On March 9, 2015, The University of Oklahoma gave Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house 24 hours to move out after a nine-second video was released yesterday on Twitter. According to CNN News, the video shows students on a bus, clapping, shouting, and chanting. “There will never be a ni**** SAE. You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me.” This video has caused so much controversy that the president of the University of Oklahoma, David Boren, permanently cut all affiliation with the fraternity. But, this is not the first time that Sigma Alpha Epsilon has had problems. Several other incidents with chapters and members have been brought to the attention of the headquarters staff and leaders. SAE has had to work very hard to change after a recent string of member’s deaths. The deaths have been blamed on the hazing of the new recruits. The SAE website lists more than 130 chapters cited or suspended for health and safety incidents since 2010. At least 30 of those incidents involved hazing and about a dozen more involved alcohol.
SAE has been labeled as the “nation’s deadliest fraternity”. Many universities have turned down SAE’s attempts to open new chapters and 12 fraternities had to close in 18 months due to hazing incidents. In 2011, the mother of George Desdunes, a sophomore at Cornell University, filed a lawsuit against Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity for $25 million. The fraternity pledges bound her son’s ankles and wrists and forced him to drink alcohol in a hazing ritual on the night of his death. Desdunes mother filed the wrongful death lawsuit alleging kidnapping and that her son was forced to drink alcohol and take other substances while being quizzed by the fraternity. The kidnapping were part of a long standing fraternity ritual that was authorized by the SAE chapter officers and members. According to the lawsuit, Desdunes was left on a couch in the fraternity house where he lived, and he was found by the housekeeper the next morning. Desdunes had a blood alcohol content of 0.409% which is more than five times the legal limit. The lawsuit cites at least three other alcohol related deaths of Sigma Alpha Epsilon members or pledges.
After numerous incidents, SAE maintains a stringent policy and guideline for its chapters as a part of a risk management program. The policy affirms zero-tolerance for actions that do not comply with the regulations. Members are expected to adhere to our fraternity policies and to uphold behavior consistent with our creed, the true gentlemen. According to the Greenville News an official with the fraternity stated that the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, which has operated at Furman University for 147 years, has also been suspended by the chapter’s national organization due to hazing.
The traditional hazing rituals that SAE chapters abide by are very dangerous and the members do not realize how serious their actions are. Hazing is any action or situation, with or without the consent of the participants, which recklessly, intentionally, or unintentionally endangers the mental, physical, or academic health or safety of a student. In 2008, University of Maine study concluded that 55 percent of students who join fraternities, sororities, sports teams or other student groups experience hazing. Alcohol is often the not-so-secret ingredient that turns pledging into hazing. Four of five fraternity and sorority members in this country are binge drinkers. A 2000 Harvard University study estimates that 80 percent of hazing deaths have involved alcohol.
The family of students who have died due to hazing are devastated that they lost a loved one and all they want is justice for what happened. Our South Carolina Wrongful Death Lawyer will guide you and help you through this very tough time. Of course no amount of money will bring your loved one back but it will make others realize the dangers of hazing. The Mace firm has wrongful death attorneys who have passed the bar in South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia. Contact us today for a free consultation at (843) 839-2900 or online.