Cheap beer. Loud parties. No one checking IDs. According to chapter President Andrew Hopkins, these are all things of the past at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house, which reopened this fall after renovations to bring the facility into compliance with District law.
Hopkins’s statements that the fraternity, which has been unrecognized by GW since 1993, will police itself and be a responsible part of the University community are admirable. But with the chapter’s rowdy history, one must attach a measure of skepticism to any such assurances. Hopefully Sigma Alpha Epsilon will live up to its promises for their own sake and that of GW and its students.
With a newly renovated facility, Sigma Alpha Epsilon now has some of the nicest accommodations on campus. Hopkins says he wants to keep them that way. This reason is just one of many why the chapter will no longer hold open parties but will host only gatherings requiring an invitation.
Such a policy is in line with those followed by fraternities recognized by GW, but Sigma Alpha Epsilon is not bound by Interfraternity Council or University regulations. Any responsible policies the chapter institutes are voluntary and can be changed at any time to allow for irresponsible behavior. For this reason, the IFC and other chapters must work to build a good relationship with Sigma Alpha Epsilon to encourage cooperation and responsibility among all fraternities, recognized or not.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon could argue they are not entirely without supervision. The Metropolitan Police Department still has jurisdiction over any violations of law that occur at the house, including underage drinking. But having a Greek-letter organization left largely to police itself could lead to disaster.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon was removed from campus for serious violations of University policy eight years ago and continued throughout that time to supply alcohol to scores of underage students, pick fights with other fraternities and engage in other disorderly conduct.
Seniors now in the chapter now were involved in the fraternity in previous years as underclassmen when the organization faced accusations of unruly behavior; what credence should GW give to their guarantees that Sigma Alpha Epsilon has changed its ways?
As with any promise, the proof of sincerity will come from the actions of the members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. They have a choice: the brothers can continue to cultivate a renegade image and perpetuate the “frat-boy” stereotype, or they can act responsibly while still having fun and enjoying life at GW. We hope they choose wisely.