USC’s chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity is working to improve its pledge program and meet university behavioral standards, after university sanctions prevented them from participating in recruitment this fall.
SAE was originally placed under review in April, per a letter it received from Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards. At the beginning of the fall semester, the fraternity received another letter from SJACS, detailing the sanctions it was facing and informing the fraternity that it would be barred from recruitment, SAE President Matt Nicoletti said.
Nicoletti said he was told by the university that the sanctions were a result of an overall behavioral interpretation of the house.
“They said our behavior standards were not matching what they hoped for in a fraternity with regards to a lot of different things,” Nicoletti said.
He added that incidents during the spring semester were likely what prompted the April letter.
“Last school year was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back,” Nicoletti said.
The decision to place further regulations on SAE was a university decision, and the fraternity is not facing sanctions from the Interfraternity Council, said Gabe Worgaftik, IFC spokesman.
“It was entirely a university ruling,” Worgaftik said.
Fraternity members were surprised by the extent of the university’s actions, but have accepted the consequences and are working toward improving house policies, Nicoletti added.
“Nobody’s happy that we don’t have pledges, but overall the situation has been received well by the guys in the house,” Nicoletti said.
Beyond rush, the restrictions also place limits on the fraternity’s social calendar and Row-wide philanthropy events.
This semester, SAE is required to limit its social events to hosting one invite, one sorority-fraternity exchange and one registered party. SAE will also not be allowed to host a Row-wide philanthropy, since some of these events have been criticized for turning into “fundraiser-ragers,” Nicoletti said.
Instead, the fraternity will focus on participating in behavior and standards workshops, and will be hosting an anti-hazing education seminar.
Nicoletti and SAE Vice President Nate Carroll have also been asked by SJACS to step down from their positions by the end of the semester.
Nicoletti said he intends to comply with all the sanctions imposed by SJACS.
“We consider ourselves a top fraternity … But in the university’s eyes we weren’t up to their standards,” Nicoletti said. “We now have to educate guys about changing the fraternity’s culture.”
Nicoletti added that he does see a need for improvement in certain areas, such as mandatory attendance at university and IFC events.
“We will have to start participating more in the university and Greek community, which will be a positive thing for the house in the long run,” Nicoletti said.
Jameson Galey, a sophomore member of SAE, said he and his fellow members agree changes need to be made.
“In terms of pledging, a lot of things needed to change from the way things were and we need to revamp the whole process in general,” Galey said.
SAE will be monitored by both SJACS and the fraternity’s national organization, Nicoletti said.
In order to keep fraternity leadership accountable, the university is requiring that Nicoletti and Carroll meet with SJACS every other month until the end of their terms.
Nicoletti said SAE national officers will visit the house every month to make sure the chapter complies with the fraternity’s national standards.
SAE anticipates being able to participate in spring fraternity rush and recruitment events, Nicoletti said.
Ray Carlos, assistant director of the Office for Fraternity and Sorority Leadership Development, said all issues that go through SJACS are confidential and declined to comment.