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Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity Suspended, Under Investigation for Hazing

Michen Dewey | PHOENIXLoyola University suspended its local chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon while it investigates alleged hazing.

Loyola University Chicago suspended fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE), while the university investigates the chapter for hazing.

The university has temporarily suspended the local chapter, Illinois Alpha-Omega, after receiving “credible information alleging that the chapter is engaged in hazing activity,” according to an emailed statement from Loyola spokesman Steven Christensen.

Loyola’s community standards, Illinois law and the national SAE organization forbid hazing, defined by Loyola as any action producing “bodily harm or danger, mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, fright or ridicule.” Students in Loyola Greek Life must sign a form acknowledging the school’s no-hazing policy.

Loyola’s Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution will move forward with a “thorough” investigation, Christensen said, per university policy. While the university investigates, Loyola SAE’s status as a recognized student group is on hold until the investigation is finished and a decision is reached.

Brandon Weghorst, the Associate Executive Director of Communications for SAE, wrote in an email statement to The PHOENIX that the fraternity’s national headquarters, located in Evanston, had begun an investigation into the allegations.

“We maintain stringent guidelines and expectations though [sic] our health & safety program, and members who do not comply with them are sanctioned accordingly,” Weghorst wrote in the email. “Furthermore, we have a zero-tolerance policy for any actions that deviate from our policies because that type of conduct is unacceptable.”

The Loyola chapter’s suspension marks the second in Chicagoland this month: Northwestern University’s SAE chapter came under fire by the university and the fraternity’s national headquarters in Evanston on Feb. 14, rattled by allegations of alcohol abuse and sexual assault.

In 2015, numerous SAE chapters nationwide were suspended in connection to alleged incidents involving hazing, sexual harassment and racist chanting.

The suspension is not SAE’s first at Loyola, either. The fraternity was suspended in fall 1998, before it returned to Loyola in 2002.

In 2009, Loyola suspended another fraternity, Alpha Delta Gamma, for four years for allegedly giving and selling alcohol to minors. More recently, Loyola suspended Sigma Pi for three years in 2014 for allegedly hazing new members and engaging in lewd conduct with a mannequin.

The Loyola SAE chapter’s Facebook page says it’s the “largest and most involved social fraternity” at the university. The chapter was named the top SAE chapter in the country in 2010 and was known around campus for regularly hosting the St. Baldrick’s Day charity event each March.

Loyola junior Zoe Moss, 21, said she views the investigation as a positive action taken by the university.

“This is a serious matter and it shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially since they’re a fraternity — they’re looked at with a lot of eyes,” said the film production major. “So it’s important that everything is in order and that they’re doing everything morally right in their organization.”

Alexander Pappas, a member of Loyola’s chapter of the professional business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi, said that allegations of hazing don’t surprise him.

“I’ve been a senior for the last semester and from that I realize that history has repeated itself,” said the international studies major. “We have had a fraternity on campus that has been caught for such a thing and it seems like people just don’t learn.”

Pappas, 22, said that hazing occurs when people join social groups for the wrong reasons and don’t forge genuine friendships.

“I think it’s reflected upon the people that use Greek life as an excuse to become more social in college and the fact that you can’t really buy a relationship,” Pappas said. “If you try to do that, you end up making false relationships on false pretenses and on false experiences that often result in hazing because there’s really nothing else to experience with each other.”

Members of the Loyola SAE chapter declined comment.

Grace Runkel, Nader Issa and Madeline Kenney contributed to this report.

Patrick Judge is a senior at Loyola University Chicago majoring in journalism and mathematics/computer science.