Fraternity Pledging Ban Hailed as Measure to Save Student Lives

Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s decision last week to ban pledging, the months-long initiation period that has led to student abuse, could save lives, according to the author of four books on hazing.

Universities also need to crack down on hazing, Hank Nuwer, a professor at Franklin College in Indiana, said in an interview today on Bloomberg Television. SAE will need to keep track of local chapters to make sure they comply, he said.

At least 10 deaths since 2006 have been linked to hazing, alcohol or drugs at SAE events, more than at any other fraternity, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Evanston, Illinois-based SAE, which said it’s taking action to protect new members, is one of only a handful of 75 national fraternities to eliminate pledging.

“What will happen without pledging is we won’t have the kind of semester-long hazing that has led to so many of the deaths,” Nuwer said.

In December, Bloomberg News reported that SAE brothers at Salisbury University in Maryland forced pledges in 2012 to drink until they almost passed out, dressed them in women’s clothing and diapers and ordered them to stand in their underwear in trash cans filled waist-deep with ice.

Members of SAE, one of the largest U.S. fraternities, with more than 240 chapters and 14,000 college members, pay among the highest costs of any Greek organization for liability insurance, and universities have suspended or closed at least 15 chapters within the past three years.

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