The Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (DKE), accused of bigotry, sexism and hazing, has received criticism from rights group for trying to expand into Scottish universities.
The elitist DKE, which counts five U.S. presidents among its former members – Rutherford B. Hayes, Theodore Roosevelt, Gerald Ford, George Bush Snr, and George W. Bush – has already set up a fraternity, known as a “chapter”, in Edinburgh University and an unconfirmed one in England’s Warwick University.
DKE has 52 active chapters across the USA and Canada and now, for the first time in its 172 years of existence, opened chapters outside North America and seeking to expand in the UK.
In North America DKE is infamous for sexism, nepotism and using abusive behaviour known as hazing rituals, where new initiates are subject to harassment, abuse or humiliation that sometimes involves dangerous activities.
Recently, DKE’s chapter at Louisiana State University (LSU) faced the prospect of a ban when it swung a homophobic banner mocking the NFL’s first openly gay player, Michael Sam.
The act was strongly criticised by LSU’s LGBTI rights group Spectrum who said DKE created an unwelcoming environment for LGBTI students.
The ban was only averted when DKE was forced to apologise.
The Yale founding chapter was excluded for five years in May 2011, after new members were videoed marching by the women’s student accommodation at Yale University’s campus chanting misogynistic slogans such as “No means yes! Yes means anal!”
In 1989, Colgate University banned DKE due to hazing rituals, with similar actions taken by Tulane University and Alberta University, in Edmonton, Canada.
Student and LGBTI rights campaigners expressed their concerns and criticism of DKE’s plans to set-up chapters in Scottish Universities.
Peter McColl, Rector of the University of Edinburgh, tweeted that he was very concerned by DKE’s plans “and have received assurances that the university will provide no support to any sexist frats.”
The University of St Andrews Students’ Association president, Pat Mathewson, warned that DKE would not be tolerated and said: “I would be very surprised if they were successful in setting up here.”
While Lani Baird, NUS Scotland’s LGBT Officer told KaleidoScot: “We’re against anything that discriminates against any of our students. NUS has a long and proud tradition of fighting prejudice and standing up for all student groups.
“Many students across Scotland will be concerned if DKE have developed in their city and we will work with local student associations to try to make sure no students face unacceptable behaviour as a result.”
Rob McDowall, Member of the Equality Council and Chair of the LGBT Network was critical of DKE’s expansion into the country’s universities, stating: “Organisations like DKE thrive through division while fostering an environment of homophobia, bigotry and misogyny.
“Scotland is a tolerant and welcoming country and our university students don’t need to be exposed to orgies of hate and humiliation. Let’s hope the universities see sense and rid Scotland’s students of the influence of this insidious organisation.”
Watch DKE initiates chant misogynistic slurs in Yale University: