Back in the day, JP Morgan had no issue with managing the investment account of Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s charitable foundation. Then the bank’s reputation took a hit in the eyes of the regulatory industry, and started paying multi-billion dollar fines, and had its hiring practices in China questioned, and it was forced to reevaluate some of the people with whom it did business. At the same time, SAE was setting records for deaths “linked to drinking, drugs and hazing,” and someone decided JPM had enough bad publicity of its own without being linked to an organization that makes people strip down to their underwear, stand in a trash can filled with ice, and recite a credo about what it means to be a “true gentlemen.”
That JP Morgan, it of $23 billion “to resolve regulatory and criminal investigations,” of rogue whales, of possible Foreign Corrupt Practices violations, decided it could be hurt by an association with SAE was extremely troubling to national President Bradley Cohen. “If JPMorgan is going to turn us down, who’s next?” he wondered aloud to Bloomberg. “What if universities start saying SAE’s not welcome?” The thought was too much to bear, so he did a bunch of thinking and decided that pledging could no longer be part of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon way.
A lot of people, like the parents of kids who died trying to get into the fraternity, thought this was a good move. One Oklahoman, did not.
Renowned as a Wall Street pipeline, SAE boasts prominent alumni such as hedge fund managersDavid Einhorn of Greenlight Capital and Paul Tudor Jones of Tudor Investment Corp. Pickens, whom Cohen consulted before announcing the pledging ban, said through a spokesman that he has reservations about it. “Mr. Pickens believes pledgeship is a key part of fraternity life and helps those who go through it gain an appreciation for the rich history tied to each fraternity,” spokesman Jay Rosser said in an e-mail. Pickens supports a “greater focus” on alcohol and drug awareness, Rosser said. “Either way, he appreciates the tough choice Brad Cohen has made,” Rosser said. “Time will tell if it was a good one.”