Months after allegations of extreme hazing surfaced at its University of Alberta chapter, the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity’s international office has put the chapter under provisional suspension for three years.
As a condition of their suspension, DKE International has ordered that an alumni council, which will be appointed by the head office, monitor the activities of the fraternity. The council will oversee at least one fraternity meeting per month, and will supervise the planning of any major social events the fraternity holds.
While it’s encouraging to see the head office start to become more involved in the operations of the U of A chapter, these actions fail to condemn the hazing rituals that allegedly took place. They also provide no concrete forms of accountability for those who took part in the alleged hazing.
The conditions of the suspension still allow the chapter to hold initiations this spring, as long as it complies with the “revised pledge program and initiation ceremony that fully and verifiably complies with written Delta Kappa Epsilon International standards,” according to a statement released on DKE International’s website. The local alumni council will also aid the chapter to repair DKE’s image in the neighbourhood where the fraternity house is located.
While these conditions may lead to a more positive experience for new pledges, they do not include a clear set of repercussions for members of the chapter if they do not comply with DKE International’s demands.
The statement on the DKE website explains that if the chapter fails to comply with DKE International’s written policies and objectives, Risk Management Guidelines, and their direction and advice, they will “be subject to sanction by the Board of Delta Kappa Epsilon International as necessary, potentially including the prompt revocation of the Charter of the Delta Phi Chapter and disbandment of the Chapter.”
Stating that there will be sanctions “as necessary” and that failure to comply with the polices of DKE would “potentially” result in the disbandment of the chapter makes the consequences seem vague and open-ended, and hard to take very seriously. It can’t be expected that the chapter will comply with the conditions of their suspension without outlining exactly how they will be disciplined if they fail to do so.
Further, the allegations of hazing at the U of A fraternity warrant a much stronger reaction from DKE International. The students who were brave enough to come forward with the allegations told student newspaper The Gateway they were made to eat their own vomit, forced to stay in a small wooden box covered in urine and ketchup, and deprived of food and water. This was clearly not a case of students simply being embarrassed by their peers.
This provisional suspension does not do enough to protect the safety of students in the U of A chapter, and seems entirely concerned with upholding the traditions of the fraternity and protecting the image of DKE. If DKE International wants to demonstrate that hazing will not be tolerated in their chapters, they should ensure that those who perpetrate it will be held accountable for their actions. Otherwise, they’re leaving the door wide open for hazing to happen over and over again in the future.