These are sample cases from Wikipedia of SAE hazing deaths.
|November 17, 2006||Tyler Cross||Sigma Alpha Epsilon||University of Texas at Austin||Investigators say Cross fell from a fifth-floor balcony as a result of being highly intoxicated. .|
|December 2, 2008||Carson Starkey||Sigma Alpha Epsilon||California Polytechnic State University||Starkey died of alcohol poisoning. .|
|February 25, 2011||George Desdunes||Sigma Alpha Epsilon||Cornell University||Desdunes died of alcohol poisoning. .|
I was able to find some history on this fraternity by clicking on their official website and here are some excerpts:
“Sigma Alpha Epsilon was founded on March 9, 1856, at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Its founders were Noble Leslie DeVotie, Nathan Elams Cockrell, John Barratt Rudulph, John Webb Kerr, Samuel Marion Dennis, Wade Hampton Foster, Abner Edwin Patton, and Thomas Chappell Cook. Their leader was DeVotie, who wrote the ritual, created the grip, and chose the name. Rudulph designed the badge. Of all existing national social fraternities today, Sigma Alpha Epsilon is the only national fraternity founded in the antebellum South.”
“By the time of the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, fifteen chapters had been established. The fraternity had fewer than 400 members when the Civil War began. Of those, 369 went to war for the Confederate States and seven for the Union Army. Seventy-four members of the fraternity lost their lives in the war. After the Civil War, only one chapter survived – at tiny Columbian College (which is now George Washington University) in Washington D.C.”
“When a few of the young veterans returned to the Georgia Military Institution and found their college burned to the ground, they decided to enter the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. The founding of a chapter there at the end of 1865, along with the re-establishment of the chapter at the University of Virginia, led to the fraternity’s revival. Soon, other chapters came back to life and, in 1867, the first post-war convention was held at Nashville, Tennessee, where a half-dozen revived chapters planned the fraternity’s future growth.”
On February 22, 1927, the fraternity’s Supreme Council decided to name the new national headquarters building The Levere Memorial Temple. Construction of the Temple, an immense German Gothic structure located near Lake Michigan and across from the Northwestern University campus, was started in 1929, and the building was dedicated in the winter of 1930.
According to a 12/30/13 Bloomberg Business exposeDavid Glovin and John Hechinger, the SAE fraternity has highest number of deaths due to hazing during pledge season of all the universities/colleges. Also, this fraternity has a long history for racism which will be detailed in my next blog. The excerpts are as follows:
” On a chilly March night, Sigma Alpha Epsilon brothers ordered Justin Stuart to recite the fraternity’s creed.”
“The true gentleman,” said the 19-year-old freshman, shivering in the backyard, “is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies.”
“It wasn’t easy to get the words out. Stuart was naked, except for his underwear, and standing in a trash can filled waist-deep with ice. Fraternity members sprayed him with a hose and poured buckets of water over his head. Convinced that SAE would bring him social success in college and then a Wall Street job, the lanky recruit from suburban Maryland endured the abuse.”
“During an eight-week initiation in 2012, SAE brothers at Salisbury University in Maryland beat Stuart with a paddle, forced pledges to drink until they almost passed out and dressed them in women’s clothing and diapers, Stuart said. Fraternity members confined recruits for as long as nine hours in a dark basement without food, water or a bathroom, while blasting the same German rock song at ear-splitting volume, according to Stuart, another former pledge, and the findings of the university’s disciplinary board.”
“Defying the fraternity code of secrecy, Stuart offered a rare first-person account of hazing at Sigma Alpha Epsilon, one of the largest and best-known fraternities in the U.S. — and the deadliest. His ordeal prompted Salisbury to suspend the chapter through the spring of 2014. Stuart’s story and Salisbury’s investigation and findings have never been made public.”
“The university’s disciplinary board determined that the facts supported Stuart’s “alarming” account and that the chapter violated Salisbury policies on alcohol, hazing, and threats or acts of violence, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg News under an open-records request.”
“The actions of the members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity put the members of the pledge class in harm’s way both physically and emotionally,” the board found.”
“The Salisbury episode also shows how difficult it is for colleges to prevent hazing, and the extent to which alumni protect their fraternities. Investment executive J. Michael Scarborough, a founder of Salisbury’s SAE chapter, was so upset over its suspension that he withdrew a $2 million donation to the university.”
