By Beth Byrd
Several Union University fraternity members temporarily lost their membership rights at the end of February as the result of a hazing incident reported in December 2012.
Jason Castles, assistant dean of students and director of student leadership and engagement, said local alumni will continue working with Union’s SAE chapter to help members regain the national standards required of the fraternity.
Castles said the details about the hazing will remain confidential.
In an online news release dated Feb. 25, Brandon Weghorst, Sigma Alpha Epsilon associate executive director of communications, said certain SAE members cannot regain their fraternity privileges until they graduate from Union.
“Following a hazing allegation, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon national headquarters launched an immediate investigation and formulated an alumni commission to take control of chapter operations during the redevelopment process,” Weghorst said in the release. “Several brothers of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at Union University have been suspended from the fraternity for failing to adhere to the national organization’s expectations and risk-management guidelines.”
Bryan Carrier, assistant dean of students and chief judicial officer, said he is not allowed to release the names or the number of members involved in the incident due to protections placed on student records under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Carrier did say some members were suspended for reasons beyond hazing and added that the fraternity will not lose its charter as a result of the incidents.
Carrier said university and fraternity alumni conducted the fraternity investigation from the first week of December to early February.
They reviewed about 40 SAE members last month to get to the “heart of the matter,” as the alumni gathered information about what happened and who was involved in the incident.
The SAE national organization decided how Union’s chapter would be reprimanded based on this investigation.
“When everything came out, alumni reached out and wanted to help,” said Jared Haney, president of Union’s SAE chapter and junior economics major. “They plugged back into the chapter, and a lot of our members reached out to alumni they knew but had lost connection with.”
Castles said hazing does not occur frequently at Union and that no one was hurt in the recent hazing situation. However, he said that Greek organizations are not the only groups on campus in which hazing occurs.
“Students can rest assured that this instance will only reinforce the university’s anti-hazing policies,” Castles said. “I think this is a great opportunity for all student organizations and teams to examine their new member programs and traditions to ensure that they do not require too much of an individual or belittle them in any way.”
In addition to changing the fraternity’s initiation rules, Haney said SAE is reexamining the organization and structure of the group as well.
One change Haney said he and other members are considering is whether to extend the term of a president to one year instead of one semester.
“The chapter is now better than it was a semester ago,” Haney said. “Hazing isn’t just a thing that happens in Greek life. I hope this (situation) can help Greek life, and people can examine what they do in their own pledging.”