DKE Responds to Amherst College Fraternity Ban

Delta Kappa Epsilon strongly disagrees with the decision made by the Trustees of Amherst College to prohibit fraternities and sororities on its campus. We believe it violates the spirit of the Constitution's First Amendment, which gives Americans the right to freely associate, and that it will weaken rather than strengthen the sense of community and cohesiveness on the Amherst campus. We believe it reduces the diversity of choices that Amherst men and women will henceforth have available to them as a means of getting the most out of their college experience. Strong and vibrant Greek Systems have shown to have very positive effects on campus life at public and private colleges, not only socially but also academically, and with respect to campus and community involvement. Fraternity men are often in the lead in the campaign against sexual assault and violence against women. Greek men and women raise far more dollars for charity and spend more hours on community service than their non-Greek peers; GPA's are higher among Greek students, as are retention and graduation rates, and Greek men and women participate in other campus organizations at a much higher rate than non-Greeks. Finally, Greek students are substantially more loyal to their institution than non-Greeks, if alumni(ae) donations are a measure of loyalty. Greek organizations provide leadership opportunities for their members, and create a greater degree of involvement in society and on campus.  Three consecutive presidents of Amherst College were members of Delta Kappa Epsilon, as have been many other successful and highly involved alumni of Amherst, and we are certain that other fraternities can say the same thing about their proud Amherst alumni.

 

Remarkably absent from the College's statement are any facts - even opinions - about why Amherst College feels it will be better off without fraternities. Nor does it state a single specific problem that this Resolution is intended to solve. We see no evidence of a rigorous, fact-based analysis of the situation - an approach one would think a highly rated liberal arts college would embrace. This decision seems to rely on vague risk management concerns about "juridicial invisibility," rather than any specific reasons why Amherst would be better off without fraternities. It simply states that unrecognized fraternities are outside the regulatory reach of the Amherst administration, and therefore must be banned. It goes on to say that "Amherst can be better without fraternities than it can with them," without any examples or evidence - even anecdotal - to support that statement. The closest thing to a specific statement supporting this decision is that "fraternities would divert from social and residential life on campus and from efforts to create community at the College." But no facts or evidence are presented to substantiate why the Trustees feel this way. Later, the Trustees say "... situations will occur when the policies of the College and the wishes of the underground fraternities are at cross purposes." They go on to say "such situations are not hypothetical. They are inevitable," but again, provide no examples to enlighten us.

 

Not only that, but in a liberal college atmosphere, are we not supposed to be able to resolve situations where diverse opinions exist? Or are we now required to behave and associate with other people only through methods designated and approved by Amherst College's Trustees? Does Amherst wish to enforce a monopoly over the way that "community" is created at the College? Is there only one way - the Amherst Trustees' way? Do the students have a say in all of this?

 

We believe the past and current Brothers of DKE at our Sigma Chapter at Amherst have made many positive contributions to campus life through athletics, academics, leadership in student government and other campus organizations, as well as being providers of a responsible, safe, and enjoyable social outlet for all Amherst students. We feel the Deke Brothers at Amherst live up to our motto, “Gentlemen, Scholars, and Jolly Good Fellows.”

 

We urge Amherst Trustees to reconsider this decision, and allow fraternities and sororities to continue, for the betterment of your students and your campus. Only then will Amherst be true to its mission, “...to promote diversity of experience and ideas.”

 

Board of Directors

Delta Kappa Epsilon International Fraternity