America's "Deadliest" Fraternity Eliminates Pledging

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RENO, NV - A fraternity once again becomes the center of controversy. Sigma Alpha Epsilon, one of the oldest and largest in the country, must drop a traditional ritual after being labeled the deadliest fraternity.

A fresh crop of students eagerly waits for a chance to be part of the Greek life in college. Pledges are known to have to memorize facts of the fraternity and sorority and go through several tests in order to become one part of the family. However, for SAE, that's all changed.

"It's kind of like a clique and if you're not a part of it, then you don't fit in," said one University of Nevada, Reno freshman.

"It's a great experience. It's very hard, but the more I got involved, the faster I learned about communication, but also organizing myself," said one student.

When joining a fraternity or a sorority, students have to get a bid. Once you get one, they go through a series of tests called pledging to become officially initiated.

"It is secret and it's something that I get to enjoy and only experience with my pledge sisters and the organization itself," said a member of the sorority Lambda Phi Xi.

For more than a century, SAE has become one of the most popular fraternities in the country, but after allegations of its high-profile hazing and deaths tied to its events, the fraternity has become the deadliest.

"It sets a bad reputation on everybody else because that just one organization does something; it sets a bad example on somebody else," said one student.

To protect the fraternity's reputation, the SAE national chapter has dropped the pledging process entirely, but what's a fraternity without its pledges?

"The entire chapter... they've gotten rid of a new member education program and they have a full membership education program that will actually retain members better and actually make members better throughout their lives," said Dennis Campbell, coordinator of fraternity and sorority life at UNR.

It's called "The True Gentleman Experience." Members will be reviewed annually to create a fair and equal opportunity for all.

"I think it's a great program," Campbell said. "It's going to give a better membership experience and they also have programming for alumni so after they graduate to continue their membership experience."

Campbell says the new system will allow the fraternity to take in new members throughout the year. All SAE pledges have to be initiated by Tuesday, and anyone offered a bid will be initiated within four days. As for other fraternities and sororities on campus, Campbell says they haven't followed suit, but a decision to drop pledging will be up to their respective national chapters.