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Yesterday, we published a story about how the University of Michigan DKE Chapter was kicked off campus for “merging” with SIG, a rogue fraternity at the U of M. We didn’t have much to go off of besides what had already been reported on.
I feel it’s important that both sides of this debacle be told by the media in this situation, though, and after getting information from a member of the DKE chapter, I feel prepared to tell their story. Here’s their side of things.
This whole ordeal centers around a group of 29 sophomores who denounced their membership in the rogue fraternity SIG in hopes of joining an IFC fraternity this fall. Here is the story of these sophomores, as told in a letter they sent to the Interfraternity Council after DKE was kicked off campus.
To the University of Michigan Interfraternity Council:
In the fall of 2014, we arrived on this campus as freshmen and were interested in rushing a fraternity. Like most incoming freshmen, we did not fully understand what the Interfraternity Council was and we did not know the difference between an “off campus” and “on campus” fraternity.
During rush, as you all know, you are persuaded and enticed by members to join their brotherhood. In an effort to gain targeted rushees, sometimes the full truths of each fraternities’ situation do not come out. We joined “SIG” without a complete understanding of their situation and without a full grasp on the negative impact it would have on our college experience.
In our first semester we went through a pledge process. Similar to any IFC fraternity the main point of this process was to learn the meaning of brotherhood and form relationships with the other members of our group.
Once unified and after having a semester at Michigan under our belt, we sat down and discussed if we wanted to continue as “SIG.” We all realized that being in this organization automatically came with a poor reputation that none of us deserved. Although we had no hospital visits, hazing scandals or sexual assault allegations in our tenure as members last year, the track record of “SIG” that preceded us inherently labeled us as villains associated with those claims.
We unanimously decided that we did not want to be associated with that reputation and as a result, we began taking steps to disassociate ourselves from “SIG.” In January of 2015, at the beginning of our second semester, we contacted Tau Epsilon Phi and asked them if our group could colonize a chapter at Michigan. After meeting with us, TEP approved of our group and was ecstatic at the opportunity to open a chapter at Michigan. We then contacted Devin Berghost, IFC Advisor and Alex Krupiak, IFC President and asked for their guidance. We were told that it would not be possible because of our affiliation with “SIG,” even though we were clear that we were trying to disaffiliate and start a fraternity that could be under the control of the IFC.
Although disheartened, we still hoped to secede from “SIG” and the reputation we received with it. Our only option left was to enter IFC rush again as sophomores in hope to place ourselves within the IFC system and clear whatever “SIG” label we once had.
We approached Delta Kappa Epsilon and explained that we went through a pledge term together and had gained a group of brothers in the process. DKE, who values brotherhood like every fraternity should, sympathized with us. They agreed we could rush their fraternity and that they would not split up a tightly knit group of best friends that had already spent a year of college together.
In return we vowed to leave all “SIG” traditions and labels in the past, which we were more than happy to do. We assured them that the last thing we wanted was the negative portrayal of us as individuals that our membership in “SIG” had given us.
Although the Greek community has not yet completely buried our “SIG” label because it is still being discussed, we hope this letter will help reassure you that we wish to disaffiliate from all things “SIG” and have been working to do so for over a semester. We would just like to rush, as it is common for sophomores to do.
A group of Sophomores
It’s pretty clear from this letter that these students do not want to be members of SIG. They didn’t know what they got into, and, once they figured it out, tried everything they could to get out of it. Heck, they even tried to put in the immense amount of legwork it takes to found a new fraternity on campus, something that would normally have any Greek Life Coordinator drenching his tighty-whities. But just because they were in a rogue fraternity, they were banned from affiliating with Greek Life, banned from founding a new fraternity, and banned from rushing another fraternity. Because obviously the best way to make sure your campus’ rogue fraternity problem goes away is to create barriers to exiting rogue fraternities.
The Wednesday, September 23rd Meeting
On September 23rd, at the IFC weekly meeting, a motion was made to kick DKE off campus for associating with SIG. The motion received a second and the case was presented before the Interfraternity Council, needing a 2/3 vote of the IFC chapter presidents to pass.
The case presented against DKE was that they were attempting to merge with SIG. During the proceedings, allegations against SIG were brought up to paint a negative picture of the fraternity.
From Michigan DKE President Evan Field:
During Wednesday’s meeting a university employee, read aloud a list of allegations from the past 10 years against the former organization known as Sig, they were trying to draw a link between our organization and actions that took place in a different organization while I was in elementary school. None of the events described took place while any of the 29 sophomores we want to bring in were members of this organization. The attacks on these gentlemen’s character were unfair and borderline slanderous.
Field defended SIG by pointing out how during the 29 sophomores’ tenure as SIGs, there were no incidents that brought negative attention to the group. Field made a point to make it clear that this was not a “merger” between the two groups. Which is true, as DKE is maintaining all of their own ritual, branding, and rights of membership. It isn’t called a merger when a group of 90+ DKEs take on a group of 29 unaffiliated dudes – it’s called rush. Field also pointed out that SIG had raised $100,000+ for MRelay, more than any on-campus fraternity or sorority in 2015.
Field won over the presidents, and the motion failed. DKE was warned, however, that if they did not drop their “affiliation” with SIG, they would be voted on again at the next meeting.
The Wednesday, September 30th Meeting
The fraternity decided to continue associating themselves with the 29 sophomores, so when Field, a former member of SIG, and a representative from DKE nationals (it’s important to note that the Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity’s national organization has supported and continues to support the Michigan DKE chapter throughout this ordeal, even continuing to recognize them as a chapter despite their current off-campus status) all showed up to the IFC weekly meeting, the motion was voted upon once again. This time, it passed.
Citing freedom of association, DKE believes that IFC has no right to prevent them from rushing and initiating these men just because they used to be members of SIG.
From Michigan DKE President Evan Field:
As a chapter it is our right to choose our members based upon the values of our organization. The issue at hand is whether or not the Interfraternity Council can dictate who can become members of our organization. This freedom of association is protected under the first amendment of the United States Constitution and we believe the IFC has over stepped their bounds and has set a dangerous precedent for all fraternities. A public university IFC does not, nor should it ever, have the power or the right to tell a chapter, which individuals are or are not eligible for membership in their brotherhood.
Field was not pleased with the decision, and has announced that the fraternity will be appealing the decision.
We the brothers of Delta Kappa Epsilon are tremendously disappointed with the result of last week’s Interfraternity council meeting. It was, and still is, our belief that the right to choose our own members is a crucial aspect of self governance. We will appeal this decision and believe that we have a strong case. The fact that the IFC came to this decision without a precipitating incident is extremely disheartening and calls into question the motives and values of the member chapters.
One of the last fraternities to get kicked off campus at the University of Michigan got kicked off for causing $430,000 worth of damage at a ski resort. DKE got kicked off for recruiting men whose values aligned with their organization’s. The easiest way to highlight the absurdity of this situation for me is this:
TL;DR: University of Michigan IFC kicks DKE off campus to set precedent that rogue fraternities will not be tolerated, thus creating a new rogue fraternity.
Solid reasoning right there. Should hopefully all be cleared up once the appeals process starts up and DKE’s name is cleared.
Stay strong, Michigan DKEs..
Image via Michigan DKE