Last Thursday was supposed to be the beginning of the end of Delta Kappa Epsilon’s (DKE) suspension. To start the process of reinstatement, DKE had to seek the approval of their peer organizations on Greek Council, after which they would need to make a petition to the Student Life Committee before getting final approval from a Student Council vote. However, on Jan. 30, Greek Council rejected their petition, putting a halt to the fraternity’s efforts to return in the fall 2020 semester. Six students—following their submission of an over-70-page petition—delivered a presentation to representatives from every chapter of Kenyon’s Greek life, arguing for the fraternity’s reinstatement. After a series of questions from every chapter present, the delegates denied the petition via a secret ballot.
“We’re disappointed with the petition not passing,” Andrew Kotler ’21 said. “But we’re committed to making the changes necessary to get it passed and go forward.”
Expressing regret for their organization’s history of branding, the petitioners—Kotler, Amir Brivanlou ’21, Nate Saindon ’21, Andrew Gibbens ’21, Winston Reid ’21, John Scandale ’20 and Brian Yoshino ’21 (not present)—stressed that hazing, particularly branding, had no place in DKE or anywhere on campus. The practice of branding fraternity members is widely reported as a staple DKE tradition. The petitioners continued to affirm that a reformed DKE would be committed to transparency regarding its activities. Their outline for a new DKE featured a new member education program where national DKE members, alumni and administration staff would be invited to sit in on all new member education events. Additionally, in an effort to counteract the perception that DKEs are secretive and isolated, the petitioners discussed creating partnerships with Kenyon’s Sexual Respect Peer Alliance (SRPA) and local schools in Knox County.
Suspension of DKE, which was Kenyon’s first fraternity, started with an anonymous letter. Vice President of Student Affairs Meredith Bonham ’92 received a note—slid under her office door—alleging that a campus fraternity branded its members. After asking for the suspected group to step forward, Bonham and President Decatur both received a letter from a nameless fraternity believing themselves to be the accused. This letter requested clemency if the group identified themselves. Bonham denied clemency, but said the administration would look favorably upon the group if they came forward. The group—later reported as Delta Kappa Epsilon—revealed themselves soon after. After launching an investigation and finding evidence of branding, among other incidents of hazing, the College suspended DKE in the spring of 2018. In early December of 2019, the administration approved Delta Kappa Epsilon to begin the process of probationary reinstatement.
The DKE petitioners agree that the Greek Council gave a fair hearing, and recognize that the Greek community found problems in their presentation. Their next steps are to communicate with other Greek organizations and implement their feedback.
“I think it’s useful to see campus attitudes when it comes to our petition,” Brivanlou said. “It’ll be good to get feedback from other groups to see how we can improve and do better.”
DKE is the third Greek organization to petition the Greek Council and be rejected the first time around. The first two—Phi Kappa Tau and Alpha Sigma Tau—both petitioned the Greek council to establish themselves as brand-new Greek organizations.
“It’s interesting to see that trend continue,” Associate Director of Student Engagement Sam Filkins said. “[Phi Kappa Tau and Alpha Sigma Tau] started new, but the process is the same. We’re looking at this group of seven petitioners as new.”
Despite this trend, Filkins is unsure if the process to reinstate DKE will be the same. The organization’s history of feuds with other groups may affect their ability to return. Filkins will continue to work with the petitioners to figure out what steps to take next.
“I was a part of a petitioning group to bring a fraternity back onto campus in my undergrad,” Filkins said. “I have a little experience going through it, and I have experience as an administrator, so I’m trying to help guide [DKE] through this process.”