Sigma Alpha Epsilon, one of the nation’s largest fraternities, has banned pledging. The months-long introduction process and secret rituals are no more.
While they are not the first, SAE is perhaps the most prominent fraternity in the United States to eliminate pledging. Other fraternities hope the move becomes a trend and the future of Greek life on college campuses across the country.
Not everyone is a fan. Dillion Brooks is a junior at the University of Denver. He’s proud of his SAE brotherhood and has his reservations about the changes coming to the new member process.
“I think our culture is very mature, very respectful,” Herbst said.
Herbst says their organization hasn’t has a traditional pledge process since 1989.
“[We are trying] to eliminate the stereotypes of the animal house movies and stuff like that and get away from it and really go toward a business model,” Herbst said.
Other chapter leaders say not using the term “pledge” helps bridge the gap between members.
“We call our guys new members as a blatant thing of respect to make sure that we are all equal, we are all in this together,” T.J. Weber said.
That’s why men at Sigma Phi Epsilon say Sigma Alpha Epsilon is making the right move.
“I would say any other chapter here, any other fraternity on campus, should definitely do it because it kind of gives you more of that feeling of brotherhood instead of just, you know, I’m better than you because we are older,” Weber said.
Sigma Phi Epsilon follows the “Balances Man” model. Leaders say that’s similar to the new model that Sigma Alpha Epsilon is moving toward called the “True Gentleman Experience.”
“Right off the bat there’s a respect level that we all have for each other,” Herbst said.
Sigma Phi Epsilon leaders say their organization started this trend to eliminate pledging and hazing.
“Kind of looking at what we’ve been doing and hopefully other fraternities can do that as well,” Weber said.
These leaders say the future of fraternities is built on respect for every member.
“We all kind of work together instead of having two groups of people who are more respected and people who are less respected,” Weber said.
Herbst says their recruitment process is not only safer and more respectful for new members, but it also helps eliminate chapter liability.