Ethan Vaughan, Asst. News Editor
The Greek community at George Mason University got a little bit bigger this weekend. Sigma Alpha Epsilon, a colony of the national fraternal organization, joined the ranks of Mason’s fraternities and sororities when it was officially chartered in a ceremony at the International Country Club on Saturday night.
The new chapter, which initiated 32 members this weekend, is led by President Saul Gomez, a junior accounting major and “founding father” who was elected to the top post at the start of this semester.
Gomez took over from former president Josh Knox, a senior economics major who declined to seek a third one-year term because he is graduating in May.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s history at Mason began in March 2008, but the roots for the fraternity’s installment here go back much further.
“Starting a chapter was something I’d thought about all through high school,” said Knox. “I’m a legacy. My father was a Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the University of Maryland and my grandfather was one at the University of California at Berkeley, so there was a family connection. I also just wanted to be a member of something meaningful and liked that idea.”
Knox was contacted in the spring of 2008 by Richard Shanahan, the province archon for Sigma Alpha Epsilon over the Commonwealth of Virginia and the District of Columbia.
Shanahan asked if Knox would attempt to establish a SAE chapter at Mason, and when Knox agreed, an interest group was formed.
Once seven people had been recruited to join the effort, the interest group became a colony and embarked on the long process of fulfilling the requirements to attain certification as a full chapter.
“We quickly expanded,” Knox said. “My roommate at the time, Atlee Goodling, had a bunch of friends and a lot of them wanted to join. Then people transferred and at the end of the first semester our numbers were cut in half, but we built back up.”
Over the next two years, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon colony set about meeting the national fraternity’s standards for chartering, which include recruiting 30 dues-paying members with a minimum GPA of 2.3, establishing a working set of bylaws and raising $3,000.
The process entered its final stages in November 2009, when an inspection committee evaluated the Mason students based on 12 core areas.
After the committee approved its chartering, the colony’s application was voted on by the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Supreme Council, upon which a ballot was sent out to all alumni organizations and active chapters, who in turn authorized the creation of a new chapter.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon cites as its leading doctrine an 1899 piece by John Walter Wayland entitled “The True Gentleman,” which emphasizes good will, propriety and humility.
Hondo Davis, a co-adviser to the fraternity, was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the University of Maryland and initiated Knox’s father in 1975.
“The fraternities all have their own hallmarks,” he said. “But the True Gentleman’s Creed guides us through, and we concentrate on community service and scholarship.”
“There are still parties because it is a fraternity, but we work on staying true to the creed and that keeps the guys from doing anything stupid if it’s followed,” said Davis. “I give all the advice possible. It’s satisfying watching their growth in leadership capability.”