Movin’ on up

The largest fraternity in the world is back on campus, while another will be heading to a new home.

Since January 2008, Sigma Alpha Epsilon has been working to bring back their Illinois Beta chapter, said Mohsin Mehdi, junior in LAS and president of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon colony at the University. After their charter was suspended in May 2004, the chapter needs to follow guidelines set by both their national headquarters and the Interfraternity Council, or IFC, in order to become a full-fledged chapter again. While going through this process, Sigma Alpha Epsilon is considered a colony. Mehdi said they hope to accomplish this within the next six months to one year.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon has a long history at the University. The fraternity was originally founded on campus in 1899, said Ashley Dye, assistant dean of students and coordinator of Greek Affairs.

In 1908, Sigma Alpha Epsilon had their house built at 211. E. Daniel St. in Champaign, Mehdi said. Members of the fraternity lived in the house for 96 years. Throughout the suspension, they have been leasing the house to Acacia, said Michael Morthland, sophomore in FAA and member educator for Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

In 2004, both the Sigma Alpha Epsilon alumni and national headquarters decided it would be best to close the chapter. It was originally shut down because of failure to follow several rules.

“We were recruiting Parkland students, members weren’t paying dues and several other things were going wrong in the fraternity,” Morthland said.

Members plan on moving back into their original house. While the sign out front currently says Acacia, underneath is a concrete slab engraved with the letters Sigma, Alpha and Epsilon, Morthland said. The front of the house also bears the crest of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and two lions that act as a symbol for their fraternity.

Acacia does not yet have any set plans for a house next year.

“It depends on our corporation board and what they determine is the best location,” said Paul Warkins, sophomore in Business and social chair of Acacia. “We’ll find out within the next couple of months what’s going to happen.”

For Sigma Alpha Epsilon, regaining a chapter has been a procedure filled with hard work and many guidelines. In order to begin the process, extension coordinators will visit the campus and recruit a class of gentlemen, said Brandon Weghorst, spokesman from Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s national headquarters.

“We find men who are interested and embody our creed and values,” Weghorst said. “They then become our re-founding father class and must go through a certain number of operations in order to get their charter back.”

In addition to the number of procedures they must go through, the colony must have 35 members, Mehdi said. Members must also participate in philanthropy events and demonstrate to their headquarters that they uphold the fraternity creed.

Though Sigma Alpha Epsilon is not a full-fledged chapter at this time, they are already recognized as members of IFC, Dye said. Specific to IFC, an organization must let them know that it wants to come back. The fraternity must then make a presentation, submit several written materials and go through other processes, Dye said.

Once approved, IFC will vote to make the fraternity an associate member. After one calendar year, the group of students will have to make another presentation and will become full members if the fraternity is approved, she said.

“They (Sigma Alpha Epsilon) have the same full privileges and full responsibilities as all members of IFC,” Dye said.

Over the past four semesters, Sigma Alpha Epsilon has been participating in philanthropy and social events. Members said they feel that it’s important to establish themselves with a renewed focus on service. They have participated in events such as the Dance Marathon and Alpha Epsilon Phi’s AIDS Walk for Life, Mehdi said.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon also has scheduled social events. This semester, they plan to have two exchanges and a semi-formal with hopes of further initiating themselves into the Greek system, Morthland said.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon will continue to recruit on campus, and members of the colony said they hope to accomplish a lot within the next year.

“We hope to have anywhere from 35 to 50 members, have our charter back and establish ourselves on campus,” Morthland said.

Members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon are excited to recruit for the future, Morthland said.

“We look forward to upholding the honor of the 111 years that Sigma Alpha Epsilon had on this campus,” he said.