IFC letter urges Sigma Alpha Epsilon to reform

GW fraternity and sorority presidents urged members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity to curb their behavior in a letter sent to the chapter Thursday.

The letter, which was signed by 22 Greek-letter leaders, was written after members of the Interfraternity Council said Sigma Alpha Epsilon brothers harassed and bullied them.

Every weekend (Sigma Alpha Epsilon members) try to pick a fight, Delta Tau Delta President Jeff Butler said. They throw insults and try to bait us into a fight. They’re trying to get us to throw the first punch.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon President Jared Reiss said he has no knowledge of any physical altercations between his fraternity and other GW fraternities.

There may have been bad words, but there have not been any fights, Reiss said.

Reiss did not comment further and said he had not seen the letter.

According to the letter officially sent by the IFC, the letter stemmed from long-term problems Greek-letter members have had with Sigma Alpha Epsilon but was initiated after recent disputes.

Recent events involving SAE and other fraternities on campus have once again led to discussions about how to deal with the inappropriate behavior of this `renegade’ chapter, according to the letter sent from Greek-letter leaders.

Butler said Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which has not been recognized by the University or the IFC since 1993, is a danger to all members of the GW community.

The fraternity lost University recognition in 1993 for various violations. The University asks that suspended fraternities refrain from participating in the community and accept some sort of disciplinary action for one year before trying to return. Sigma Alpha Epsilon chose to refrain from re-registering for University recognition and remains off campus.

The University initiated legal action against Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s national organization last year because administrators said University Police reported that someone threw a brick from the rooftop or a window of the chapter’s house, located at 2034 G St.

The letter recently sent by the IFC is similar to the letter the University’s legal team sent last year. Both letters allege Sigma Alpha Epsilon has trouble following the law.

The most recent letter is similar to the letter sent last year because it cites a Student Judicial Services file filled with police reports about Sigma Alpha Epsilon and its members. The reports allege violations including sexual assault, vandalism and physical altercations with students and University and Metropolitan police officers, according to the letter.

Ed Crump, an alumnus of GW’s chapter and a trustee of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Foundation, has served as a legal counsel to the fraternity since last year. He said the University never sent official reports to Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s national organization or local alumni.

Crump said he is concerned about the serious allegations and is particularly interested in the sexual assault charge.

We don’t want someone who has committed sexual assault in our house, he said. He said reports must exist if members of the chapter had physical altercations with police officers, and he said he does not understand why national leaders never received information about these alleged incidents.

Crump said he had not received the most recent letter, as of press time. But he said he remains interested in meeting with University officials and wants to investigate the charges if he sees proof. The University canceled a meeting with Sigma Alpha Epsilon officials last year and never rescheduled it.

For now, IFC members said Sigma Alpha Epsilon still poses a serious threat.

SAE’s creed, `True Gentleman,’ describes that an SAE must be `a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue is safe,’ according to the letter. There is no honor in non-compliance to rules and no virtue in blatant disregard for Greek ideals.

IFC President Seth Greenberg said the letter united the Greek-letter community and proved a point.

This letter shows Greeks holding themselves accountable for their actions, he said.

He said his fraternity, Kappa Sigma, asks its members to temper your actions with wisdom. Greenberg is asking Sigma Alpha Epsilon to do the same, he said. If Sigma Alpha Epsilon members begin to follow the rules, he said discussions about a return to campus can ensue.

Panhellenic Association sororities and the National Pan Hellenic Council, which includes historically black organizations, were among the 22 signatures on the letter.

Panhellenic Association President Janine Geraigery said many Greek-letter women have friends in Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which made the decision to sign difficult for some. But she said the women knew Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s behavior was inappropriate.

We wanted to be supportive of the IFC, and we would expect the same from them, Geraigery said.

Rachel Sonenshine, president of Alpha Epsilon Phi, agreed and added that Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s actions reflect poorly on the whole Greek-letter community, regardless of the chapter’s status with the University.

If they’re going to be Greek, they need to act like they’re Greek, she said.

Sigma Chi, Phi Kappa Psi and Alpha Epsilon Pi presidents refrained from signing the letter.

Alpha Epsilon Pi President Ben Kirshner said the IFC did not present him with proof of the allegations and called the IFC action slanderous. Phi Kappa Psi Vice President Rich Fisher said his fraternity declined to comment at this time, and Sigma Chi President Fred Wininger was unavailable for comment. Other recognized Greek-letter leaders who were contacted declined to comment or were unavailable.

Frank Ginocchio, general counsel for Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s national organization, said he would like University recognition, but he said the local alumni told him they find the University impossible to work with, period.

Ginocchio also said he was disappointed that the IFC did not send copies of the letter to Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s local alumni, since they are responsible for tending to chapter problems. The letter was sent to Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s national organization and copied to Reiss, Assistant Vice President for Student Academic and Support Services Mike Gargano, Coordinator for Greek Affairs Tracie Anzaldi and the National Interfraternity Conference.

Butler said the tension between IFC fraternities and Sigma Alpha Epsilon started last year and persists. About 30 members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon knocked down the front door of Delta Tau Delta’s house last spring, Butler said. He added that a physical altercation ensued between the 30 or so members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and about seven members of Delta Tau Delta.

Since rush ended this year, Sigma Alpha Epsilon members have gone to the Thurston Hall rooms of some Delta Tau Delta pledges and harassed them, Butler said. He said harassing pledges was unacceptable and said that was what drove him to take action.

Butler said Sigma Alpha Epsilon came looking for a fight again during the weekend. He added that he will continue to fight but not with his fists.

Butler said he will contact his national organization, the IFC and appropriate GW administrators every time Sigma Alpha Epsilon causes problems for Delta Tau Delta and its members.

As long as I’m here, and they’re causing problems, I’m not going to stop.Their behavior is unacceptable and unlike other fraternity presidents in the past, I’m not afraid to stand up to it, he said.

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