A few thoughts on Sigma Alpha Epsilon

By now, you're probably familiar with the outrageous, offensive behavior of (now-suspended) members of the fraternity in Oklahoma.

It sickens me for two reasons. First is the obvious - it’s racist, offensive, and immature. But there's another reason it disgusts me: it goes against every impression I’ve ever had of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

I never joined a fraternity during my undergraduate days. I had a lot on my plate back then. But I did come to respect most of the fraternities and sororities at CMU. And of all of the Greek organizations on campus, I held the highest regard for Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

Almost every interaction I had with SAE members - in student government, residence life, and everything else - was positive. They demonstrated respect, integrity, and commitment in all they said and did.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon members approach the concept of a True Gentleman in a way that I, a non-member, presumably cannot. However, I do know that SAE members take to heart these words by John Walter Wayland:

The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others, rather than his own; and who appears well in any company, a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe.

The SAE members I met at CMU didn't merely talk about honor and virtue. They lived it. And they still do. No racists in Oklahoma can stop me from holding SAE members in high regard, particularly those whom I have had the privilege to know.

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