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New MIT Chapter Of SAE Planned

By Jennifer Krishnan


The MIT chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity may soon be rechartered.

“We’ll be an active group contributing to MITcommunity as early as mid-September,” said Matthew W. Adkisson ’05, one of the 12 upperclassmen who have expressed interest in “recolonizing” the chapter.

MIT’s SAE chapter was closed in Jan. 2000, after an incident of underage drinking in one of their two houses.

“MIT revoked recognition from SAE at that time,” recommending suspension for two years, said David N. Rogers, assistant dean and director for fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups.

“It’s been three years, and ... there is an interest,” Rogers said. “There’s a group of 12 guys who have contacted the alumni board of SAE. ... We are [currently] in discussions with an interest group.”

SAE shut down in 2000

The Massachusetts Iota Tau chapter of SAE was established at MIT in 1892.

“SAE has been around for more than 100 years,” Adkisson said. “It has a legacy as one of the strongest houses at MIT.”

In September 1999, SAE came under fire after a 19-year-old Wellesley College student was taken by ambulance to a hospital, allegedly after being served alcohol at SAE.

In the ensuing months, both of the fraternity’s Beacon St. houses were closed by the Boston Licensing Board, the chapter’s local alumni board expelled all of the then-upperclassmen from the fraternity, and recognition from the Institute was withdrawn.

Adkisson said the 1999 incident was “before the time of everybody who’s involved” now.

“What happened in the past, happened in the past. We’re looking forward to the future,” he said.

Group seeking new philosophy

Adkisson said they are recolonizing the SAE chapter at MIT because “we didn’t find any fraternities whose philosophies matched ours.”

“We want to build a chapter that emphasizes common values and brotherhood, not just a living space,” he said.

Of the 12 sophomores and juniors in the group, six were formerly affiliated with Delta Tau Delta fraternity.

“We were living at Delta Tau Delta, and we moved out,” Adkisson said.

A representative of Delta Tau Delta declined to comment.

Recognition sought on many levels

In order to be recognized as a fraternity at MIT, the chapter must win approval from MIT, the Interfraternity Council, and the national fraternity.

The group recolonizing SAE has already gained the support of the alumni corporation for the old MIT chapter. Alumni Corporation President William C. Noz ’57 said they were communicating with the national organization and are “trying to make sure that all of the right steps are taken to [recolonize] properly.”

“We have high hopes that this will happen smoothly and successfully,” Noz said. “We’re tied into it pretty strongly.”

Rogers said MIT will work closely with the IFC to evaluate SAE’s petition. He said in order to be recognized, SAE will have to demonstrate that there is an interest in and a need for the new chapter -- the need and the interest “can be one and the same” -- and that the chapter will “add to the campus.”

The group will have to answer the question, “What is it that SAE can offer that another fraternity can’t?” Rogers said.

“On college campuses across the country, fraternities are expanding, and it’s not necessarily a given that they’ll be successful,” he said.

It will probably be 12 to 24 months before the interest group becomes a fully chartered and recognized fraternity.

IFC recognition has stages

In order to gain recognition from the IFC, a group must first submit a petition, which must include a statement of purpose, a constitution, and a pledge of no hazing.

Upon a vote by the IFC President’s Council, the group can become an associate member of the IFC for a period of no less than a year. As associate members, they can participate in IFC functions, such as rush, but they do not hold a vote in the Presidents’s Council.

After that, the fraternity can, after another vote, become a probationary member for a period of no less than one academic term. After another vote, the chapter can be a full member of the IFC.

As soon as SAE gets a petition approved by the President’s Council, the group can begin to rush.

“We’re not actively participating in rush [right now], but we’re selectively recruiting,” Adkisson said, meaning that if someone expresses interest, the students working to recolonize the chapter are willing to speak with them about their work.

Adkisson said that the group is planning to participate in spring rush, and has already been approached by a few freshmen who were sons of old SAE members.

As for a getting a house, “we have the resources to buy a house, and we’re in the market for a house,” but it will probably take 12 to 18 months, Adkisson said. He said when the old SAE houses were sold the money was put into a trust fund, and that money could be tapped to purchase a new house.