When Sigma Alpha Epsilon came under fire after a video leaked featuring some of its University of Oklahoma members singing a racist chant, it was not the fraternity’s first brush with controversy.
Last year, Bloomberg News reported that 15 chapters had been closed or suspended in recent years as a result of hazing.
The fraternity has had 10 deaths linked to drinking, drugs, and hazing since 2006—more than any other fraternity, writes the news site. Why take the abuse? One pledge told the outlet that joining the fraternity was his ticket to a job on Wall Street.
Indeed, the predominantly White fraternity is known as one of the wealthiest and most powerful in the nation, boasting such members as Eliot “Untouchable” Ness, oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, Wall Street titan David Einhorn, and NBA coach Phil Jackson, according to SAE’s Kansas State University chapter.
But it also has a list of powerful people who shape and mold the nation’s government, including, yes, a lot of Republicans. Here are just a few names of notable government and elected officials:
Henry M. “Hank” Paulson Jr.
Paulson, an SAE member at Dartmouth College, left the top job at Goldman Sachs at the cusp of the nation’s financial crisis in 2006 to become the 74th U.S. Secretary of Treasury under President George W. Bush. Time magazine says he is one of the 25 people responsible for the nation’s economic breakdown.
S.C. Sen. Jim DeMint
DeMint joined SAE at the University of Tennessee. The former Republican U.S. senator left office in 2013 to become president of the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank. The group is trying to block attempts in Washington, D.C. to stop a measure that would force religious schools to recognize LGBT student groups or host a gay pride day on campus, thereby violating the beliefs on which the educational institutions were founded, reports Metro Weekly.
Ex-Miss. Gov. Haley Barbour
Barbour joined SAE at the University of Mississippi. He apologized last year for calling President Barack Obama’s policies “tar babies,” Politico reports. That was not the first time his so-called Southern style has drawn charges of racial and cultural insensitivity.
Former Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson
Robertson joined SAE at Washington and Lee University. The Christian leader, a 1988 Republican presidential candidate, is known for inflammatory commentary about race and homosexuality. After a St. Louis grand jury last year failed to indict a Ferguson police officer in the shooting death of unarmed Black teen Michael Brown, Robertson acknowledged discrimination against Blacks, but declared the U.S. racism free. “Police are very careful in dealing with people, they’re trained to be careful with minorities, and the abuses of the past are pretty much a thing of the past,” Robertson said.
William McKinley, the 25th president of the United States
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty