December 23, 2013

Following Appeal, DKE Will Keep Fraternity House, University Says

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The Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity has had its loss of recognition period reduced from a minimum of three years to two years and will be able to keep its house for the Spring 2014 semester, the University announced Tuesday.

This decision was made by Susan Murphy ’73 Ph.D. ’94, vice president of Student and Academic Services, in response to Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity’s appeal against the University’s initial revocation decision.

According to a University press release, the Cornell University Review Board will allow DKE brothers to reside in the house under certain conditions: the brothers will need to cohabitate with a full-time live-in advisor, will be barred from hosting social events, and will be barred from using alcohol and drugs in the house.

The University’s actions against DKE are the result of an alcohol-related incident that occurred on Aug. 30-31, “involving under age and excessive alcohol consumption, requiring medical transport,” Tracy Vosburgh, assistant vice president for University communications, said in a press release.

Murphy’s decision outlines that any future violation by individual fraternity members will result in their eviction from the facility; however, any group violation will result in the instantaneous shutdown of the house and restoration of the initial three-year recognition revocation.

In addition to the loss of usual fraternity privileges, such as participation in organizations like the Interfraternity Council, brothers will no longer be able to host the DKE International Leadership Conference this upcoming summer. The conference had the potential to bring notable DKE alumni to Cornell’s campus including Frederick W. Smith, a Yale graduate who is the chairman and chief executive officer of FedEx Corporation, Brian Harwitt ’15, chairman of DKE’s oversight committee, said.

If the fraternity passes a membership review after the two-year period of expulsion, the University will restore recognition and place the chapter on provisional recognition status for two years. DKE will be required to have a live-in advisor and conduct a re-colonization process under the oversight of the national fraternity.

A week after issuing the appeal, DKE’s president, Harwitt and the president of DKE’s alumni board met with Murphy and Travis Apgar, associate dean of students, to discuss alternative sanctions and illustrate the fraternity’s progress since being placed under provisional recognition in Nov. 2012. Although Cornell did not accept the fraternity’s main proposal, which suggested the reissuance of provisional recognition and a membership review, the brothers are “very happy to see that something came out of the appeal,” Harwitt said.

According to Harwitt, the shortening of the revocation period is especially important because current sophomores will have the chance to rebuild the fraternity as seniors. Also, all brothers who are living in the house won’t have to scramble to find last-minute accommodations for the Spring 2014 semester.

As a student who partly chose to attend Cornell for what he called its strong Greek system, Harwitt said he hopes that Cornell’s recent Greek-related reforms will only serve to make the system stronger.

“It should be known throughout Cornell’s campus that these fraternities aren’t just places where people ‘socialize and drink’, or whatever the stigma is. They’re a place for people to gain valuable leadership opportunities,” he said. “Cornell is aiming to go along with the same mission we were hoping to, which was building a brotherhood around not only social events but also academic and professional events. They are trying to do this slowly and while it can be hard as current members of fraternities and sororities to see these changes as positive, they will be beneficial in the long run.”