AKRON, Ohio - A week after hazing allegations resulted in criminal charges against members of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity in Akron, another fraternity which is represented on the University of Akron's campus, has announced sweeping changes in its national policy on pledging new members.
The Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity is eliminating its pledge process altogether, establishing much shorter induction process for new members it calls the "true gentleman experience."
In a news release on its national website, the fraternity announced "new-member (pledge) programming will be eliminated completely from our operations, and the classification of new member (pledge) will no longer exist. All chapters and colonies will be required to implement this important change."
In a YouTube video explaining the change, the fraternity's Eminent Supreme Archon, Brad Cohen, explains the policy is intended to try and repair the image of the fraternity which has been tarnished nationally in recent years by hazing incidents and even deaths.
"As an organization, we have been plagued with too much bad behavior which has resulted in loss of lives, negative press and large lawsuits," said Cohen in his video.
The fraternity's news release says its Supreme Council decided to enact this change between conventions in order to protect Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s future and to eliminate a class structure between our new members and our active members.
The Akron chapter of the fraternity, with 26 members, endorsed the changes on its Twitter account.
"There's been a lot of bad press lately about fraternities and mine in particular you know with hazing allegations and things like that and if this is what we need to do tell the press and the people at home hey, we are not about hazing; we stand against hazing," Akron Chapter President Logan Boggs told FOX 8 News on Monday.
The Akron chapter will induct its first three members under the new policy on Tuesday.
All just received their bids (invitations) to join on Friday and would ordinarily undergo a weeks-long pledge process.
The release from the nation chapter explains "the education of our members will shift from a new-member (pledge) term to a holistic educational period in which members learn about the Fraternity’s values, mission, creed and history and develop personally over the course of their collegiate tenure. In addition, the goal is to provide the skills necessary for our members to excel in the professional world once they graduate."
At Kent State University, the fraternity is just begining to re-establish itself after recent incidents that involved allegations of hazing, according to Colony President Colin Otubu.
"We came back last fall from being kicked off, from being kicked off campus, but with all new guys we started with new guys, everyone's brand new. We are all nice, genuine, true gentlemen, guys that just want to set a good example," said Otubu.
Otubu admitted he was not pleased at first with the change in policy but said he understands what the fraternity is trying to do and will comply.
The Kent State colony is trying to re-gain its charter as a full-fledged Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at the university.
Nationally, the fraternity is one of the largest with 226 chapters, 15 colonies and more than 14,000 undergraduate members.
It is also one of the oldest, celebrating 158 years old this past Sunday.
Some believe the change in policy will be one that other fraternities will follow.
"Sigma Alpha Epsilon is one of the largest fraternities in the nation and so for us to make such a big step like this, I think it's really going to set the standard for how fraternities are going to interact with people coming into college here over the next few years," said Boggs.