Three years after being suspended for drug violations, the Indiana Delta chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon has its first member class on DePauw’s campus .
SAE was suspended from campus in the spring of 2016. According Lance Meyer, Junior, current President of SAE “they were caught with some drugs and they were given the opportunity to go through member review similar to how some of the houses here have recently or get kicked off.” The house was already on probation prior to the violations. According to Meyer, if members chose to go through membership review, they would be subject to drug testing, so they refused and SAE nationals kicked them off campus.
SAE is currently in the process of being chartered— a step in the process of becoming an official chapter on campus— or becoming a full chapter. According to Meyer, there may be a law change for the chapter that would let the current nine members of the house become fully fledged members, which means that they could be fully involved in SAE. However, he says “we would still need to reach our charter for the house which means we need a decent recruiting class next fall or spring.”
There are nine new members from the freshman, sophomore and junior classes.
According to junior Asher Lilljeberg, a new member, the house is trying to offer a diverse and welcoming environment on DePauw’s campus.
This is in response to racist incidents in recent years concerning SAE that made national headlines. In 2015, it was reported that members of the University of Oklahoma chapter chanted racist phrases and songs on a bus. According to an article in The Washington Post, they learned them at a national SAE leadership conference.
However, Dean of Students Myrna Hernandez said, “When SAE left DePauw’s campus they were the most demographically diverse men’s organization on this campus. It’s an interesting thing to think about where SAE has been historically.”
Some students are concerned regarding SAE’s return to campus given their national reputation. Sophomore Destiney Davis said, “I find it completely disheartening that DePauw would consider letting this fraternity back on campus given their racist history. Given DePauw’s recent racist incidents in the past year, letting this house back on campus is a terrible idea. I truly hope the SAE on this campus can do a lot better than those before them.”
President of the Association of African-American Students Kaleb Anderson said, “It seems like Greek life is dying on DePauw’s campus because the university is not competent enough to know how to tackle how white supremacy is showing up on campus.
“On one end you could say okay, if SAE is coming back on campus then there is the potential for SAE to reclaim the stereotype of them being racist, homophobic and transphobic and misogynistic…. I also worry that we could be inviting in a group of folks to be violent again.
“I think that because of the history of hate crimes on DePauw’s campus that have come from Greek houses, you can’t shy away from the latter,” said Anderson. Anderson explained that upon arriving arriving on DePauw’s campus as a freshman in 2016, black upperclassmen warned him about possible hate crimes coming from Greek houses such as a 2011 halloween party at Phi Psi where then freshman Taylor Truster arrived costumed in drag and was forced to leave the party, crawling on his hands and knees under tables to the door. Truster reported the incident to Public Safety and it was filed as harassment.
Lilljeberg acknowledges the history associated with SAE. While racist incidents have happened in the past on other campuses, he said, “we’re trying to be a place where everyone feels safe.”
Anderson said, “You have a duty to be accountable for your greater Greek community. And if SAE and Fiji and other houses that historically had a lot of folks of color join it, then there’s a need for them to be accountable of the other houses on campus that are still very violent that also need education as well.” Anderson explained that violence takes many forms such as harassment, assault and drug use.