Undergraduates are organizing to create a chapter of international fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon, marking a potential increase in the already growing number of Greek organizations at the College.
Last October, the fraternity’s headquarters approved the creation of a colony at Harvard, according to Eric S. Holland, a chapter consultant and adviser for DKE at Harvard. Shortly thereafter, the colony initiated eight Harvard undergraduates and one graduate student as members at MIT’s branch, according to Jimmie Hill ’18, the president of the new colony.
Hill said the group has met with fraternity alumni in recent months to organize the colony, which is currently in the process of recruiting additional students on a rolling basis—three are now pledging—and eventually submitting an application to become a chapter.
If approved, the move would reactivate DKE’s “alpha” chapter at the College, which undergraduates founded in 1851, according to the fraternity's website, but whose charter was revoked in the early 1890s following disputes over dual membership.
Hill said he hopes the reintroduction of the near 200-year-old fraternity at Harvard would allow for a new and diverse group of members.
“We don’t want to resurrect this dinosaur. We don’t want to be your grandfather’s fraternity,” Hill said. “We live in a new world and we want to address the new issues at hand.”
Hill said DKE hopes to solicit alumni help in securing property, with the hope of making the fraternity a “permanent part of Harvard.”
Hill added that the group hopes to differentiate itself from existing social organizations at the College by emphasizing diversity and service to the larger Cambridge and Boston areas.
Several fraternities already exist at the College, including Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Chi, Alpha Epsilon Pi, and Kappa Sigma, which was re-established last year.
“We are a fraternity by definition, yes, but when it comes to actually giving back, performing in the community, I’d feel we’re much more than that,” he said.
Some chapters of DKE have come under national criticism in recent years, particularly at Yale, which hosted the first chapter of the fraternity. In 2011, Yale levelled a five year ban against its DKE chapter after prospective members reportedly chanted controversial phrases, the Yale Daily News reported.
Despite a recent growth in their presence in undergraduate life, Harvard does not recognize many social clubs, including fraternities, sororities, and final clubs. On the broader topic of single-gender student organizations, now-Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana told The Crimson in 2011 that he was “always suspicious of a club that builds itself on gendered exclusivity.”
Associate Dean of Student Life David R. Friedrich wrote in an email that the College does not recognize fraternities or sororities, but “expects students to create safe social environments that are characterized by inclusion, personal responsibility, and care for others.”
—Staff writer Noah J. Delwiche can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ndelwiche.
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