Delta Kappa Epsilon (ΔΚΕ; also pronounced D-K-E or "Deke") is one of the oldest North American fraternities with 52 active chapters in the United States and Canada. Delta Kappa Epsilon was founded at Yale College in 1844 by 15 men of the sophomore class part of whom hadn't been invited to join the two existing societies among others who had been invited to join. They therefore formed their own fraternity to establish a fellowship "where the candidate most favored was he who combined in the most equal proportions the gentleman, the scholar, and the jolly good fellow."

Since then Delta Kappa Epsilon has produced five presidents of the United States (more than any other fraternity), has had its flag flown on the first expedition to the North Pole and again on a manned landing to the moon. The private Gentleman's club the DKE Club of New York was founded in 1885 and is currently in residence at the Yale Club of New York City.

Founding[edit | edit source]

The fraternity was founded June 22, 1844,[1] in room number 12 Old South Hall, Yale College, New Haven, Connecticut. At this meeting, the Fraternity's secret and open Greek mottos were devised, as were the pin and secret handshake. The open motto is "Kerothen Philoi Aei" ("Friends from the Heart, Forever").

The fifteen founders were:[2] William Woodruff Atwater, Dr. Edward Griffin Bartlett, Frederic Peter Bellinger, Jr., Henry Case, Colonel George Foote Chester, John Butler Conyngham, Thomas Isaac Franklin, William Walter Horton, The Honorable William Boyd Jacobs, Professor Edward VanSchoonhoven Kinsley, Chester Newell Righter, Dr. Elisha Bacon Shapleigh, Thomas DuBois Sherwood, Albert Everett Stetson, and Orson William Stow. This first Chapter was denoted Phi chapter.

The Objects of Delta Kappa Epsilon are:

The Cultivation of General Literature and Social Culture, the Advancement and Encouragement of Intellectual Excellence, the Promotion of Honorable Friendship and Useful Citizenship, the Development of a Spirit of Tolerance and Respect for the Rights and Views of Others, the Maintenance of Gentlemanly Dignity, Self-Respect, and Morality in All Circumstances, and the Union of Stout Hearts and Kindred Interests to Secure to Merit its Due Reward.[3]

Delta Kappa Epsilon administers a charitable organization called the Rampant Lion Foundation. DKE also has championed an organization call Restore Our Associational Rights ("ROAR") which campaigns for the freedom of fraternities and Greek organizations in general to operate without interference and discrimination from university administrations or others.

The pin of Delta Kappa Epsilon shows the Greek letters ΔΚΕ on a white scroll upon a black diamond with gold rope trim and a star in each corner. DKE's heraldic colours are azure (blue), or (gold), and gules (crimson). Its flag is a triband of those colours with a left-facing rampant lion in the middle.

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Chapters[edit | edit source]

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The Yale Club's main entrance on Vanderbilt Avenue, home of The Delta Kappa Epsilon Club of New York

Within three years of the founding at Yale, chapters were founded at Bowdoin, Princeton University, Colby College, and Amherst College. DKE has grown to over 51 chapters and has initiated over 85,000 members across North America.

Traditionally an Eastern Seaboard fraternity, DKE's Yale chapter had an early reputation as a Southerner's fraternity. Two of the original founders were from the South and 13 out of 38 members of 1845 and 1846 were from the South. DKE's first chapter in the South was Gamma chapter founded in 1847 (Vanderbilt University) followed by Psi chapter at the University of Alabama in the same year.

Syracuse University's chapter house was used as a safe harbor by Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and William Still during passage into Canada via the Underground Railroad.

Delta Kappa Epsilon's first West Coast chapter was founded at the University of California, Berkeley on Halloween night, 1876. The DKE chapter at Colgate University (Hamilton, NY) is one of the only DKE chapters having a Temple building, one which only can be entered by Mu DKE members. The Lambda Chapter at Kenyon College in 1854 built the first fraternity lodge in America. The Delta Kappa Epsilon Club of New York was founded in 1885 and is currently in residence at the Yale Club of New York City.[4] Delta Kappa Epsilon became an international fraternity with the addition of the Alpha Phi chapter in 1898 at the University of Toronto, Canada. The newest Chapter is the Sigma Xi Chapter at St. Joseph's College (Long Island). The newest Chapter is currently at Auburn University where it is likely to become a prominent chapter within the International Fraternity. This is the third chapter in Alabama behind the chapters of both The University of Alabama and Troy University.

As of May 2012, Delta Kappa Epsilon has seven colonies at Manhattan College, North Carolina State University, Auburn University, University of North Carolina Wilmington, University of Florida, Oklahoma State University and Hampden-Sydney College.

On May 1st 2013, the Oklahoma State University colony was chartered, becoming the Omega Mu Chapter. [5]

Notable members[edit | edit source]

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President Theodore Roosevelt

Delta Kappa Epsilon members have included five of forty-four Presidents of the United States: Rutherford B. Hayes, Theodore Roosevelt, Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush. Vice President of the United States, Dan Quayle, became a DKE brother at DePauw University. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a member of the Alpha Chapter of DKE at Harvard and would be considered the sixth DKE brother to serve as President of the United States; however, the Harvard chapter was de-recognized by DKE International due to the chapter's stance on dual membership with other fraternities.

