Spotlight: Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity

In 2014, Sigma Alpha Epsilon  discontinued pledging, subsequently introducing our comprehensive 96-hour bid-to-initiation process. This change paved the way for a new approach to member onboarding and continued education.

For member onboarding, new initiates must complete a pre-initiation course within 96-hours of being given a bid. In this pre-initiation course, new initiates are walked through Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s health and safety policies, which include personal conduct in regard to hazing and other activities not in congruence with our values, along with the fraternity’s mission, vision, and history. Subsequently, following initiation, new initiates go through three weeks of online modules that are moderated by the Fraternity Service Center, which covers Sigma Alpha Epsilon health and safety policies more in-depth with real-world scenarios for new initiates to learn how to address and prevent risky behavior.

Ultimately, each Sigma Alpha Epsilon Chapter is required to follow a standard member education program known as the Phoenix Member Education Program. When chapters adhere to the program as outlined, the risk of hazing is virtually eliminated. Importantly, the program is meticulously designed to exclude any activities, lessons, or materials that could be construed as hazing or tacitly endorse such practices. It does still, however, grant chapters the flexibility to incorporate brotherhood activities and guest speakers as part of Brother-to-Brother Lessons. These additions and substitutions must be approved by chapter leadership and advisors. Notably, the Phoenix Member Education Program promotes unity among chapter members, avoiding any division based on their entry dates. It instead offers Member Onboarding for new members and ongoing education and development for all.

To ensure the success of the Phoenix Member Education Program and hazing prevention efforts, all members sign a scope of association upon joining the fraternity. The scope of the association outlines Sigma Alpha Epsilon expectations and personal conduct responsibilities for all members. Additionally, every semester, the Fraternity Service Center hosts parent webinars for all new initiates to ensure parents understand the Phoenix Member Education Program, the expectations of membership, and our policies regarding hazing and other health and safety guidelines.

Beyond the Phoenix Member Education Program, Sigma Alpha Epsilon has enriched its commitment to hazing prevention through the curriculum presented at our various leadership development programs. Through participation in the Fraternity’s various in-person leadership development programs, chapter officers are equipped with the tools necessary for effective leadership. The curriculum at these events includes vital components for hazing prevention, such as bystander intervention training, an overview of the appropriate chapter accountability process, guidance on implementing the Phoenix Member Education Program, and peer-to-peer discussions on averting hazing incidents within one’s chapter. Additionally, the curriculum at these events nurtures leadership competencies essential for fraternity members to excel within the organization, their communities, and future professional roles. Participants gain essential skills, knowledge in Ritual, leadership, and recruitment activities to bring back to their chapters, and insights into opportunities for alumni involvement.

Complementing in-person events, we’ve partnered with Favor & Company to offer online educational modules accessible to all members. These courses cover a range of topics, including Managing Risk in Recruitment, The Big/Little Relationship, and Why is That Considered Hazing. For the 2023 academic year, we’ve introduced three new courses: Hazing Awareness and Prevention for New Members, Hazing Awareness and Prevention for Existing Members, and Bystander Intervention.

In addition to our online education modules, we have launched a health and safety initiative via our social media platforms called Minerva’s Minutes. Minerva’s Minutes are posted twice a month via social media and address various health and safety topics, such as hazing, consent, alcohol awareness, mental health, and much more. Minerva’s Minutes aims to educate brothers on important health and safety topics while providing them with applicable tools to mitigate risk in their chapters.

Furthermore, we actively participate in the Capital Hill Visits with collegiate, alumni, and inter-fraternal partners to help advocate for the End All Hazing Bill. Along with supporting the End All Hazing Bill, we are proud National Hazing Prevention Week participants. During National Hazing Prevention Week, the Fraternity provides resources and disseminates information to empower our brothers with the knowledge and tools to combat hazing. In the 2023 National Hazing Prevention Week, SAE advisors will engage in an Alumni Leadership Academy workshop led by Lianne Kowiak, the mother of the late Harrison Kowiak, who tragically lost his life to hazing. During this session, Lianne will share Harrison’s story while educating these advisers about their role in empowering collegiate brothers to eradicate hazing.

The health and safety, and prevention of hazing within our fraternity remain paramount. Sigma Alpha Epsilon is dedicated to maintaining these priorities.

What are you doing for National Hazing Prevention Week?

Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity is proud to once again participate in National Hazing Prevention Week. The health and safety of our members, including the prevention of hazing, is and will continue to be a top priority of SAE. During this important week, the Fraternity Service Center will provide resources and share information to help equip our brothers with the tools to prevent hazing.

Before National Hazing Prevention Week starts, collegiate active Cooper Curtain from The University of Kansas will challenge all brothers of SAE, via a social media post, to participate in National Hazing Prevention Week while highlighting why he and his chapter are empowered to end and prevent hazing. To kick off National Hazing Prevention Week, Chris Hancock, Eminent Supreme Recorder and CEO of SAE, will release a video and letter to all brothers of SAE, reminding them of the importance of hazing prevention and education while also shedding light on the impact of empowering each other to stand against hazing.

Other initiatives led by the Fraternity Service Center for National Hazing Prevention Week will include:

  • Tuesday – PROMOTION of activities to help build brotherhood that does not involve hazing but focuses on our values of Friendship, Scholarship, Leadership, and Service.
  • Wednesday – EDUCATION on the spectrum of hazing and the damage it can cause.
  • Thursday – Empowering each bother to be an ADVOCATE to prevent and end hazing. We will share videos of brothers from around the country explaining why they are empowered to prevent and end hazing. Additionally, on Thursday night, advisors of SAE will participate in an Alumni Leadership Academy workshop being facilitated by Lianne Kowiak, the mother of the late Harrison Kowiak, who tragically lost his life to hazing. During this session, Lianne will share Harrison’s story while helping educate these advisers on their role in empowering collegiate brothers to end hazing.
  • Friday – SAE will unite to show their unity to prevent and end hazing by highlighting the various National Hazing Prevention Week activities in which chapters across the country participated.