Updated: Dec. 7, 2017 at 2:12 p.m.
Tau Kappa Epsilon is returning to GW next month – the first of several chapters kicked off campus in recent years to plan a return.
TKE officials said the new chapter will have an entirely new body of about 30 members beginning later this spring, and that by working with the fraternity’s alumni network and University officials, new members will be able to avoid the mistakes of the past. Experts said returning chapters have the opportunity to make a fresh start on campus, but should be transparent about past violations with incoming members.
In September 2014, TKE was temporarily suspended after a marijuana arrest. After an investigation by the University, the chapter was closed at the start of the following year.
TKE was the second fraternity to be shut down on campus after Alpha Epsilon Pi was kicked off campus in 2014 amid a series of hazing and drug violations. Three more fraternities and one sorority followed in the next two years.
Most of those chapters will be returning to campus in the next few years. Pi Kappa Phi will return to campus in fall 2019, Phi Kappa Psi in spring 2020 and Sigma Phi Epsilon in spring 2022.
Alpha Sigma Phi and Phi Gamma Delta will launch chapters for the first time at GW in spring 2019 and spring 2021, respectively.
Interfraternity Council President Harley Pease declined to comment.
Jacob Schafer, the incoming president of the IFC, said the IFC will work to assist representatives from TKE, who will be coming to campus next semester during the rush process. He said the IFC will often run ad campaigns and share rush schedules for returning chapters to promote the fraternity to the freshman class.
“It’s often difficult for a new chapter to compete against other well-established Greek organizations,” he said in an email.
Schafer said founding classes rarely have the same issues as the old chapter because all members of the old group have now graduated and left campus. He said after the 30-member founding class is established later this spring, TKE will rejoin the IFC as a colony and then get full voting power when its charter is restored.
Christina Witkowicki, the director of student involvement and Greek life, said TKE’s umbrella organization will work with GW’s IFC and University officials to help rising leadership and members of the new chapter build relationships and identify resources that will ensure the chapter’s success on campus.
“The University takes great care to help the newest fraternity chapter join the fraternal community on campus, including giving them the tools, knowledge and resources available to achieve their greatest potential at GW,” she said in an email. “We are thrilled to have TKE rejoin our GW Greek community.”
Nick Kimble, the expansion coordinator for TKE, will conduct interviews with student leaders to drum up interest in the chapter. He said when a chapter returns to campus, officials from the fraternity notify alumni in the area to announce the chapter’s return, and look for alumni to fill advisory positions for the returning chapter.
“The University, the headquarters staff and most importantly the alumni help ensure that the culture that led to past violations and problems that ensured the chapter would close are not repeated,” he said in an email. “The alumni and past members who were a part of that culture are not involved with the undergraduate chapter to ensure that the culture is not passed down.”
Kimble said the chapter will begin recruiting after formal IFC recruitment finishes next month and continue for about two months. He said they are looking to recruit about 30 men to start.
“I believe it is an opportunity to make a fresh start,” he said. “The chapter was removed for a reason because they did not represent the values of TKE nor were they what we consider a representation of the product we produce.”
Alex Baker, the chief information officer for TKE’s international organization, said officials from TKE international headquarters will hand-pick new members next semester and work with the new chapter to ensure University policies and TKE’s rules on issues like hazing and alcohol use are consistently followed.
“Leaving and returning to campus is a great opportunity for potential new members,” he said in an email. “They will be able to join and immediately become actively involved in leadership or committee roles and help build a strong, values-based organization.”
He said during recruitment, TKE officials will be looking for men based on their “personal worth and character.”
“We are looking for men dedicated and willing to be part of something bigger than themselves,” he said.
Greek life experts said when a fraternity returns to campus, officials should initially have a heavy-hand in policy enforcement and be transparent about past violations to incoming members of the chapter.
Nicholas Gummo, the assistant director of fraternity and sorority life at Northeastern University, said it is unlikely that a new chapter will initially repeat past mistakes because the group is made up of entirely new members when it’s reestablished.
“I think there’s a temptation of the group whenever they first start is that they’re going to have the attitude that we want to be different on campus,” he said. “The best thing that a university can do in terms of helping a returning chapter be successful is to make sure that it is encouraging them to be a leader in terms of bringing the rest of the chapters on campus to a better place.”
Nicholas Hudson, the assistant director at the center for fraternity and sorority life at Washington State University, said collaboration between the national fraternity headquarters and University officials can help ensure a successful transition for returning chapters.
“Given the numerous variables, there can never be a guarantee that a chapter does not repeat past behavior,” he said. “However, institutions and national headquarters do their best to mitigate the risk and behavior associated with past behavior.”
This post was updated to reflect the following clarification:
The Hatchet listed Alpha Sigma Phi and Phi Gamma Delta in a list of chapters returning to campus in the next few years. Those organizations will be starting chapters at GW for the first time.
This article appeared in the December 7, 2017 issue of the Hatchet.