I’m currently in Orlando, FL, cooling my heels after running all over the country speaking the last two or three weeks. Last night, I was watching the news and saw a report about the University of Central Florida’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter. Since UCF’s fraternity/sorority system is one of my clients and I just spoke there a few months ago, this was of particular interest.
Apparently, the SAE chapter at UCF is in trouble for hazing. According to the reports (and this is where I take issue), recently, the police showed up at the fraternity house and were not allowed in because the brothers were in the middle of performing a ritual.
First off, hazing is wrong. Period. Second, this is probably a misreport by the media. Granted, this is going to be splitting hairs of linguistics, but it’s something I take issue with. Allow me to explain…
Ritual is one thing and one thing only – it is that which bonds the brothers together AS brothers. Every fraternity member in the country is known as “brother” because he has experienced that fraternity’s ritual. Therefore, the SAEs at UCF are brothers with the chapter of SAE at UCLA as they are with those at every other school in the country – only because of ritual.
If there is “sideline” stuff going on that involves tradition and hazing, that is not ritual – it is ceremony. And yes, there is a difference. It’s a diff that a fraternity brother should know and (I hope) would not mistake.
What does this mean to the average person? Very little. Just please know that if this particular chapter of SAE at this particular university has done something wrong, that is only, ONLY them – it is not indicative of any other fraternity at any other school.