In May, Yale’s Delta Kappa Epsilon chapter lost its lease on the two Lake Place houses it had occupied since the early ’90s, after they were sold to new owners. According to real estate manager John Maturo ’76, who advised the former owner who leased to DKE and now advises the properties’ new owner, the decision not to renew the fraternity’s lease was the product of four years of disruptive behavior and misconduct complaints.
“The fraternity had a difficult time maintaining reasonable conduct and behavior,” said Maturo, who was a member of DKE as a first year at Yale and also served in Yale’s Office of Facilities and Yale University Properties for 14 years. “I was part of this social set as an undergrad, but in no way did we behave like they do now. … I have no interest in knowing where DKE is going next.”
Neither DKE’s Yale chapter nor the national organization responded to requests for comment on this story.
In 2013, James Bishop ’56, who joined DKE as an undergraduate at Yale, purchased the houses in an effort to support the fraternity when a dispute among DKE’s national board members threatened the Yale chapter’s existence. Bishop died on May 24, six days after the Lake Place houses were sold to the Clifford Group, a real estate company that specializes in buying distressed properties in Connecticut quickly for cash. Maturo, who is advising the Clifford Group, emphasized that the decision to sell the DKE houses was part of a larger liquidation effort and not directly related to the fraternity. Still, he said, he advised Clifford Group President Jeff Tomek not to rent to any fraternities and to “steer very clear of DKE.”
Maturo — whose wife Heidi served as the houses’ property manager under Bishop’s ownership — said that DKE members did not respect the property and racked up large repair bills every year. Bishop was concerned by DKE members’ rowdy behavior and wanted to “normalize” their conduct, Maturo said. Bishop once invited DKE brothers to his personal home for a formal dinner and urged them to host more “gentlemanly social events.”
Despite these efforts, the fraternity’s behavior remained an issue for the house owners. Maturo said he advised Bishop three years ago to stop leasing to DKE, and Bishop did — but just six months later he began leasing to the fraternity again. At that point, Maturo said, he and his wife ended their involvement with DKE because they wanted to avoid potential liabilities related to the members’ conduct.
Maturo said that allegations of sexual misconduct against DKE members were the “last straw” in a long history of “unreasonable behavior.” DKE is currently under investigation by Yale Deputy Title IX Coordinator Jason Killheffer for allegations of a hostile sexual environment.
Now, the houses are being leased to Yale graduate and undergraduate students, as well as visitors to New Haven. Some DKE members are still living in the red house at 73 Lake Place, but their lease strictly prohibits them from conducting any fraternity-related events or hosting parties, according to Maturo.
“The place was rented to them under the condition that they … behave as any normal student with respect for the property,” Maturo said. “If they operate as DKE, they will be punished by the law.”
Associate Vice President of Student Life Burgwell Howard said he has not been in touch with any of DKE’s leadership about where members may be living or if the chapter is seeking a new property.
In 2011, the University banned DKE from campus for five years after pledges chanted, “No means yes, yes means anal!” in front of the Yale Women’s Center.
In January, the News and Business Insider published detailed accounts of sexual assault allegations against DKE brothers, which prompted the fraternity to suspend all social activities and request its national organization to investigate the chapter. The investigation, which ended in March and included no interviews with women, found “no evidence of a culture of sexual hostility or sexual harassment.”
DKE also pledged to implement reforms to create a safer environment, including sober monitors, coed bartenders and bouncers at parties, and maximum house occupancy guidelines. However, additional allegations against the fraternity made headlines in February when the News published eight previously unreported accounts of sexual misconduct against current and former DKE members. Two days later, the University announced Killheffer’s investigation into DKE’s sexual climate.
The fraternity’s presence on Lake Place also drew attention in 2014 when the fraternity Chi Psi applied to occupy a house on the street. In a letter to New Haven zoning commissioners, Associate Vice President for New Haven Affairs and University Properties Lauren Zucker opposed Chi Psi’s bid to occupy 13 Lake Place, expressing concern that another fraternity would worsen issues of noise and trash on Lake Place. At the time, DKE occupied 73 and 79 Lake Place and the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity was at 23 Lake Place, where it still resides.
“Over the years, these community members have consistently reported issues associated with trash and noise from the existing fraternity homes on Lake Place,” Zucker wrote in her letter.
Zucker did not respond to a request for comment on whether the University worked with DKE to resolve these issues.
Four female Yale Law School students also protested Chi Psi’s bid in a letter to the New Haven Board of Zoning Appeals. The women said in the letter that they had been sexually harassed by members of DKE and ADPhi and that fraternity members frequently made “lewd sexual comments and gestures” to women who walked by. Another neighbor, Nicolas Medina LAW ’16 told the News in 2014 that littering and unreasonable noise from the fraternities on Lake Place had been a “continuous issue.”
The Clifford Group purchased the houses at 73 and 79 Lake Place for a combined $395,000 — $56,000 less than Bishop paid in 2013, according to New Haven County public records.
Alice Park | email@example.com
Correction, Sept. 23: A previous version of this article mistakenly stated Heidi Maturo’s first name as Cynthia.