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The Post
Lucas Daprile

Don’t return to sender

The Post's campus editor has mailed back his SAE pin following controversy at the University of Oklahoma.

The post office was empty when I walked in yesterday morning, bearing a package and a letter bound for Evanston, Illinois. The manila envelope, soft on the outside, bubble-wrapped on the inside and bulging slightly on the bottom, felt awkward in my hands.

My visit was a result of the sickening news coming out of the greek life community earlier this week. Members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at the University of Oklahoma were caught on video singing in unison to a clearly practiced, “There will never be a ni--er in SAE. You can hang ‘em from a tree, but they’ll never sign with me, there will never be a ni--er in SAE.”

I am an SAE. Or at least I was. The actions of the “brothers” at Oklahoma are appalling and oppressive. I felt sick when I heard the news.

Yet, this wasn’t the first time I felt ashamed of the actions from some of those in SAE. There was the time Dartmouth’s chapter was accused of unspeakable acts of hazing, the time SAE was named the nation’s deadliest fraternity and the many other times it made headlines for a string of other controversies.

At some late hour Monday night, I sat on my bed twirling my “old gold and Nazarene blue” diamond-shaped pin, a pin given to members after they’re initiated as an active brother. The front displays various fraternity symbols and SAE written in Greek letters. On the back behind the latch, the number 304933 — my badge number — was inscribed.

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The small pin felt heavy, dense as it rolled from my right palm, then to my left. I opened the latch and closed it again. Some brothers still had their pins, others lost them. I kept mine in a safe. As I admired the pin, I thought of the friends who helped me through breakups, homesickness and self-doubt. There are plenty of men at Ohio University and elsewhere who live up to SAE’s creed, the “true gentleman.” I thought of how many of them were among the best friends I ever had.

Then I thought of when the national SAE organization — Nationals, as we called them — suspended my chapter, a process mishandled with caustic disorganization and fueled by fear that Ohio University’s chapter would be its next scandal. I’ll be the first to admit, my chapter was far from perfect. Despite our close bond, we were wrought with stubbornness and apathy.

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I thought of the national fraternity’s overwhelming notoriety and how I had long since lost hope in SAE.

I couldn’t remember the last time I took the pin out of the safe. When I received the pin before spring semester my sophomore year, it represented an everlasting bond between an army of brothers who would never leave my side. On Monday, it felt like a trophy from a social club of which I was persona non grata.

I deserved the pin, there was no doubting that. I spent a semester pledging and then a year after that serving as alumni relations chair for the pre-SAE colony before being formally initiated and receiving that pin. It represented three years of my life. Commitment. Struggle. Brotherhood.

I once wanted so badly to be an SAE, but now I wanted to distance myself from the organization. I slept on my decision, and when I woke up the next morning I knew what I had to do.

A handwritten note accompanied my pin as it slid into the manila envelope. “I no longer wish to be a brother of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. I have returned my pin inside this package,” it read.

I took one last look at my pin. A fire of hopelessness and disgust burned in my stomach, accompanied by choking feelings of nostalgia.

I asked myself if I really wanted to do this, but I knew the answer. I felt as if the fraternity had failed me. Maybe I had failed it, but I still don’t know. All I knew was that I felt angry and I felt hurt.

I wasn’t sure if this was the right decision. I wasn’t sure if it would mean anything at all. But my mind was made up.

I handed the post office worker the now-sealed package and left no return address.

Lucas Daprile is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University and the campus editor at The Post. Email him at

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