Delta Kappa Epsilon
FoundedJune 22, 1844; 179 years ago (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, MI

Delta Kappa Epsilon (ΔΚΕ), commonly known as DKE or Deke, is one of the oldest fraternities in the United States, with fifty-six active chapters and five active colonies across North America. It was founded at Yale College in 1844 by fifteen sophomores who were discontented with the existing fraternity order on campus. The men 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."[1]


Delta Kappa Epsilon was founded on June 22, 1844, in room number twelve in the corner of Old South Hall on the campus of Yale College in New Haven, Connecticut.[1] Its fifteen founders were:[1]

At this meeting, the Fraternity's secret and open Greek mottos were devised, as were the lapel pin design and secret grip. The open motto became – "Kerothen Philoi Aei" – "Friends From The Heart, Forever."

Central to the values of Delta Kappa Epsilon are its objects:

The objects 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]

Within five years of the founding of Phi chapter at Yale, chapters were installed at Bowdoin College, Princeton University, Colby College, Amherst College, University of Nashville and University of Alabama.

Despite traditionally selecting and installing ΔΚΕ chapters along the Eastern Seaboard, ΔΚΕ holds a strong reputation as a Southern fraternity. Between 1845 and 1846, thirteen of the 38 of the active members of the Phi chapter at Yale were Southerners. Although Vanderbilt University, would not be founded until 1873, the Gamma chapter of ΔΚΕ was founded in Nashville, 25 years prior, in 1847. Also that year, the Psi chapter at University of Alabama and then Chi chapter at Mississippi would firmly root Delta Kappa Epsilon as an institution steeped in southern heritage.

Delta Kappa Epsilon's first West Coast chapter was founded at the University of California, Berkeley on Halloween night, 1876. The Mu chapter in Hamilton, New York at Colgate University is one of the few with a Temple, open only to DKE member initiates of the Mu chapter. The Lambda chapter at Kenyon College built the first fraternity lodge in 1854. Delta Kappa Epsilon became an international fraternity with the addition of the Alpha Phi chapter in 1898 at the University of Toronto, Canada. Expansion to the United Kingdom had little success. Today, ΔΚΕ chapters are located only in the United States and Canada.

The Cornell chapter house is a National and Ithaca Historic Landmark.

The fraternity's first convention was held in New Haven, Connecticut on December 23, 1946.


The ΔΚΕ Flag consists of three bands of color: Azure (blue, truth), Champagne (gold, fidelity), and Gules (crimson, courage) with a dexter rampant lion in the middle band. ΔΚΕ flags have been carried to the North Pole by its discoverer, Admiral Robert Peary and to the Moon by astronaut Alan Bean. Adorning the active pin are the Greek letters Δ Κ Ε etched downward, diagonally across an ivory scroll and centered atop an onyx diamond, encased in rope-textured gold trim and stars gracing each of the four corners. Active members' initials for their given name and number as initiated in the chapter complete the active pin. Delta Kappa Epsilon pledges wear a triangle-shaped lapel pin with the same heraldic colors of Azure, Champagne & Crimson, with gold facing upward & always on collared shirts


Community service is a major focus for each chapter of ΔΚΕ, in addition to the social aspect that integrates collegiate academics with Greek system of fraternities and sororities. Chapters compete and are awarded equally on merits of leadership, chapter improvement and community service.[3] The Lion Trophy is awarded each year to the chapter with most notable achievements in each category.


Main article: List of Delta Kappa Epsilon chapters

ΔΚΕ has grown to fifty-six chapters and has initiated over 85,000 members across North America.

Delta Kappa Epsilon Club of New York

The Yale Club's main entrance on Vanderbilt Avenue, home of The Delta Kappa Epsilon Club of New York

Members of Delta Kappa Epsilon who have completed their undergraduate education are eligible for membership in The Delta Kappa Epsilon Club of New York.[4] The DKE Club was founded on May 9, 1885,[5] occupying several different clubhouses throughout Midtown Manhattan[6] including 30 West 44th Street which it purchased from the Yale Club of New York City in 1916.[7] After renovations totaling $75,000, the clubhouse opened in January 1917. However, just nine years later the Club relocated again when it sold the building to the Army and Navy Club of New York.[8]

Partially due to the Great Depression, in 1932, the DKE Club entered into an affiliation with the Yale Club of New York whereby members would have the same access to its clubhouse and facilities as the 11,000 members of the Yale Club itself.[9] Designed by James Gamble Rogers, the clubhouse is located at 50 Vanderbilt Avenue across from Grand Central Terminal. Upon opening its doors in 1915, the building became the largest clubhouse in the world and continues to be the largest college clubhouse in existence today.[10]

