Sigma Alpha Epsilon, the oldest fraternity at UC Davis, was suspended in April for multiple allegations of serving alcohol to minors. The fraternity, made famous by its gentlemen motif, is not allowed to raise funds on campus, use university resources or be affiliated with UC Davis in any way for five years. The suspension follows on the heels of several other alcohol-related incidents with SAE in chapters around the United States, including the death of one student at Cornell University.
“In October 2009, SAE was found responsible for theft of an A-frame sign taken from campus and used to advertise a rush event, providing alcohol to an underage student at a party at the fraternity house and engaging in conduct that threatened the health and safety of a person after a pledge was injured at a bid night event where alcohol was provided,” said Joaquin Feliciano, Greek Life Coordinator with the UC Davis Student Housing Office of Student Development.
Subsequently, SAE had its fraternity status revoked for approximately two years. After its status had been reinstated, the fraternity was placed on probation for one academic year. In January and February of 2012, SAE was found guilty of serving alcohol to minors at two parties, a violation of their probation.
“Because the group was still on conditional registration at the time of both of these incidents, UC Davis revoked its recognition as a registered student organization for a period of no less than five years,” Feliciano said.
The fraternity may apply to be reinstated as a registered student organization no earlier than the spring of 2017. Until then, the influence of SAE is virtually nonexistent.
“Sigma Alpha Epsilon no longer has a presence at UC Davis,” said university spokesperson Julia Ann Easley in a press release.
Members of the Davis chapter of SAE did not respond to requests for an interview.
The nation’s largest fraternity, which boasts a presence in 250 campuses, inducted 4,000 members this past year. The Davis chapter had 50 active members at the time of its banning. The gold letters from its location on Russell Boulevard have been removed, although the driveway paint remains. The large house currently sits silent, tucked between sorority Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi and the Islamic Center of Davis on what is commonly known as “Frat Row.”
The national SAE headquarters supported the university’s decision.
After a member of the Cornell University chapter died early last year from a hazing ritual, the organization does not appear to be taking any chances.
Their official risk management book of guidelines, titled “Minerva’s Shield,” states: “The possession, use, sale and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages must be in compliance with any and all applicable federal, state or city laws and university regulations. Underage possession and consumption is prohibited.”
Though their website includes links to various press releases concerning SAE and their activities around the nation, there is no mention of the Davis chapter.
SAE was recently included in the list of non-registered student organizations, or non-RSOs, present at UC Davis. Non-RSOs are blocked from campus affiliation for violating requirements with the Center for Student Involvement, or for having their status revoked. Some voluntarily remain independent.
Among these non-RSOs is Phi Alpha Iota, which bears the same name as what the organization SAE used to be known as when it was first established in 1913. Several former members of SAE are participating in Phi Alpha Iota, although no official link currently exists between the organizations. SAE originally began on campus as Phi Alpha Iota in 1913, according to a July 14 article by The Sacramento Bee.
Feliciano declined to comment on why Phi Alpha Iota remains a non-RSO.
While alcohol consumption by minors is a staple of fraternity culture, this is the first time such a reprimand has taken place.
In response to whether Fraternity Row had a history of serious offenses regarding underage drinking, UC Davis Chief of Police Matthew Carmichael said , “Not to my knowledge, but I would have to take a look through the records.”
ADAM KHAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org