Hazing News

A bold new step: Sigma Alpha Epsilon banishes pledging



Her are some of my thoughts on the decision of SAE to end pledging.

I approve wholeheartedly and commend the SAE executive board for a bold decision that may save lives.


Some thoughts:


The decision to drop pledging was long overdue by a national such as SAE, particularly since it has experienced more hazing deaths than any other fraternity, as well as deaths and serious injuries from other risky behaviors.


The organization essentially had to do an end around its undergraduates who have consistently voted to keep alcohol in houses and to continue pledging as the status quo.


Expect a blowback from undergraduate chapters.  Right after it was announced a Univ of Connecticut Kappa Kappa Gamma pledge blamed KKG and the SAE chapter of hazing her by forcing her to drink. She was hospitalized and claims she might have died had not someone called 911.


Clearly there will be undergraduate chapters defying the national, and the national’s resolve to punish such chapters will be tested.


Eventually, meaning in 4 years, all members who went thru the old-fashioned pledging will have graduated, and it should be much smoother sailing for the dropping of the pledge period..


As a business, SAE is making a sound decision.  The benefits in fewer payouts for hazing cases  will translate to huge risk insurance savings.


There still is a 4-day window from acceptance to member privileges for the new classes of SAE.  School officials would be wise to keep a wary eye on SAE during those four days lest veteran members at some chapters decide it is important to indoctrinate the pledges the old way.


Hank Nuwer


By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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