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Fraternity cited in deaths and injuries ends pledging, hazing

Sigma Alpha Epsilon is one of the largest fraternities, with chapters stretching from San Francisco to New York and from Arizona to Florida. A look at the map of chapters on the frat’s website shows it crisscrosses the nation.

But the fraternity recently announced a “historic decision” to end all pledging at its 240 chapters. According to a report in the Insurance Journal, there have been at least 10 deaths since 2006 related to hazing, and the use of alcohol or drugs at SAE events.

The fraternity recently expressed regret for the many deaths and injuries — and “bad publicity” it has received as a result.

It’s certainly not the only fraternity that has seen recruits injured or killed during hazing, however. Just since 2005, there have been 60 frat-related deaths in the U.S.

Late last year there were reports about an SAE chapter in Maryland in which pledges were forced to drink excessive amounts of alcohol and told to stand waist-deep in trashcans filled with ice.

You might recall that a freshman at California Polytechnic State University died of alcohol poisoning during an SAE hazing six years ago.

His parents welcome the long overdue change in approach by the fraternity, saying it will help create “a much safer environment” in which “students won’t have to go through harmful traditions.”

A spokesperson for a fraternity that has already banned pledging says the change transforms the culture and sends a message that “certain behavior is no longer acceptable.”

As you might well be aware, there have been a number of premises liability and wrongful death claims brought against universities for not doing enough to stop hazing on their campuses.

Source: Insurance Journal, “Campus Culture Change: ‘Deadliest’ College Fraternity Nixes Pledging,” John Hechinger and David Glovin, Bloomberg, March 10, 2014