Ole Miss fraternity founded in 1866 closed due to safety, standards concerns

Published 8:16 am Wednesday, December 13, 2017

OXFORD (AP) — A fraternity’s national office has closed its longstanding University of Mississippi chapter, citing health and safety concerns and violations of national standards.

Local media reported Tuesday that Sigma Alpha Epsilon, based in Evanston, Illinois, had made the move.

The fraternity said in a statement that current members have been suspended indefinitely from the fraternity and members recruited this fall have been released. Sigma Alpha Epsilon said it hopes someday to re-establish a chapter at Ole Miss.

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The national organization says it learned of “continued activity” after it ordered the chapter to stop unnamed behaviors. The organization says the closure is a “crucial reminder” to other chapters to follow the fraternity’s decision to replace traditional pledging in 2014 with what it calls the True Gentleman Experience, welcoming new members with a “holistic education.”

“Failure to follow our membership-education program known as the True Gentleman Experience will not be tolerated and may result in closure,” the statement says. “Those types of violations jeopardize other chapters and colonies and devalue the positive membership opportunity we should enjoy as a brotherhood.”

Alumni of the Ole Miss chapter, which was founded in 1866, include former Gov. Haley Barbour, author William Faulkner and U.S. Supreme Court Justice L.Q.C. Lamar.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Brandi Hephner LaBanc said in October that Ole Miss was investigating four fraternities or sororities for hazing. It’s unclear if the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter was one of them. University spokesman Jon Scott didn’t immediately respond Tuesday night to a request for comment.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon has been under national scrutiny after the publication of a book by John Hechinger exploring the fraternity. Hechinger describes SAE as America’s deadliest fraternity, with 10 deaths — most linked to alcohol— since 2005. The fraternity also came under scrutiny after a 2015 video captured members of the University of Oklahoma chapter singing a song with racist lyrics.