Fraternity puts end to pledging

By Keith Hernandez

A national fraternity at NIU eliminated pledging and adopted a policy that aims to equalize the class status between new and full members, effective March 9.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon banned its previous new member system in favor of one that discourages hazing after the national fraternity’s posted deadline of March 9. SAE’s national website announced that the policy was implemented due to student deaths and occurrences that have led to bad publicity.

According to the SAE website, many fraternity pledges are treated as second-class citizens and hazed.

“The bad publicity Sigma Alpha Epsilon has received is challenging and regretful because we know that some of our groups have great new member (pledge) programs and do the right thing,” according to a statement on SAE’s website. “We are making this change because it’s the right thing to do and because we firmly believe in returning to what our founding fathers envisioned.”

NIU has seen effects of alleged hazing in the past.

The Nov. 2, 2012, death of freshman pledge David Bogenberger resulted in 22 members of Pi Kappa Alpha facing charges of misdemeanor hazing, with five also facing felony hazing charges.

A lawsuit by the Bogenberger family alleges he was left alone and unconscious with a blood-alcohol content of .351 percent, according to a Feb. 17, 2013, Northern Star article.

Pi Kappa Alpha has since been shut down at NIU.

Under SAE’s new program, students become full members once they accept a bid and have completed the requisites of the fraternity.

Sophomore chemistry major Trent Kunkle, member of Phi Kappa Theta, said while a pledge process isn’t necessary, not just anyone should be able to join a fraternity.

“It shouldn’t be said that ‘OK, so this frat doesn’t have a pledge process, so I can join,’” Kunkle said. “Being a part of a fraternity is holding a higher standard academically and community-wise.”

Freshman nursing major Frank Ettorre, member of Delta Chi, has a similar opinion.

“I think it’s a bold move on their part to get rid of it,” Ettorre said. “It builds character and makes [pledges] closer together and learn about each other.”

Although most Greek letter organizations still have some kind of new member program, Trevor Morrisson, president of the Interfraternity Council, said he thinks the transition for SAE will not prove difficult.

“I do not think that this change is going to be problematic at all,” Morrisson said. “There are a lot of national fraternities that already hold similar views toward a new member program.”