Delta Kappa Epsilon returns to campus


With 18 total members, Delta Kappa Epsilon has reopened their UI Chapter after not being active for years

By Isabella Jackson

Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) has a chapter on campus for the first time since 1986. 

When Gabriel Gonzalez, sophomore in Media, came to campus last year, he quickly became close friends with some of the students on his floor in Scott Hall. They went through the rush process together, but did not find a place to pledge. 

“There are a lot of great houses, and a lot of cool guys at those houses, but we didn’t feel like anything was the perfect fit,” he said. 

While hanging out in one of the dorm rooms, their RA told them that the group seemed like their own fraternity. On a whim, Gonzalez started researching national organizations without active chapters on campus.

“We wanted a challenge, you know. We wanted to leave our own legacy here,” Gonzalez said. 

    Sign up for our newsletter!

    He was fascinated by the number of leaders who have come from the national DKE organization, including five presidents and countless senators and business executives.

    “I’m honestly just proud to be a member of such an elite organization,” he said. 

    Gonzalez started the application process last spring, and the chapter became active in the fall semester. 

    Being a new fraternity on a campus with a very established Greek system has its challenges. According to Gonzalez, recruiting new members and getting the word out there can be difficult when they haven’t had a house on campus in 28 years.

    “People’s dads know us, but the (students) don’t know us.” Gonzalez said.

    However, three pledges were recruited this year to join the 15-member Delta Pi chapter of DKE.  

    Beau Pieper, freshman in LAS, heard about DKE through some of the existing members that were living in Scott Hall with him. Although he did look into pledging with other fraternities on campus, he liked DKE best.

    “When I came to the University, I wasn’t sure if Greek life was for me. I was going to just shop around a little bit and see where I fit in and turns out that was with Delta Kappa Epsilon,” he said. 

    For him, the fact that DKE is back after such a long break was one of the major appeals of the house. He said that he likes that DKE does not have an existing reputation on campus. 

    “All we really have right now is our brotherhood, and we’re going to build off of that,” he said. 

    One of the biggest steps that the group will be taking is moving into a house next fall, which will be a 14-room senior house on Nevada Street in Urbana. Gonzalez said having a main location for the group will be helpful, because logistically arranging events can be difficult when members are spread across the Champaign-Urbana area. 

    The fraternity is also planning events, including a semi-formal and formal for the upcoming year. 

    Both Gonzalez and Pieper said they are looking forward to the Undertakers Ball, a Halloween event that consists of putting one member in a casket while the others read comical eulogies about the “deceased.”

    When they do not have formal events planned, the members still enjoy each other’s company.

    “This is just such a tight-knit community. We all lived together last year, so it’s not just some random group of guys that you are rushing with and getting to meet,” Gonzalez said. 

    He said that the members are ambitious and driven, which has been beneficial in getting the fraternity recognized by the Interfraternity Council on campus, a process that requires meeting specifications, completing paperwork and attending meetings. 

    Even with the challenges, Gonzalez knows that the experience is definitely preparing him for the future and teaching him lessons in leadership and taking initiative.

    “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It’s like running a business,” he said.

    They have received tremendous support from alumni who are happy that the chapter is back on campus. 

    Michael Gonzalez, sophomore in Engineering and the vice-president of DKE, said that six alumni from classes in the 1950s and 1980s came for the Homecoming football game and a dinner with the fraternity members at Alexander’s Steakhouse. 

    He said that the experience made the current members realize how important restarting the fraternity was to alumni. 

    “It was fun to see how much DKE meant to them back in the day, because it was a huge part of their lives,” Michael Gonzalez said. “It’s definitely more motivation to continue doing what we’re doing.” 

    Sean Clark, sophomore in Business, said that even though some of the alumni had not been back to campus since their graduation, they came back to see the new members and were quickly talking like they had never been apart. 

    Even with almost three decades since the last graduating class, alumni have contacted them about items that were in the old house. 

    “We found our 100-year-old charter. An alumni just had it in his garage,” Gonzalez said. 

    The fraternity is hoping to keep the chapter on campus and has implemented measures to keep order and benefit its members. Similar to many fraternities, there are mandated study hours and philanthropy events to make members into more well-rounded individuals. Pieper said that the friendships he forms within the fraternity will benefit him in the future, and he is confident that members will go on to do great things in life. 

    “At the base, it’s just people that want to make a difference. People that want to excel,” Gonzalez said. 

    Isabella can be reached at [email protected].