The University restored its recognition of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, a fraternity that has been operating as an unrecognized chapter at GW since the mid 1990s.
Interfraternity Council President Frank Gervasio said six members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon approached the University last fall to begin discussions about the possibility of coming back on campus
After a series of meetings this semester with GW officials, members of the IFC Presidents’ Council voted unanimously Tuesday to recognize the chapter as an official GW fraternity once again.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon lost its University recognition amid allegations of hazing in the mid 1990s, but remained a recognized chapter by its national organization. Since then, it has continued to recruit new members and hold events, outside the University’s purview.
The IFC’s vote gives Sigma Alpha Epsilon status as a “transitional chapter.” The body will vote again in one year to determine whether or not to grant it full-chapter status.
Gervasio said the process was kept fairly quiet during its early stages because he wasn’t sure how members of the GW community would take the news.
“SAE is known on campus for having issues… After hearing their case and talking to their members and talking to their advisers, there was absolutely no concern about their presence,” Gervasio said.
Richard Shanahan, a representative from Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s national organization, said the fraternity made several attempts to regain GW chapter recognition within the past 10 years but did not follow through with the process.
“The timing wasn’t really right with the University, it wasn’t really right for us,” Shanahan said.
Seamus Kerin, the president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, said his fraternity presented a transition plan to the University, including programming plans for rush and pledging. Even though Sigma Alpha Epsilon has had between 30 and 45 members every year, only six are part of the newly recognized chapter, Kerin said.
“When we were deciding whether to go back on campus or not to go back on campus, there were people who didn’t want to go back,” Kerin said.
While Kerin said Sigma Alpha Epsilon ultimately hopes to receive on-campus Greek-life housing, the chapter has no set goals in the number of members it hopes to recruit in the fall.
“We want to refill our ranks with guys we think are going to be able to help us continue building our positive impact on the GW community,” Kerin said.
Acknowledging the fraternity’s troubled reputation, Kerin said his chapter is looking forward to proving itself to the Greek-life community and to GW as a whole.
“We’ve been working all year toward doing this,” Kerin said. “I can’t speak for the past but we’re different now.”
Director of Greek Life Christina Witkowicki said she is not concerned about Sigma Alpha Epsilon being back on campus.
“If we believed these men were not going to be in line with University expectations we would not have supported exploring rerecognizing the chapter,” Witkowicki said in an e-mail.
The University does not believe any other unrecognized chapters are still active on campus, and the IFC is not in the process of bringing any other chapters on, Witkowicki said.