The club has often hosted dinners and other events for notable alumni members of the fraternity such as polar explorer Robert Peary (who took a Deke flag to the North Pole with him in 1909).[11]

Notable members

Main article: List of Delta Kappa Epsilon members

President Theodore Roosevelt

United States presidents

Vice presidents

Other notable members

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, Ron DeSantis, Bradley Palmer, Henry Cabot Lodge, Dick Clark, Tom Landry, David Milch, and George Steinbrenner.[12] ΔΚΕ 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 member Theodore Winthrop of Phi chapter. The dying soldier, Edwin S. Rogers (Theta), of Maine was attended to by a Confederate Psi from Alabama, who noted Rogers' ΔΚΕ pin and sent it to the family.[13] During the Spanish–American War, the first American officer to be killed was a fraternity member, Surgeon John B. Gibbs (Phi Chi). ΔΚΕ member J. Frank Aldritch (Psi Phi) died when the USS Maine was sunk.

The fraternity has fifteen Medal of Honor recipients: George N. Bliss (Delta), Deming Bronson (Kappa Epsilon), Allen Buchanan (Psi Phi), Richard E. Fleming (Phi Epsilon), George W. Ford (Zeta), Webb Hayes (Delta Chi), Ruel Milton Johnson (Omicron), Charles Mattocks (Theta), Samuel E. Pingree (Pi), Adolphus Staton (Beta), Wager Swayne (Phi), Edward N. Whittier (Upsilon), and Eri D. Woodbury (Sigma).

Yung Wing, the first Chinese graduate from an American university in 1854, was a member of the Phi chapter.


In 1846, one year after establishing the Zeta chapter at Princeton University and reportedly very unpopular with staff, the chapter was kicked off campus. The chapter was reinstated six years later and again removed from campus and the charter revoked. Only 69 members were initiated during the chapter's brief existence.

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.[14][15][16][17]

In 1967, The New York Times reported on "frat-branding", the alleged use of a hot branding iron to make a Δ shaped scar on new fraternity members. The Yale chapter's then-president George W. Bush stated that they were "only cigarette burns."[18]

In New Orleans in 1987, dozens of ΔΚΕ fraternity members marched in blackface in a parade in broad daylight.[19]

In 1989, Colgate University banned all ΔΚΕ activities after the officials found members guilty of hazing, blackballing and other violations of university regulations.[20] In 2005 Colgate University barred the fraternity from campus for refusing to sell its house to the school and join a new student-residence initiative. ΔΚΕ filed a lawsuit charging that the school violated its right to free association as well as antitrust laws by monopolizing the student housing market.[21] 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."[22][23]

In 1989 Virginia Tech banned all ΔΚΕ activities on campus and asked the national office to revoke its charter after reports of a racially tinged hazing incident during a pledge trip to Kenyon College in Ohio surfaced on campus. After the allegations emerged the Virginia Tech administration under President James D. McComas acted swiftly and terminated the registration of DKE and ended its affiliation with the university less than a week later. Allegedly, a white ΔΚΕ pledge had asked a black student at a Kenyon College party in Gambier, Ohio if he could kiss her while another pledge photographed them. The pledge had been instructed to do something unusual during the trip and bring back photos to prove it. After friends of the woman learned of the incident, an argument ensued and the Virginia Tech pledges were escorted off the Kenyon College campus.[24] Its charter was not revoked and the DKE chapter continued to operate in its off-campus house in Blacksburg despite the ban. Through the efforts of influential Virginia Tech DKE alumni and university donors, the chapter was ultimately re-instated in the mid-1990s.

In 1997, members of ΔΚΕ 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’.”[25]

In December 2008, the University of California, Berkeley suspended recognition of the local DKE chapter for alcohol, hazing, and fire safety misconduct.[26] 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.[27] In May 2012, during a routine patrol of the campus, the County Vice Enforcement Team visited the chapter. Several citations were issued for underage drinking.[28]

In October 2010, Phi chapter at Yale came under fire after its members shouted inflammatory and misogynistic chants at an Old Campus pledge ritual, including "No means yes. Yes means anal".[29] The chapter's president, Jordan Forney, apologized for the fraternity's conduct, characterizing it as a "lapse in judgment."[30] but Yale's feminist magazine Broad Recognition called for administrative action against the leadership of ΔΚΕ. By October 24, 2010, Dean Mary Miller of Yale College had strongly recommended to the ΔΚΕ National Executive Director, Dr. Douglas Lanpher, that the chapter at Yale be put on probation indefinitely.[31] Instead, on May 17, 2011, the chapter was suspended for five years.[32] The order barred ΔΚΕ from conducting any activities on the Yale campus during that time.[33]

