Yale Daily News

Delta Kappa Epsilon is staging a return to public life on campus. 

In 2018, widespread complaints of sexual misconduct were the “last straw” for the landlords of the Lake Place house that DKE had occupied since the early 1990s. The group lost their lease and for years their name disappeared from campus life — although the DKE national website has never classified the Yale chapter as an inactive one. 

Now, under the leadership of president Ryan McCann ’24, DKE is returning to the public eye. A post to a new, public Instagram account on April 11 featured pictures from a DKE crawfish boil, “the first annual event being introduced by President Ryan McCann and his new executive board.” The post also announced the return of Tang — an annual drinking competition and party — on May 1. Although the group has held parties or private events under a different moniker in the last years, the Instagram post marks the group’s first public reclamation of the DKE name since its most recent scandal.

McCann, on behalf of Yale’s DKE chapter, declined multiple requests for comment on this article.

Although the University’s Title IX office released a review in response to allegations of a sexually hostile climate within DKE in 2019, the group has never been formally censured by the University. 

“Although unregistered organizations operate independently of Yale College, all Yale College students are subject to the Undergraduate Regulations, which are enforced by the Executive Committee and the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct,” Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun told the News. 

Chun told the News that while Yale College has no regulatory power over Greek life organizations, he advises that all Yale College students who participate in Greek life take advantage of the “training and resources” which are available to the entire student body. 

DKE’s Yale chapter — which boasts alumni like former United States presidents George H.W. Bush ’48 and George W. Bush ’68 and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh ’87 LAW ’90  — has long been a lightning rod for controversy surrounding fraternity culture on Yale’s campus. 

In 2006, the News reported on emotional and physical abuse pledges experienced at the hands of senior DKE members during the group’s “inspiration week.” DKE’s pledging requirements made national headlines in 2010, when a video went viral of first year pledges on Old Campus chanting misogynistic and threatening phrases including “no means yes, yes means anal.” In response, former Dean of Yale College Mary Miller issued a five-year ban on DKE’s presence on campus. 

“What matters most here is that the larger community has addressed the particular fraternity, DKE, and held them responsible and accountable for their actions,” Miller wrote to the student body in the wake of the incident. “What is important to recognize is that DKE has accepted responsibility, opening a new level of discourse on the issue of sexual harassment. This is an opportunity to seize.”

But although the ban theoretically prevented DKE from hosting events on campus or advertising events using University email addresses, it did little to curb the group’s campus presence — DKE’s pledge sizes increased

In October 2016, during the group’s first year officially back on campus, former President Luke Persichetti ’18 told the News that the ban had played “an important part in the cultural shift that has taken place since then.” But just months later, Persichetti was suspended from Yale for “penetration without consent.

DKE faced further scrutiny in 2018, as sexual assault allegations were brought against Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings and a new wave of women came forward to accuse current DKE members of sexual assault. 

In February 2018, days after the News published allegations from eight women against members of the organization, Chun announced a review into “recent concerns brought forward alleging a hostile sexual environment” within DKE. The review was conducted by Yale Senior Deputy Title IX Coordinator Jason Killheffer. 

The same month, DKE announced that it would undertake a series of reforms, largely aimed towards facilitating a safer party environment. These included the addition of women bouncers and bartenders at parties, caps on maximum house occupancy and improved access to drinking water at parties. 

DKE’s on-campus presence was subdued when the fraternity lost the lease on its Lake Place house in May 2018. Real estate manager John Maturo ’76 told the News in 2018 that the allegations of sexual assault against the group were the “last straw” after years of “unreasonable behavior.”

The University review, which came out in January 2019 — almost a year after it was originally announced — did not include specific recommendations or consequences for DKE, but offered general community suggestions, like the addition of mandatory misconduct training for fraternity members and additional all-gender social spaces on campus. 

“I condemn the culture described in these accounts; it runs counter to our community’s values of making everyone feel welcome, respected and safe,” Chun wrote in the email to students in which he announced the report. “I also offer some plain advice about events like these: don’t go to them.”

The University’s inability to formally sanction DKE, Sasha Carney ’22 told the News, meant that it was difficult to prevent the group from returning to the center of campus life even after major sexual misconduct scandals. Carney likened the fraternity to a “little cockroach.” 

Carney was on campus when DKE lost its Lake Place lease, but noted that the institutional turnover of Yale’s student body every four years means that many younger students are unfamiliar with the fraternity’s fraught history. 

“Campus outrage cycles, even though they’re very valuable and a lot can come from them, can only last for so long,” Carney said. “I think they’re relying on the fact that by the time they come back, people might have a vague memory of DKE doing something bad, but they don’t actually know what that something bad entails. They’re not engaged with specifics. There might be a vague aura around it, which first-years looking for parties are happy to shrug off.”  

Mayah Monthrope ’25 told the News that she had heard about sexual assault allegations against DKE members and therefore does not plan to attend any event held by the fraternity.

Rhayna Poulin ’25 told the News that her only exposure to DKE had been in a sociology class she took last semester, where, in a lecture on predatory sexual cultures on college campuses, students watched the viral video of DKE pledges chanting on Old Campus.

“I think if a campus organization is so predatory that it is actually talked about in lectures about sexual assault then there is clearly a problem with that organization,” Poulin said. “There are already incidents of sexual assault connected to Greek life organizations in general and I think the particularly egregious history of this organization means that it is definitley not safe to have them on campus.” 

Poulin doubted the sincerity of DKE’s revamp, noting that members who want to distance themselves from the organization’s problematic past could do so more effectively by disaffiliating with DKE entirely. 

“I do not believe that anyone who associates with DKE (not partygoers, but friends and members of DKE) does so in ‘good faith,’” Joanna Ruiz ’25 wrote in an email to the News. “Being comfortable with being associated with sexual assault is a huge red flag. You cannot ‘rebrand’ to escape consequence.”  

The Yale chapter of DKE was founded in 1844. 

Lucy Hodgman is the editor-in-chief and president of the News. She previously covered student life and the Yale College Council. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, she is a junior in Grace Hopper majoring in English.