Sigma Alpha Epsilon Establishes Comprehensive Initiative to Combat Acts of Racial Intolerance

Statements from Blaine Ayers, Executive Director

March 18, 2015 | 10:30 am CT

CHICAGO, IL – Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity (SAE) is establishing a groundbreaking four-pronged initiative to combat instances of racial discrimination and insensitivity among its members, SAE Executive Director Blaine Ayers announced on Wednesday.

The initiative includes:

  • The appointment of a Director of Diversity & Inclusion, the first such executive-level position established by a major North-American fraternity or sorority.
  • The creation of a mandatory diversity and education program that will enhance existing programming in place for all SAE members and staff. The program, which will be developed by Paradigm Group Consultants, will begin with an online certification training program rolling out at the chapter level starting next week.
  • The establishment of a confidential toll-free telephone hotline that SAE members and others can call to report any inappropriate, offensive or illegal behaviors to the Fraternity’s national leadership organization. The hotline is 844-ALRTSAE (844-257-8723). This hotline is in addition to the Fraternity’s existing anti-hazing hotline program.
  • The appointment of a national advisory committee on diversity and inclusion by SAE National President Brad Cohen, composed of SAE undergraduates, alumni and select external subject matter experts. The committee will provide oversight and guidance to the actions being announced today, as well as other activities in the area of diversity and inclusion.

In addition, the fraternity has initiated a comprehensive review of all of its 237 chapters and colonies to determine if any currently engage in racially offensive or derogatory behaviors like those captured on video and shared from SAE’s former chapter at the University of Oklahoma earlier this month. The Fraternity will issue a report on its findings at the conclusion of the review.

“We intend to root out and eliminate this sort of reprehensible behavior from our organization,” Ayers said. “Sigma Alpha Epsilon intends to be a leader among fraternities when it comes to ensuring our members are upholding our values, mission and creed. That includes a commitment to educating our members and, when they behave inappropriately, to taking swift and appropriate action.”

Last year, SAE became one of only a handful of fraternities to eliminate pledging, in an effort to eliminate hazing of new members. By creating a comprehensive diversity and inclusion program, the organization intends to curb discrimination and intolerance among its members.

Ayers said that he and other SAE leaders did not know of the existence of the racially offensive song that was recently captured on video and shared through social media. The event led SAE to immediately disband its University of Oklahoma chapter, suspend its members and to develop the programming being announced today. The Fraternity also is in the midst of initiating what the organization calls a “trial commission” – an internal judicial process dictated by the organization’s governing laws. This process will allow for a fair review of each suspended member’s standing within the organization. For those who are charged, the commissioners will recommend to the board of directors one of several penalties, which include suspension until the member graduates or permanent expulsion from the Fraternity. The board then will vote on the commission’s recommendations.

“Not being aware of the song does not exclude us from ownership of the situation,” Ayers said. “So I want to apologize to everyone for pain that has been caused by this incident. This includes the University of Oklahoma, its staff and students as well as our approximately 15,000 undergraduate members and 200,000 living alumni whose own reputations have been tarnished by this incident.”

About SAE
Sigma Alpha Epsilon, founded in 1856, is one of the nation’s largest national social fraternities, with 237 chapters and colonies and approximately 15,000 collegiate members and 200,000 living alumni. Our creed is known as “The True Gentleman,” and our mission is to promote the highest standards of friendship, scholarship and service for our members based upon the ideals set forth by our Founding Fathers and enunciated in our creed.

About Paradigm Group Consultants
Paradigm Group Consultants is a Change Management Consulting Firm dedicated to providing companies in-depth assessment tools, insightful perspectives, and innovative training to help them maximize relationships with their greatest asset – their people – to ensure they are ready to compete in a challenging global marketplace. Whether designing more effective human resources strategies, enhancing the development of organizational processes, nurturing more effective leaders or embedding greater diversity and inclusion in a company’s culture, Paradigm Group Consultants is equipped with cutting-edge resources and innovative strategies to guide organizations toward success.

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