Despite the decades-old MC Greek life ban, the Maryville chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon is growing in size

Maryville College currently has no approved or school-sponsored fraternities or sororities, despite many Maryville College students and alumni being members of Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE), one of the oldest fraternities in the United States. 

The first chapter of DKE was formed in 1844 at Yale University, and more DKE brothers have gone on to become president of the United States than any other fraternity.

According to Maryville College archivist Amy Lundell, in the spring of 2001, the Student Government Association (SGA) opposed the establishment of official Greek Life on campus following an application for approval of Delta Kappa Epsilon as a club. 

This decision was influenced by concerns expressed in numerous public forums, with student input playing a significant role. Subsequently, in response to the SGA’s motion, the Maryville College handbook was amended to include a clause prohibiting school-chartered Greek Life.

The Dekes persisted despite the initial setback. Subsequently, the students pursued approval through the City of Maryville, resulting in the establishment of an official chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon in Maryville in the summer of 2001.

President Jaden Jones leads the weekly Delta Kappa Epsilon meeting. Courtesy of Lillian Peterson.

But even without an official city charter like the Dekes, other secret societies still thrive on campus. One current student, speaking on condition of anonymity and a former member of one of these societies, shared her insights. 

“You couldn’t tell a single soul anything,” she said when asked about the rushing process. The student revealed that during rush, she only knew one other girl, and it wasn’t until initiation night that she met any other members. Even after becoming a member, discussing anything related to her society with non-members was strictly prohibited.

One former president of Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE), who also asked to remain anonymous in order to speak freely, attributed his current job success to his experience as a Deke. He went as far as to describe it as a valuable addition to his resume, emphasizing the multiple career connections and opportunities it provided, along with the development of transferable skills. While certain behind-the-scenes social aspects of DKE are kept confidential, it is primarily to maintain a sense of excitement and exclusivity, he said.

Currently, the Dekes hold weekly formal meetings. Every few years, the officers have the opportunity to attend a Delta Kappa Epsilon convention in Washington D.C. Jaden Jones, the current president of Maryville’s chapter of DKE, says that this has facilitated connections between the Maryville chapter and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (UTK) chapter. Despite minor disparities in size and chartering, the two chapters share striking similarities.

“Our main mission is to be involved with the community,” Jones said. “The second part, behind that, would be the brotherhood that we have. We give guys at school somewhere they can open up and talk to other guys without being judged.” 

He added that it’s also a great opportunity for out-of-state students to find a community. 

The brothers of Delta Kappa Epsilon stand to recite the chapter objects. Courtesy of Lillian Peterson.

Vegas Domingo, the secretary for Maryville DKE, said that he joined because he wanted to meet new people and be a part of something bigger than himself. 

Similarly, the anonymous former president asserts that Delta Kappa Epsilon was established as “an avenue to keep guys in college.” Members of Delta Kappa Epsilon must fulfill specific community service hours, participate in designated study group days, and maintain good standing with the college. 

While Delta Kappa Epsilon, as an international fraternity, prioritizes philanthropy related to mental health, the Maryville chapter has struggled to raise the desired amount of funds for this cause.

“Being so small at Maryville College and not being able to use the campus facilities … [to] raise money on campus because we’re not a campus fraternity, we would have to [raise money] out here in the streets of Maryville. We don’t get the traction that we could if we were able to use the campus,” Jones said.          

Jones further explained that promoting the fraternity has been challenging, and the chapter has faced difficulties in maintaining its size over the past few years. He mentioned that the previous semester was dedicated to addressing this issue and concentrating on expanding the chapter. Currently, they have 14 active members but are actively engaged in the recruitment process to increase their numbers.

If there’s one thing Maryville DKE would like others to know, it’s their eagerness to serve the community. “We want the community to know that we want to help in any way that we can, and we are willing to. Just ask us,” Jones said.

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