Tales of painting lion statues, Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s symbol, told across the country involve rival fraternities defacing them, and stories that are too blush-worthy to share. Across Lincoln Avenue from the University of Evansville stands the fraternity house of Sigma Alpha Epsilon in the Indiana Epsilon Chapter, which has its own story of a colorful lion.
The statue usually is painted royal purple and old gold, the fraternity’s official colors, but does change throughout the year. It wears an American flag design on Sept. 11 and can be seen in pink and white during October to commemorate National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It also has been painted for members’ weddings and other occasions.
“We also paint the lion for advertising purposes for events that we hold,” says ΣAE member Naveen Fernando, originally from Colombo, Sri Lanka. “Many students at UE know what social event is happening at the ΣAE house simply by looking at the lion.”
Fernando, a rising senior, believes this tradition was established when the statue and house were constructed. He paints the statue with his classmate and fraternity brother, Jacob “J.D.” McCalister — an Evansville native who currently works as a graphic designer at Media Mix Communications in Evansville. The two meet often to discuss ideas and execution for future designs.
Many students enjoy taking pictures with the painted lion, providing another incentive to paint it. Most importantly, the statue represents ΣAE’s identity and brotherhood.
“It is a great bonding opportunity, as brothers usually tend to hang out and give their two cents on the lion when we paint it,” says Fernando. “It also provides a great impression of us for the campus and the community.”
For more information about Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s Indiana Epsilon chapter, visit uesae.com.