Monday, October 29, 2007

SAE at NMSU Loses Charter

SAE fraternity chapter loses charter
By Renée Ruelas-Venegas/For The Sun-News

LAS CRUCES - After several incidents during the past year and arrests last week during homecoming, Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity has lost its charter at New Mexico State University.

Scott Moore, dean of students, said the charter was revoked Thursday and the fraternity members living in the "Greek Row" home on the NMSU campus would be moved out.

The fraternity said it would appeal.

According to the SAE Web site, the chapter has been associated with NMSU since 1941. It lists 46 members at NMSU.

SAE members had been working with the university on a variety of concerns regarding its code of conduct during the past year, Moore said.

Moore called the fraternity's loss of its charter a "time out to reorganize and rethink through the issues that have hurt the organization."

The fraternity was given a time frame to come into compliance, but Moore declined to specify how much time that entailed.

"There are some fine young men there, and I know personally," Moore said. "There were some poor decisions made."

Moore said incidents involving SAE during homecoming weekend were not the cause of the charter being pulled but rather contributed to it.

Brandon Weghorst, an SAE spokesman for the national headquarters near Chicago, said he has encouraged local members to appeal.

"We believe the sanction was a bit strict and came rather quickly," Weghorst said. "We disagree with the university in that this is a chapter issue. They should have pursued it differently."

Weghorst said individuals should have been held accountable rather than sanctioning the entire chapter.

He did not know if any action would be taken against certain members. Weghorst said that would be determined following the national organization's own investigation.

According to NMSU police, just after midnight on Oct. 20 officers responded to a large party with about 30 people at the SAE house, many of whom appeared to be underage. They found beer cans and a large bottle of vodka.

At least three people were found to have been underage and drinking alcohol at the house, according to police. The fraternity's vice president, Ryan Burtner, 22, was arrested and charged with attempting to sell or give alcohol to minors.

The fraternity also encountered police earlier in the day at homecoming tailgating events when they allegedly were found with a keg of beer in their tent. Kegs are not allowed at NMSU tailgating.

An officer reported that an underage girl was cited for consuming alcohol at the tailgating event, and a man with her, not named in the report, was turned over to New Mexico State Police Special Investigations Division, which handles alcohol violations.

A third police report from the weekend was made on Sunday regarding criminal damage to the SAE house. The report states that it appeared a fire extinguisher was sprayed in the home, leaving white residue. An officer reported that he could not find any fire extinguishers in the home. Several smoke detectors had been pulled out, leaving wires hanging, and there was a broken window.

A crackdown in August at the University of New Mexico resulted in three fraternities being suspended, including the SAE chapter. The SAE suspension came after a member was arrested on charges of having sex with underage girls.

Moore said after a certain amount of time, which he did not specify, the fraternity can petition to return to the university.

"I expect and hope for them to come back," Moore said. "I would welcome them back."
Moore added that this in no way was a reflection of the Greek society on the NMSU campus.
"I've seen some strong students leaders emerge from the Greek system," he said.
Copyright © 2007 Las Cruces Sun-News, a MediaNews Group Newspaper.