In response to The Hatchet’s lead article and ensuing editorial regarding the IFC’s letter to Sigma Alpha Epsilon, we would like to point out that a newspaper, even an amateur one, holds the responsibility to be fair and accurate in its reporting.
In what must have been a rush to publish what appears to be a good story, The Hatchet ignored this responsibility and in turn recklessly represented nonsensical allegations as fact and gave an outlet to biased sources who appear bent on wrecking a proud, albeit independent, fraternity, for reasons more personal than societal.
While it is our chapter’s policy not to dignify the absurd allegations made in the letter and re-voiced in the pages of this newspaper by even addressing them, it is necessary to clarify a few things as well as reveal many of the shady and underhanded means by which this letter came to be.
The overall tone of the article suggests that this particular chapter is one run amok, akin to the Animal House environment that was fraternity life not too long ago. To pretend that this individual chapter can behave in such a way without repercussions is simply stupid. Like each of the recognized fraternities on campus, we must abide by strict risk-management procedures, which are predicated upon very black-and-white insurance regulations.
In this regard, we are playing by the same rules as most chapters of most fraternities on every college campus in this country. In sustaining this Animal House image, however, the IFC and The Hatchet rely on anecdotal tales of SAE brothers terrorizing G Street. Well, let us put this in perspective.
For any of the more serious allegations to be true, the brothers of SAE would have to live in a lawless land. The last time we checked, the absence of University recognition does not mean that the chapter does not have to adhere to the law. Common sense dictates that if sexual assault, breaking and entering, assaults on police officers, or any of the other preposterous allegations made in the letter were true, a far greater authority than Jeff Butler or Seth Greenberg would be ready to dispense justice.
Of course, to complement the demonization of SAE, The Hatchet needed to produce heroes as well, and heaped praise upon the likes of Mr. Butler and Mr. Greenberg. We would suggest that there is nothing heroic about spreading rumors and innuendo as fact. For your paper to accept at face value the accusations made by these two men, each with overwhelmingly dubious motivations, is sloppy and reckless journalism, plain and simple. We will not engage in the kind of character assassination to which we have been subject by these allegations by slandering these men or their fraternities, but it must be stated that there are long-standing and deep-seated rifts between them and SAE.
Furthermore, a number of members of other Greek-letter organizations have come to us to offer their support and to reveal the coercive measures that some proponents of the action used to get signatures on their letter. In some cases, lies were told to pressure certain chapters into not being the only organization not to sign the letter. In other cases, the letter was presented as something far more innocuous than the vitriolic text that was later turned in.
Last but not least, the letter was leaked to The Hatchet before even our chapter had a chance to read it. This is purely unethical, and a cheap shot. Imagine being asked to account for such nasty allegations by a reporter without having had a chance to review the source.
By using their positions of power and influence on this campus – the bully pulpit – to spread mean-spirited and simply untrue allegations in an attempt to corral SAE, the IFC has shown itself to be the neighborhood bully in this case.
It is unfortunate that The Hatchet would adopt the IFC’s position as truth. It is more unfortunate that a student newspaper would recklessly and irresponsibly under-report such a story and give an outlet to such hogwash, thereby slandering fellow students. Like you, we are not common criminals or corrupt politicians; we are merely college kids and deserve fair treatment.
We suppose that is why there are laws against slander and libel.
-Matt McGrath is a member and Jared Reiss is president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.