“Risking alumni wrath, universities have disciplined more than 100 Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapters since 2007, some repeatedly, according to a list published on the organization’s website as a result of a legal settlement. Colleges suspended or closed at least 15 SAE chapters in the past three years(2010-2013). SAE has had nine deaths related to drinking, drugs and hazing since 2006, more than any other Greek organization, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In 2011, a sophomore (Black) pre-medical student at Cornell University, George Desdunes died from alcohol poisoning after being blindfolded and kidnapped by SAE members in an induction ritual.
Reflecting SAE’s casualty rate, student members pay among the highest rates for liability insurance of any fraternity. Yet SAE has twice voted down a proposal to restrict their access to alcohol — a measure another national fraternity credits with preventing injuries and deaths. SAE chapters need to protect students by increasing adult supervision, said Richard Shanahan, who serves as a volunteer liaison between its houses and alumni in Washington and Virginia.
Fraternities have blocked efforts by legislators and academic leaders to curb hazing, drinking and other misbehavior. Their political action committee, known as FratPAC, helped convince Frederica Wilson, a U.S. Representative from Florida, not to introduce an anti-hazing bill in Congress.
Their trade group, the Indianapolis-based North-American Interfraternity Conference, has opposed proposals at dozens of colleges to postpone rushing of freshmen, who account for about 40 percent of fraternity-related deaths.
Fraternity alumni, including major donors to universities, often oppose restrictions on Greek life. After the president and trustees of Trinity College in Hartford proposed making fraternities co-educational, Greek alumni withheld donations to the school. In May, Trinity president James Jones moved up his departure date by a year.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon has an influential alumni network and a colorful history. Its gothic-style headquarters in Evanston, Illinois features priceless Tiffany stained glass and a painting of U.S. President William McKinley — an illustrious SAE alumnus, along with organized crime fighter Eliot Ness and novelist William Faulkner.
LinkedIn, a networking website for professionals, lists almost 3,000 SAE alumni in finance, more than any other industry. When Jeff Librot, a former head of the University of Delaware’s SAE chapter, applied for a Bank of Montreal equities internship, a banker there sent him an e-mail with SAE’s secret motto, “Phi Alpha.” Librot was selected.
Among SAE’s Wall Street luminaries are T. Boone Pickens, the Texas oilman-turned-investor, and hedge fund managers David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital and Paul Tudor Jones of Tudor Investment Corp. Einhorn and Jones declined to comment.
Excessive drinking “and other dangerous traditions, continue, year after year” due to “SAE’s flawed oversight and management of chapter and member activities,” the lawsuit said.
Members of fraternities typically pay for liability insurance to cover accidents and other mishaps. Because of SAE’s history, its members pay a base fee of $340, which can increase or decrease depending on each chapter’s record. That’s among the highest rates of any fraternity, according to Douglas Fierberg, the Washington attorney who sued SAE in the Starkey case, and current and former Greek officials.
SAE’s leaders took notice. Both in 2011 and this year, they considered banning alcohol from chapter houses, inviting a representative of Phi Delta Theta to make the case at one of its biennial conventions.
“If you look at some of those tragic incidents, it certainly might help” to ban alcohol at houses, said Ginocchio, the SAE general counsel who made the proposal. Though a majority supported the plan, it failed to receive the necessary two-thirds vote of students and alumni as opponents argued that it would drive drinking underground.
In its statement, the SAE national said it mandates alcohol-free housing for chapters that violate “stringent regulations” on drinking. SAE lists on its website 29 chapters that ban alcohol in chapter houses, some because of past violations and others because their campuses are dry. The fraternity said it provides anti-hazing training to members, sponsors a hotline and tests them on its rules.
“Stuart envisioned a career in finance, and SAE’s prestige as a Wall Street pipeline attracted him. He rushed SAE in February 2012 and was summoned to a coveted interview at the Scarborough Student Leadership Center, the Greek life hub named after the SAE chapter founder. During a videotaped appearance, Stuart stood before fraternity brothers, who asked about his major, his grade-point-average and why he wanted to join.”
“After getting his pledge invitation, Stuart visited the student affairs office to sign a university document. It noted that hazing violated school policy and is, under Maryland law, a misdemeanor, punishable by as much as six months in prison and a $500 fine. “Consent of a student is not a defense,” it said.”
“Stuart took comfort in this policy, until his pledging began. About 4 p.m. on a Thursday in February, Stuart and about nine other pledges began their eight-week initiation. SAE doesn’t have an official chapter house, so brothers drove the recruits from the Scarborough Center to a brown, wood-shingled home on West Locust Street, about a mile from the university.”
“William Espinoza — a senior, who, like Stuart, was a former high school lacrosse player from Montgomery County — acted as “pledge educator.” He held out a baseball cap, asking pledges to deposit their mobile phones and wallets, Stuart said.”