In the election of 1876, the Republican Party chose between two DKE members, nominating Hayes rather than rival and fellow DKE James G. Blaine. Blaine also ran unsuccessfully for President.

Many American and Canadian politicians, businessmen, sports figures, and artists have been members, including Joe Paterno, Herb Kelleher, J.P. Morgan, Jr., William Randolph Hearst, Cole Porter, Henry Cabot Lodge, Dick Clark, Tom Landry, and George Steinbrenner. DKE flags were carried to the North Pole by its discoverer, Admiral Robert Peary and to the Moon by astronaut Alan Bean.

During the Civil War, the first Union officer killed in battle was DKE member Theodore Winthrop of Phi. During the Spanish-American War, the first American officer to be killed was a DKE member, Surgeon John B. Gibbs (Rutgers). DKE member J. Frank Aldritch (DePauw University) died when the USS Maine was sunk.

Yung Wing, the first Chinese graduate from an American university in 1854, was a member of the Phi chapter of DKE. Later, his citizenship was revoked and he was denied reentry to the United States by the government of Theodore Roosevelt, another member of DKE.

The late Dick Clark donated $1 million to the Delta Kappa Epsilon Foundation in New York, which handles finances for the fraternity’s chapters across the US.[6]

Purpose of Chapters[edit | edit source]

One of Delta Kappa Epsilon's focuses within each Chapter is on community service in addition to the social aspect that goes along with most collegiate academic Greek fraternities.

Each Chapter competes for a number of awards that includes leadership, chapter improvements, and community service.[7] Each of these areas is used in awarding the overall award called the Lions Trophy.

The 2011 Lions Trophy winner was Psi chapter at the University of Alabama.[8] The chapter won this award in the wake of sponsoring a food drive to help give relief to the Tuscaloosa community devastated by tornadoes.[9]

Controversy[edit | edit source]

In 1967, the New York Times reported on "frat-branding" - the alleged use of a hot branding iron to make a "D" shaped scar on new fraternity members. The fraternity's then president George W. Bush stated that they were "only cigarette burns."[10]

In 1989, Colgate University banned all DKE activities after the officials found members guilty of hazing, blackballing and other violations of university regulations.[11] In 2005 Colgate University barred DKE from campus for refusing to sell its house to the school and join a new student-residence initiative. DKE filed a lawsuit charging that the school violated its right to free association as well as antitrust laws by monopolizing the student housing market.[12] In 2006 the Supreme Court of Madison County found that the fraternity had failed to state a cause of action and that its claim was "time-barred."[13][14]

In October 2010, Yale's DKE chapter came under fire after its members shouted inflammatory and misogynistic chants at an Old Campus pledge ritual.[15] The chapter's president apologized for the fraternity's conduct,[16] but Yale's feminist magazine "Broad Recognition" called for administrative action against the leadership of DKE. As of October 24, 2010, Dean Mary Miller of Yale College has strongly recommended to the DKE National Executive Director, Dr. Douglas Lanpher, that the chapter at Yale be put on probation indefinitely.[17] On May 17, 2011, the chapter was put on suspension for five years.[18] The order bars DKE from conducting any activities on the Yale campus during that time.[19]

In January 2011, the DKE chapter at the University of Alberta had its student group status suspended for three years due to hazing activity.[20]

Virginia Glee Club members[edit | edit source]

Main article: Category:Delta Kappa Epsilon members

References[edit | edit source]

  4. DKE Club of New York home page.
  6. "Dick Clark donates $1M to college frat". New York Post. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  10. Maureen Dowd, Liberties; President Frat Boy?, New York Times, April 10, 1999
  11. Fraternity at Colgate closed for school year, Schenectady Gazette, July 27, 1989.
  12. Alex Kingsbury, Say It Ain't So: Frats Gone Mild, US News and World Report, November 20, 2005.
  13. Whose House? Colgate's House, Inside Higher Ed, March 8, 2006/
  14. Delta Kappa Epsilon Alumni Corp. v Colgate University, 2006 court decision.
  15. Amanda Raus, Offensive Chants Get Frat Boys in Trouble, NBC News Connecticut, October 15, 2010
  16. Jordi Gasso, Sam Greenberg, DKE apologizes for pledge chants, Yale Daily News, October 15, 2010.
  17. Hannah Zeavin, The Last Straw: DKE Sponsors Hate Speech on Yale's Old Campus, Broad Recognition magazine, October 14, 2010
  18. Barbara Goldberg, Ros Krasny and Tim Gaynor, Yale punishes fraternity for sexist chanting, Reuters, May 17, 2011
  19. Yale suspends fraternity for raunchy chants, CNN, May 19, 2011
  20. [1] (down)
  • "A Century and a Half of DKE" The Illustrated History of Delta Kappa Epsilon. Copyright 1997. Edited by Duncan Andrews (Rho, 1957), Published by Heritage Publishers, Inc ISBN 0-929690-33-8 Libray of Congress Number 97-70228 Book information accessible online at [2]

External links[edit | edit source]

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