In January 2011, the ΔΚΕ chapter at the University of Alberta had its student group status suspended for five years after a hazing video surfaced of pledges being confined in a plywood box, forced to eat vomit, and deprived of sleep, by other fraternity members.[34]

In November 2014, a ΔΚΕ 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 referred to comments that joked about rape, sexual harassment, transphobia and hazing.[35] 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 surfaced showing two members of ΔΚΕ 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 ΔΚΕ members while they were in class, saying they were "loud, entitled, pushy and creepy".[36]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Griffin Bartlett, Edward. "Founding of DKE". Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  2. ^ "About". Retrieved 2023-04-07.
  3. ^ "Delta Kappa Epsilon". Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-08-29.
  4. ^ "Delta Kappa Epsilon New Member Education Manual" (PDF). Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  5. ^ "A Panorama of DKE by Duncan Andrews". Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  6. ^ "More Than A Century of Joviality by Henry T. Berry, Lambda '51 (Deceased) and updated by Clint Blume, III Mu '79". Retrieved August 5, 2020. [sic]
  7. ^ "NYC Landmark Preservation Commission Landmark Designation Report "(former) Yale Club of New York, now Penn Club"" (PDF). Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  8. ^ "Daytonian in Manhattan "The 1901 Yale Club (now Penn Club) -- No. 30 West 44th Street"". 28 April 2012. Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  9. ^ "The Delta Kappa Epsilon Club of New York In residency at The Yale Club of New York City". Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  10. ^ "History of The Yale Club". Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  11. ^ "FOTW Flags Of The World website: Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity (U.S.)". Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  12. ^ "The Deke Quarterly by Delta Kappa Epsilon Quarterly". Issuu. 22 June 2019. Retrieved 2021-11-19.
  13. ^ "Poem: Brothers in DKE". DKE. Archived from the original on 3 August 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  14. ^ Nuwer, Hank (August 22, 2001). Wrongs of Passage: Fraternities, Sororities, Hazing, and Binge Drinking. Indiana University Press. ISBN 025321498X.
  15. ^ "Students' prank caused death". The Monroeville Breeze. June 9, 1892. p. 6.
  16. ^ "Much Sorrow At Yale". The Inter Ocean. June 12, 1892. p. 27.
  17. ^ Dwight, Frederick (2009). "Quarter-Century Record, Class Of 1894 Yale College". Kessinger Publishing. p. 471.
  18. ^ Maureen Dowd, Liberties; President Frat Boy?, The New York Times, April 10, 1999
  19. ^ Richard Fausset and Campbell Robertson, [1], The New York Times, Feb. 8, 2019
  20. ^ Fraternity at Colgate closed for school year, Schenectady Gazette, July 27, 1989.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ Whose House? Colgate's House, Inside Higher Ed, March 8, 2006/
  23. ^ Delta Kappa Epsilon Alumni Corp. v Colgate University, 2006 court decision.
  24. ^ "Racial Incident Leads Va. Tech To Oust Fraternity". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2021-11-19.
  25. ^ Rhoden, William C, [2]. The New York Times, JAN. 25, 1997
  26. ^ "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.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ Amanda Raus, Offensive Chants Get Frat Boys in Trouble, NBC News Connecticut, October 15, 2010
  30. ^ Jordi Gasso, Sam Greenberg, "DKE apologizes for pledge chants" Archived 2010-11-08 at the Wayback Machine, Yale Daily News, October 15, 2010.
  31. ^ Hannah Zeavin, "The Last Straw: DKE Sponsors Hate Speech on Yale's Old Campus", Broad Recognition magazine, October 14, 2010
  32. ^ Barbara Goldberg, Ros Krasny and Tim Gaynor, "Yale punishes fraternity for sexist chanting", Reuters, May 17, 2011
  33. ^ "Yale suspends fraternity for raunchy chants", CNN, May 19, 2011
  34. ^ "University's DKE fraternity suspended -". 27 January 2011.
  35. ^ "Leaked frat minutes reveal shocking discussions of rape threats, sexual harassment, transphobia, and hazing". 18 November 2014.
  36. ^ "The Long Decline of DKE, Brett Kavanaugh's Fraternity at Yale". The New Yorker. Retrieved 18 September 2019.