Delta Kappa Epsilon (ΔΚΕ; also pronounced D-K-E or "Deke") is one of the oldest North American fraternities, with 56 active chapters across America and Canada. The fraternity was founded at Yale College in 1844 by 15 sophomores that were disaffected by the existing houses on campus. They established 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."
The fraternity was founded June 22, 1844, 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: 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 Objectives of Delta Kappa Epsilon are:
Delta Kappa Epsilon administers a charitable organization called the Rampant Lion Foundation. DKE also has championed an organization called 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 dexter rampant lion in the middle.
Within three years of the founding at Yale, chapters were founded at Bowdoin, Princeton University, Colby College, and Amherst College. DKE has grown to 56 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. Although Vanderbilt University claims DKE's first chapter in the South (Gamma chapter, founded in 1847), Vanderbilt University was not founded until 1873. Psi chapter at the University of Alabama was founded in 1847.
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. Delta Kappa Epsilon became an international fraternity with the addition of the Alpha Phi chapter in 1898 at the University of Toronto, Canada.
Delta Kappa Epsilon experimented with expansion to the United Kingdom, but this was not successful, and chapters are located in only the Uniited States and Canada.
As of January 2018, Delta Kappa Epsilon has 9 colonies, Harvard University, Cornell University. University of Colorado - Boulder, University of Texas, University of Western Ontario, North Carolina State, University of Delaware, Simon Fraser University, Texas Tech University, Ithaca College, and the University of Tennessee. However, Ithaca College does not recognize fraternities.
Delta Kappa Epsilon members have included five of forty-five Presidents of the United States.
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, Bradley Palmer, Henry Cabot Lodge, Dick Clark, Tom Landry, David Milch, 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. The dying Edwin S. Rogers (Theta) of Maine was attended to by a Confederate Psi from Alabama, who observed the DKE pin and sent it to the family. During the Spanish–American War, the first American officer to be killed was a DKE member, Surgeon John B. Gibbs (Phi Chi). DKE member J. Frank Aldritch (Psi Phi) 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 2011 Lion Trophy winner was Psi chapter at the University of Alabama. The chapter won this award in the wake of sponsoring a food drive to help give relief to the Tuscaloosa community devastated by tornadoes. The 2012 winner of the Lion Trophy was the University of British Columbia, and 2013's Lion Trophy went to both the Psi chapter and the Iota chapter at Centre College. The 2016 Lion Trophy was awarded to the Rho chapter at Lafayette College.
On June 6, 1892, a pledge was led blindfolded through the street during his fraternity initiation towards Moriarty's Cafe, a popular student hang-out. He was told to run and did so at top speed. He ran into a sharp carriage pole, injuring himself. He was rendered unconscious, but the injury was not thought to be serious at the time. He suffered an intestinal rupture and died five days later of peritonitis.
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."
In 1989, Colgate University banned all DKE activities after the officials found members guilty of hazing, blackballing and other violations of university regulations. 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. 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."
In December, 2008, the University of California, Berkeley, suspended recognition of the local DKE chapter for alcohol, hazing and fire safety misconduct. The chapter never closed, and continued without affiliation or oversight by UC Berkeley. The national office and the alumni association maintained their association with the local chapter. Four years later, the chapter opted not to reapply for recognition by the university and continued as an independent fraternity. In May 2012, during a routine patrol of the campus, the chapter was visited by the County Vice Enforcement Team. Several citations were issued for under-age drinking. And on October 17, 2014, there were reports made to the University of California Police Department of five alleged sexual assaults at this chapter, spread out from Friday through Sunday. The five individuals reported that they had been given "roofies" and sexually assaulted, however no reports were made to the Berkeley Police Department and no charges were pressed.
In October 2010, Yale's DKE chapter came under fire after its members shouted inflammatory and misogynistic chants at an Old Campus pledge ritual. The chapter's president, Jordan Forney, apologized for the fraternity's conduct, characterizing it as a "lapse in judgment." but Yale's feminist magazine Broad Recognition called for administrative action against the leadership of DKE. By October 24, 2010, Dean Mary Miller of Yale College had strongly recommended to the DKE National Executive Director, Dr. Douglas Lanpher, that the chapter at Yale be put on probation indefinitely. Instead, on May 17, 2011, the chapter was suspended for five years. The order bared DKE from conducting any activities on the Yale campus during that time.
In January 2011, the DKE chapter at the University of Alberta had its student group status suspended for five years after hazing video surfaced of pledges being confined in a plywood box, forced to eat vomit, and deprived of sleep, by other fraternity members.
In November 2014, a DKE chapter in Edinburgh had the minutes leaked from a meeting in March 2014 by the University of Edinburgh student newspaper, The Student. The minutes allegedly made reference to comments that joked about rape, sexual harassment, transphobia and hazing. The story gained traction in both national and international media, being picked up by The Independent, The Huffington Post, and Time magazine.