Apr 212011
Authors: Erin Udell

In late 2006, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) Fraternity house closed its doors after 80 years at 306 West Laurel St.

But with a new school year and location, the fraternity’s President AJ Gowdy hopes to usher in a fresh era for SAE at CSU with a brand new, one-of-a-kind fraternity lodge.

“We have the same facilities,” Gowdy said of the 3,000-square-foot lodge, which features a couch-filled common room, a full catering kitchen and a large meeting room—all located on the first floor of the Flats on the Oval building.

The one thing not offered to members is actual lodging — a new trend in greek-life housing across the nation.

“I’d say it’s a step in the right direction for where fraternities are going,” Gowdy said, adding that, by not offering room and board, SAE’s membership fees are, at $200 per semester, considerably lower than that of other chapters on campus.

“This organization is a huge opportunity for people to become leaders,” Gowdy said. “And the lodge also gives the opportunity for sharing and for bonding.”

At its peak, SAE had almost 120 members it was one of the largest fraternities on campus before the 2004 alcohol-related death of CSU student Samantha Spady at the Sigma Pi house, which caused fraternities to become “dry”—prohibiting the consumption of alcohol.

“From that time forward (after going dry) the membership started to decline a little more,” said Bill Woods, SAE’s long-time advisor who the lodge is named after. “Let’s say we had 100 guys in the house and the next fall we only had about 75. It just started to go down, but I think that was pretty common across the board for fraternities.”

After a freshman student was involved in an alcohol-related incident in the fall of2006, Woods said the fraternity house ultimately had to close its doors and go through a membership review, restarting the chapter in 2007 with almost 30 members.

“As far as the house itself, we had been looking for some time at other alternatives because of the lower membership,” Woods said. “It was built in 1927 and had a lot of mileage on it.”

After looking into refurbishing the house, which would cost upwards of $2 million, Woods started looking into other housing options.

“We didn’t know if we could raise that kind of money, so we started looking for alternatives and we said,
‘Well let’s start looking at a lodge,’” Woods said. “At that point we got together as an alumni group and entered into this agreement with Brinkman Partners to build this apartment complex and, within it, have the lodge.”

But with pieces of metal fencing from the original house in the lodge’s outdoor patio area, as well as a brick from the former residence inside, members are often reminded of SAE’s past at CSU.

As the chapter advisor, Woods, who is known as “Colonel” within the fraternity, is also acknowledged in the lodge with an honorary plaque recognizing his dedication to CSU Greek Life and SAE.

“He’s been our adviser for a long time,” Goudy said. “If it wasn’t for Colonel, we probably wouldn’t be on campus.”

After graduating from CSU in 1958, Woods went on to a 25-year career in the U.S. Army before coming back to Fort Collins to work at a law firm and provide adult leadership as SAE’s advisor in 1980.

“I’m very happy to be a greek; some of my best friends in the world were in SAE,” Woods said, adding that his wife was a CSU greek and his two sons and father were also in SAE.

“We have excellent programs –– programs that lead you to open a lot of doors not only as an undergraduate, but also in your post-graduate life,” Woods added.

With some of the lowest membership rates in the fraternity’s history on campus, Woods and Gowdy both stressed how much the lodge can offer to its current and future members.

“It’s great. If I have an hour, I can come over here and sleep and not look creepy on campus,” Gowdy said. “I just look at all of these empty rooms and bookshelves. It’s just waiting for guys to fill it.”
Senior Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at news@collegian.com. _

Learn more

  • Want to learn more about SAE? Shoot an e-mail to SAEColoradoDelta@gmail.com.
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