapter’s inaugural diversity chair — a position created in December in response to the campus outrage — said much of his new position involves being a resource to potential brothers seeking to learn about SAE’s culture.
He added that, as a gay brother, he is able to talk and relate to other potential members of the same orientation. He is also available to direct rushes to other brothers if they want to converse with people of different cultures.
“I have already spoken to several individual rushes with questions about being in SAE and what it’s like coming from different backgrounds,” Ryan-Schreiber said.
When the fraternity has a new incoming class, Ryan-Schreiber said, he will give a presentation about diversity and the values the group holds. He will emphasize that the brothers need to be respectful of everyone, regardless of background, orientation or religion.
The number of individuals rushing other fraternities has also increased. Fraternities plan to hand out bids in the next few weeks.
Sigma Chi has seen an increase in the number of rushes compared to past years. Alpha Epsilon Pi President David Ribot ’17 said the number of students rushing his fraternity has increased as well. Sigma Phi Epsilon President Amin Mirzadegan ’17 also said his fraternity’s numbers are largely similar to last year’s, if not slightly higher.
Similarly, former President of Chi Psi Taylor Rogers ’17 said that this year the fraternity has “a much bigger rush list” than before. Chi Psi’s rush process has not changed since the events that took place on campus last semester, and the number of bids — which are scheduled to go out in about two weeks — will depend on the ultimate number of rushes.
SAE generally holds two rounds of rush each year, one in the fall for sophomores and another in the spring for freshmen and sophomores, Mueller said.