Delta Kappa Epsilon

Delta Kappa Epsilon (ΔΚΕ), commonly known as DKE 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 who 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."

Delta Kappa Epsilon
FoundedJune 22, 1844 (1844-06-22)
No. 12 Old South Hall, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
MottoΚηροϑεν Φιλοι ἀει (Kērothen Philoi Aei; "Friends From The Heart, Forever")
Colors     Azure (Blue/Navy)
     Gold (Or)
     Gules (Crimson)
SymbolRampant Lion
PublicationThe Deke Quarterly
PhilanthropyRampant Lion Foundation
NicknamesDKE, Deke
HeadquartersP.O. Box 8360
Ann Arbor, Michigan

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.


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:[1] 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:

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.[2]

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.

After sexual assault allegations surfaced following a Yale Daily News investigation few women's sports teams and sororities wanted to fraternize with DKE, and due to declining interest in DKE events the Yale chapter stopped advertising parties, with the exception of the "Tang" event. However, a rival event called "Engender" with hashtag "#boycottDKE" attracted a similar number of students.[3]


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.

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.

Delta Kappa Epsilon experimented with expansion to the United Kingdom, but this was not successful, and chapters are located in only the United States and Canada.

As of July 2018, Delta Kappa Epsilon has 15 colonies, including Harvard University, Cornell University. RPI, University of Colorado - Boulder, University of Texas, University of Western Ontario, North Carolina State, Simon Fraser University, Ithaca College, University of Tennessee, and the University of Illinois - Springfield. However, Ithaca College does not recognize fraternities.

Notable members

Delta Kappa Epsilon members have included five of forty-five Presidents of the United States.

United States Presidents

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.

Vice President

Other notable alumni

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, Brett Kavanaugh, 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.[5] 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 late Dick Clark donated $1 million to the Delta Kappa Epsilon Foundation of Central New York, which handles finances for the fraternity's chapters across the U.S.[6]

Purpose of Chapters

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 include leadership, chapter improvements, and community service.[7] Each of these areas is used in awarding the overall award called the Lion Trophy.

The 2011 Lion 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] 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.[10][11][12][13]

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."[14]

In New Orleans in 1987 dozens of fraternity members marched in blackface in a parade in broad daylight.[15]

In 1983, Yale University banned DKE activities allowing them to return a year later but off-campus.[16]

In 1989, Colgate University banned all DKE activities after the officials found members guilty of hazing, blackballing and other violations of university regulations.[17] 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.[18] 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."[19][20]

In 1997, members of DKE at Loyola University New Orleans and Tulane University invited students to celebrate Martin Luther King’s Birthday “with fried chicken from Popeye’s, watermelon and a ‘forty’.”[21]

In December, 2008, the University of California, Berkeley suspended recognition of the local DKE chapter for alcohol, hazing and fire safety misconduct.[22] 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.[23] 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.[24]

In October 2010, Yale's DKE chapter came under fire after its members shouted inflammatory and misogynistic chants at an Old Campus pledge ritual, including "No means yes. Yes means anal".[25] The chapter's president, Jordan Forney, apologized for the fraternity's conduct, characterizing it as a "lapse in judgment."[26] 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.[27] Instead, on May 17, 2011, the chapter was suspended for five years.[28] The order barred DKE from conducting any activities on the Yale campus during that time.[29]

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.[30]

In November 2014, a DKE colony in Edinburgh, since closed, 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.[31] The story gained traction in both national and international media, being picked up by The Independent, The Huffington Post, and Time magazine.

In 2018 after Christine Blasey Ford accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault an old photograph of the Supreme Court nominee surfaced showing two members of DKE marching across the Yale campus, one carrying a flag made from women's underwear. Kavanaugh, who is not in the photograph, was a member of the fraternity when the photograph was taken. One of the members told the student paper that the underwear was obtained consensually, but female classmates said their rooms were ransacked by DKE members while they were in class, saying they were "loud, entitled, pushy and creepy".[3]

See also


  1. Griffin Bartlett, Edward. "Founding of DKE". Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-05. Retrieved 2011-08-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. "The Long Decline of DKE, Brett Kavanaugh's Fraternity at Yale". The New Yorker. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  4. "The Delta Kappa Epsilon Club of New York".
  5. "Poem: Brothers in DKE". DKE. Archived from the original on 3 August 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  6. "Dick Clark donates $1M to college frat". New York Post. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-08-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. Archived 2011-08-14 at the Wayback Machine
  9. Grayson, Wayne. "Tornado relief efforts bring DKE chapter top national award".
  10. Nuwer, Hank (August 22, 2001). Wrongs of Passage: Fraternities, Sororities, Hazing, and Binge Drinking. Indiana University Press. ISBN 025321498X.
  11. "Students' prank caused death". The Monroeville Breeze. June 9, 1892. p. 6.
  12. "Much Sorrow At Yale". The Inter Ocean. June 12, 1892. p. 27.
  13. Dwight, Frederick (2009). "Quarter-Century Record, Class Of 1894 Yale College". Kessinger Publishing. p. 471.
  14. Maureen Dowd, Liberties; President Frat Boy?, The New York Times, April 10, 1999
  15. Richard Fausset and Campbell Robertson, , The New York Times, Feb. 8, 2019
  16. Barbara, Michael; Toeniskoetter, Clara; Anderson, Larissa (October 2, 2018). "Kavanaugh's Classmates Speak Out". NYT (The Daily).
  17. Fraternity at Colgate closed for school year, Schenectady Gazette, July 27, 1989.
  18. Alex Kingsbury, Say It Ain't So: Frats Gone Mild Archived 2013-05-13 at the Wayback Machine, U.S. News & World Report, November 20, 2005.
  19. Whose House? Colgate's House, Inside Higher Ed, March 8, 2006/
  20. Delta Kappa Epsilon Alumni Corp. v Colgate University, 2006 court decision.
  21. Rhoden, William C, . The New York Times, JAN. 25, 1997
  22. "Fraternity May Contest Recent Loss Of Affiliation". The Daily Californian. The Independent Berkeley Student Publishing Co., Inc. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  23. Hunt, Chloe (22 August 2012). "UC Berkeley fraternities consider remaining unaffiliated with campus". The Daily Californian. The Independent Berkeley Student Publishing Co., Inc. Archived from the original on 23 August 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  24. Mehrotra, Karishma (1 August 2012). "Alameda County enforcement team issues students underage drinking citations". The Daily Californian. The Independent Berkeley Student Publishing Co., Inc. Archived from the original on 2 August 2012.
  25. Amanda Raus, Offensive Chants Get Frat Boys in Trouble, NBC News Connecticut, October 15, 2010
  26. Jordi Gasso, Sam Greenberg, "DKE apologizes for pledge chants" Archived 2010-11-08 at the Wayback Machine, Yale Daily News, October 15, 2010.
  27. Hannah Zeavin, "The Last Straw: DKE Sponsors Hate Speech on Yale's Old Campus", Broad Recognition magazine, October 14, 2010
  28. Barbara Goldberg, Ros Krasny and Tim Gaynor, "Yale punishes fraternity for sexist chanting", Reuters, May 17, 2011
  29. "Yale suspends fraternity for raunchy chants", CNN, May 19, 2011
  30. "University's DKE fraternity suspended -". 27 January 2011.
  31. "Leaked frat minutes reveal shocking discussions of rape threats, sexual harassment, transphobia and hazing". 18 November 2014.
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