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COLUMN

A Message from DKE

Tom Kilpatrick and Mark Jury

Recently Delta Kappa Epsilon was sentenced to one year of organizational probation (until October 23, 2004) by the Interfraternity Council Judicial Committee, or Judcomm. “Organizational suspension of privileges,” as defined by IFC, includes revocation of housing rights, social events, and recruitment.

DKE appealed this sanction on questions of severity, fact, and procedure. On Oct. 24, Judcomm notified us that our appeal had been denied on the questions of fact and procedure and partially denied on the question of severity. The date on which we can move back into our house was changed to “the day after pledge day 2004,” to be determined by IFC.

Question of severity of sanction

Our main concern with the punishment levied by IFC was its severity. As far as the charges that we were found guilty of, we admit to holding an event during a prohibited period. The remainder of the charges regard an unregistered event, which depends on the 1:1 “guest-to-occupant” ratio.

We do not admit to these charges because the definition of “guest” is ambiguous. We believe that it is unclear if we violated this event registration rule. We acknowledge that DKE has a poor track record over the past three years (the time frame considered by Judcomm). However, to kick a fraternity out of its house for a year and especially to prohibit it from recruitment is a heavy blow.

In our original decision, Judcomm wrote, “The Review Board wants to see Delta Kappa Epsilon come back after your suspension and thrive in the community.” Given that our suspension includes suspension of rush, this statement seems disingenuous.

Perhaps the key to understanding the punishment we received is DKE’s history over the last few years. The original decision stated that the Aug. 23 party was not enough to warrant suspension, but the actions of DKE brothers over the last three years was.

DKE has a lot of incidents on record with MIT, and while some of these are trivial, several are not -- for example, an alcohol infraction during the 2002 Campus Preview Weekend and open alcohol at an MIT hockey game in 2001.

However, we have made changes and done penance. In the summer of 2002 we realized that change was necessary, and made the painful decision to ask an active brother to leave the house. Also we began serving a seven-month term of social probation, successfully completed in April.

Thus the incident on Aug. 23 was the first in more than a year. With the classes of 2002 and 2003 gone and a new class of pledges entering, we feel the character of the house has changed. We hope to leave the attitudes of the past behind us. It is with these hopes that the sanctions are especially disheartening.

Another major point of our appeal was the misconception that DKE was on IFC probation at the time of the party. After the summer of 2002, the house was placed on social probation until April 2003. After completing the designated probation without incident, we were taken off social probation and decided to go on “chapter probation” under an agreement worked out between Dean Rogers and the DKE alumni association.

The spirit of this “chapter probation” was to keep a close watch on the activities of DKE, and not to destroy the chapter should another small incident occur. This was not the “organizational probation” as defined in the Judcomm bylaws.

Nonetheless Judcomm treated the case as if we were already under the severe “organizational probation” and decided to take the next step of suspending our house. This probation issue was not even addressed in the appeal decision letter.

Question of fact

Our main point here was that IFC’s BYOB (“bring your own beer”) policy, which was put in place as part of IFC’s greater risk management policy for parties, has not been and is not enforced. So it is not fair that DKE was punished for failure to adhere with the BYOB policy. The Judcomm appeal board, however, decided that this “would not have significantly affected the outcome of the case.”

(Editor’s note: The BYOB policy requires that a bartender collect the alcohol from guests in exchange for a wristband, and during the party mark the wristband for a drink and only to that guest. It also calls for a limit of six drinks per guest.)

Question of procedure

On Oct. 15 DKE had a hearing before the Judcomm review board, the proceedings of which were the basis for our original sentence. The Judcomm bylaws state that the review board secretary shall “tape hearings (deliberations are private and not taped) for the purpose of appeals and provide them to the chair as necessary.”

Our hearing was not taped. Thus the appeals board, which consisted of different review board members than the original hearing, never heard the proceedings of the trial. Their only information came from Judcomm Chair David Gottlieb G and the review board secretary.

In the appeal decision letter Gottlieb wrote that “even if the Bylaws were interpreted as the way you presented them in your appeal, the Board felt that the breaching of this procedure did not have a significant effect on the outcome of the case.”

So Judcomm did not follow the proper procedure, and instead of granting a retrial dismissed the problem as insignificant. This attitude is reflected in an e-mail from Dean Steven Tyrell of the Office of Student Discipline to DKE president Brandon Hohm G, dated Oct. 21: “I am also not aware of any past hearings prior to my arrival a year ago where a judcomm hearing was taped. So, taping the hearings has not been a practice of panels for some time now.”

Looking ahead

It is obvious that the support structure is not in place to properly enforce sanctions like those handed down by Judcomm, as it is still unclear where DKE brothers are going to live the remainder of the year. Our alumni association, who owns our house and is responsible for enforcing the sanctions, was not even contacted until after the original decision was handed down.

Further we’d like to call into question the concept of interfraternity policing. In an organization like the IFC, individuals can assume great power. And these individuals are bound to be confronted with conflicts of interest, as a rival fraternity being punished can aid one’s own fraternity in rush, status on campus, etc. These conflicts of interest can cloud the judgment of those in positions of power.

These things being said, DKE is committed to successfully serving our period of organizational suspension and remaining part of the Interfraternity Council and the MIT community. We will do whatever it takes to make that happen.

This column was principally written by Tom Kilpatrick ’05 and Mark A. Jury ’04 on behalf of the brothers of DKE.