The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any other man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deeds follow his words; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others rather than his own; and who appears well in any company; a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue is safe.
— John Walter Wayland
The brothers of Sigma Alpha Epsilon live by the code of the True Gentleman. The code of conduct for SAE follows the words of John Walter Wayland, who wrote his definition of a true gentleman inthe1930s. His definition won a contest in the Baltimore Sun.
Wayland had his work published in the paper and many other outlets, including a newsletter with an SAE brother for an editor. After seeing the article, the editor, Walter B. Jones sent a copy to the national offices of the fraternity.
Since then the words of Wayland and SAE have become synonymous. Pledges learn the words and the brothers learn how to live them. All pledges are required to memorize and recite the true gentleman.
During the pledging process new members also learn the little things associated with being gentleman. They learn etiquette. They learn how to set a formal dinner setting.
In every chapter of SAE nationwide there is an award given to the brother who best exemplifies the true gentlemen. At University of Alaska Anchorage the award is called the Michael Bernzott True Gentleman Award named after the Alaska Alpha chapter's most active and influential adviser. The award is traditionally given out at the greek formal and last year's winner was Jonathon Stout.