Cornell Temporarily Suspends SAE Fraternity

March 2, 2011 12:00 am0 comments
Michael Stratford

Cornell temporarily suspended Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity Tuesday in response to the death of George Desdunes ’13 early Friday morning. 

University officials said Tuesday that the alcohol involved in the incident likely constituted a violation of Cornell’s recognition policy for fraternities. Under the temporary suspension, SAE will be prohibited from hosting social events, continuing its new member education and engaging in initiation activities.

“Our action to temporarily suspend the fraternity is informed by the information we have received to date and motivated by what we think is best for the campus at this time,” Vice President for Student and Academic Services Susan Murphy ’73 said in a statement. 

“Suspension of SAE activities will continue while the University completes its own investigation into the events that led to Desdunes’ death,” said a statement from Vice President for University Communications Tommy Bruce.

If administrators determine that SAE violated the fraternity recognition policy, the University could issue a longer-term suspension or permanently revoke its recognition of SAE, which would essentially disband the chapter at Cornell.

Eric Barnum ’12, president of SAE, said that he was informed Tuesday morning of the suspension.

“There is nothing to do at this point because it’s a temporary thing while the investigation is still taking place,” Barnum said. “I was told some somewhat vague information [by the University] this morning. There are really no hard facts that can be definite at this point.”

Barnum declined to comment on whether alcohol had been involved in the incident. 

Desdunes was found unresponsive at about 7 a.m. Friday inside the SAE house. The Tompkins County Sheriff said that Desdunes death appears to be related to alcohol. 

The investigation into the death is continuing, and police declined to provide further details on Tuesday.