By Crystal FambriniAssistant City Editor
A fraternity is back on-campus with a new twist: no more pledges.
After Sigma Phi Epsilon’s national organization decided to pullthe plug on its San Diego State University chapter because of hazingin 1997, it has decided to reestablish the chapter — this timeimplementing a whole new approach.
It is called “The Balanced Man” — a self-paced program that letsthe individual decide how he will go about strengthening hisrelationship with the fraternity and the community.
While pledging, members prove their knowledge and dedication ofthe fraternity to active members who then decide when the entirepledge group is ready to be initiated into the fraternity. Withinitiation comes full member status where members are allowed to votein chapter decisions. Pledges can go the whole semester with thefraternity and then find out the group has rejected them.
But with The Balanced Man program, members are active, immediatelyreceive voting privileges and are able to attend all chapteractivities.
“It’s a different experience,” said Wesley Stolp, director of newchapter development, who came from the fraternity’s nationalheadquarters in Virginia to help with the process. “It’s a littleweird for these guys cause they know at first they are a brother fromday one.”
Sigma Phi Epsilon is currently recruiting members who “areacademically focused, but can have a good time and follow the rules,”Stolp said.
Doug Case, SDSU coordinator for fraternity and sorority life, saidhe foresees similar programs spreading throughout the greek system.
Thefraternity’s chapter house, located at 5712 Hardy Ave., is currentlybeing used as the Shiloh House campus ministry. But the fraternitysaid it is moving back into the residence in time for the Fall 2001school year.
The SDSU chapter closed in May 1997. The fraternity was told itwould be invited to recolonize within four years. And that is exactlywhat it is doing.
Stolp said he tells inquirers up front that the fraternity wasremoved from campus.
“It was a sick chapter,” he said. “I want them to know the historyso they know the consequences of going down that road so they willnot repeat it.
“It’s not something we are running from, it is something we aretrying to address. We are putting together a new group of guys whoare never going to repeat those mistakes again.”
Case said the 1997 incident was the worst case of hazing he hasever seen at SDSU and a fraternity’s national headquarters staffmember said it was the worst hazing he had ever encountered.
One pledge suffered a life-threatening injury because of hazingactivities, wrote Case in a memorandum to the Greek community afterthe case had been investigated.
The memorandum said the violations included: forced consumption ofalcohol, forced consumption of foreign or unusual substances,deprivation of sleep, personal servitude and abusive line-ups.
Interfraternity Council president Anthony Ciccati said the hazingincidents were considered when IFC voted last semester to approve thefraternity’s return to campus. IFC concluded it felt confident thechapter has changed.
Sigma Phi Epsilon is the nation’s largest fraternity with 65percent, or a total of 157 chapters, following the balance program.Chapters must vote if it wants to implement the different program.
So far the fraternity has held two information meetings, hasaccepted 13 members, and is looking for more recruits.
Stolp said the process is going well and plans to hold thefraternity’s first chapter meeting and activity next week. Officerswill also be picked during that time, and training sessions will beheld.
A Sigma Phi Epsilon recruitment meeting will be held today at 8p.m. in the Aztec Center, Presidential Suite. For more information,call (800) 313-1901 ext. 326.