“Espinoza led pledges to the basement, its windows covered with blankets and old clothes, according to Stuart. In an endless loop, punctuated by a few seconds of silence, a speaker blasted Du Hast, a German metal song by the group Rammstein, said Stuart and Max Kellner, another former recruit, a marketing major from the Baltimore suburbs. The song’s title is a pun on German words that can mean both “have” and “hate.”
“They justified it — that we all went through this when we pledged,” said Kellner, 23, now a senior at Towson University in Maryland. “It was rough. It was very, very anxious in the basement. You felt like you couldn’t leave.”
“In the early morning, members led the pledges upstairs, one by one, blindfolded, to the house’s second floor, Kellner said. There, pledges kneeled before a table where Espinoza and Sam Kaubin, the chapter president, sat with six candles and a fraternity flag, according to Stuart. The recruits learned the secret SAE handshake, with interlocking pinkies.”
“Afterward, pledges were each ordered to chug a pitcher of beer, Stuart and Kellner said. Stuart was then taken to another house, where, urged on by SAE members, he downed seven or eight drinks and a liquor mix called “jungle juice,” he said.”
“I had never been that drunk before,” said Stuart, who hadn’t eaten for 10 hours.
“Every Tuesday evening, SAE held pledge classes in a science hall. Brothers covered a window with white paper, Stuart and Kellner said. As they tried to learn SAE history, members yelled insults at pledges, including gay slurs, Stuart told police.”
“Stuart considered leaving but decided against it. Members assured him that they had all gone through the same crucible and the worst was over. He was about to enjoy the benefits of SAE membership, such as entrée to parties where freshmen could meet sorority women and access to Wall Street and Fortune 500 companies.”
“He worried that, if he left, he would end up shunned and alone. “You feel like you have so much to lose — it’s worth staying,” he said. “I thought it would pay off in the end.”
“On weekends, the pledges were on call to “sober drive” drunken brothers until as late as 4 a.m., Stuart said. After parties, the fraternity required pledges to clean members’ houses, according to Stuart and text messages. On the fifth or sixth week, Stuart and other pledges were ordered to stand in the trashcans filled with ice, he said.”
“If you don’t drink this, you’re out,” members told pledges at the party, handing them more liquor, according to Stuart. He figured he had 10 drinks, fewer than some others.”
“Guys should have gone to the hospital,” Stuart said. “One guy was dry heaving for hours. One guy was vomiting blood. It was the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done.”
Walbrecher, the pledge who had earlier warned about drinking, was especially graphic: “I woke up in throw up and with a black eye and my knuckles were all bruised and I was limping.”
After family night, Stuart decided to quit SAE and alert authorities. His desire to protect pledges from harm outweighed his fear of retaliation from fraternity members, he said.
On Friday, March 16, he sent an anonymous e-mail about hazing to the campus police’s “silent witness” website. The school tried unsuccessfully to find out who sent the report, documents show.
Stuart looked up news accounts about Cornell and other schools where students died because of hazing. In May, he sent another report to the “silent witness” website.
“I was hazed by the SAE (Sigma Alpha Epsilon) fraternity this past semester,” he wrote. “It was completely disgusting and you schools should step up your regulation of this.”
Though his e-mail was anonymous, the campus police tracked him down. At home for summer vacation, Stuart told his story by phone.
“I perceived him to be credible and truthful,” Salisbury University Police Lt. Brian Waller wrote in his report. In June, Waller referred the matter to the city police department, which has jurisdiction off-campus.
Kellner, the recruit who corroborated Stuart’s account of abuse in the basement, said he appeared before the board too. In all, Salisbury held 13 hours of hearings over three days, said Dane Foust, the school’s vice president of student affairs.
Stuart had been promised confidentiality, but his name had leaked out, his father said. On Sept. 28, Hal Stuart wrote to Salisbury University President Janet Dudley-Eshbach, lamenting the toll the investigation was taking on his son.
‘‘He essentially has been blackballed from any social life, eats his meals alone and is miserable,” Hal Stuart said. “I commend his courage for even coming back this semester.”
The board determined in October that the evidence supported Stuart’s allegations. Among “relevant facts” it established were that pledges were “made to get into a bin of ice and required to recite organizational information,” and they were “kept in a basement on several occasions,” blindfolded, yelled at and “made to drink.”
In November 2012, the university suspended SAE through the spring of 2014, removing its recognition as a student organization and barring it from campus. It will then be on probation for another year. A handful of students were also disciplined, Grisser said.
UPDATE: On the evening of 3/11/15, the CNN evening news announced that the racist chant sung by SAE members has been taught to their members for years.