Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include new developments, including a statement from EUSA condemning the fraternity and assuring appropriate action, and a statement from the Edinburgh University Feminist Society (FemSoc) also condemning the fraternity.
Edinburgh’s Alpha Sigma “colony” of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (DKE-AS) joked about raping the Edinburgh University Feminist Society (FemSoc), proposed a “raping trip” to Montenegro, and made lewd comments about a female student union official not requiring a “strap-on” to commit penetrative rape, according to minutes from the fraternity’s meetings.
At least one of the meetings took place on University property in the Lorimer Room, Old College. The room was booked by the ex-president for the fabricated purpose of hosting a “Mandarin study group”.
The revelations come less than a week after Edinburgh’s DKE “colony” was officially chartered by the American organisation.
The minutes, whose authenticity has been confirmed, detail the contents of several DKE-AS chapter meetings held between September 2013 and May 2014. DKE-AS members joked or made comments about rape in several meetings during this period.
A DKE-AS meeting on 4 March 2014 discussed “Feminists” as a full agenda item; the other two agenda items were “Matters from the eBoard” and “Any other business”. According to the minutes, during discussion of the “Feminists” agenda item, a member of the fraternity suggested organising a game of paintball between DKE-AS and FemSoc to “calm the waters”. When the ex-president vetoed the proposal, the proposer responded: “How are we going to rape them?”
A second member then said: “Let’s go to Montenegro, for a raping trip.”
A member of the fraternity also joked that a female EUSA official had raped his friend in Palm Beach, Florida. Another member responded: “She didn’t need a strap-on!”
At the same meeting, members brought up FemSoc’s “point about Trans-genders” [sic]. The “point” is not specified. The minutes record that following this discussion, the members decided that trans people “agreed to be pedantic”. The meeting was adjourned following discussion of a planned trip to a whisky distillery.
Following the planning of a clay pigeon shoot and charity event at an earlier meeting on 24 February 2014, during an “Any other business” agenda item DKE-AS members discussed articles “against Feminists” in The Student and The Tab. The members reasoned that supposed anti-feminist sentiments in the articles were representative of views held by the wider university community and therefore were views that should be adopted by the fraternity. The minutes do not specify which articles in The Student and The Tab the discussion was in reference to.
A source within the fraternity told The Student that members had also discussed planning and rolling out a free “service” called “Phone a Deke”, whereby women not wishing to walk home unaccompanied following nights out could enlist a DKE-AS member to walk them home. According to the source, members joked about taking advantage of the women, some of whom would be intoxicated and vulnerable following a night of alcohol consumption. These alleged conversations are not recorded in the minutes.
Various meetings also discussed the planning of fraternity initiation ceremonies, one of which would involve forced consumption of “DIY Four-Loko”, a home-made imitation of the American alcoholic energy drink. The beverage was banned in Canada, Europe and the US states of New Jersey, New York, and Washington after a number of high-profile deaths. Society initiations requiring the consumption of alcohol constitute hazing, an offence under UK and US law, and a practice explicitly banned under the fraternity’s own constitution.
The Edinburgh chapter caused controversy earlier this year after claiming official links to The University of Edinburgh. The University later refuted these claims. Graffiti of the fraternity’s Greek letters has also appeared intermittently in various public places, including Bristo Square, the Meadows, and George Square, requiring cleanup.
American chapters of Delta Kappa Epsilon are no strangers to controversy. The founding chapter, established at Yale University in 1844, was disbanded for five years as of May 2011 following members chanting “No means yes! Yes means anal!” at an initiation event in October 2010.
In comments to The Student in January 2014, Doug Lanpher, the Executive Director of DKE Headquarters, said: “Since 1844, DKE’s motto has been ‘Gentlemen, Scholars, and Jolly Good Fellows’, and by living up to these ideals, we are confident that our Edinburgh chapter will be a credit to the University.
“We now have chapters or colonies at 64 universities and colleges. We look forward to developing a chapter which contributes positively to student life at Edinburgh, by attracting only men of high character.”
The news was met with disgust on campus, with the Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) swiftly issuing a statement by the Vice President Societies and Activities (VPSA) Eve Livingston. Livingston also reported the matter to the University Secretary, Sarah Smith.
Livingston wrote: “This morning, when an article was published by The Student newspaper, we were alerted to the existence of minutes from a ‘Kappa Delta Epsilon’ [sic] fraternity meeting which detailed discussions of rape threats, transphobia and other unacceptable content.
“Kappa Delta Epsilon [sic] have no affiliation with EUSA.
“We as an organisation, alongside NUS Scotland, have publicly condemned them in the past, commenting on the dangerous and misogynistic nature of fraternities which have no place in our student community.”We are shocked and appalled by the contents of the leaked minutes and our priority is absolutely the welfare and safety of our students.
“As of this morning I have raised the issue with the University Secretary as a breach of the Code of Student Conduct and a potential criminal offence, and I await an official response from the University.”Students have my assurance that finding and disciplining those responsible for these unacceptable comments and threats will remain a top priority until this is resolved.”
The Edinburgh University Feminist Society also reacted strongly to the disclosures, sharing a statement via their Facebook page. It reads: “In light of the publication of the below article, FemSoc condemns in the strongest terms the abhorrent misogynistic and transphobic behaviour and statements made by the DKE frat. We hope the university will join us in standing up against sexism and take disciplinary action against students involved in the frat. We plan to take further action on this issue to make sure the Frat cannot continue to operate on this campus. If you would like to get involved or have ideas for action against the fraternity, please come along to our committee meeting this Thursday, 20th Nov, at 6pm in DHT 6.11.
“The fact that this type of behaviour is acceptable to a group of students, and that it was even recorded in official minutes, is a clear example of how rampant sexism and misogyny exists in our everyday surroundings, and we must fight it. Please join us in taking sexual assault, rape, and abuse with the utmost seriousness and respect, and make sure you are calling out anyone you know who jokes about it.
“The revelations in this article also confirm our long-standing view that the establishment of a frat chapter, or any all-male society in Edinburgh would be representative of misogyny and result in situations making people, particularly women, feel unsafe. We stand for a campus which does not tolerate inequality, hate speech, harrassment, or assault in any form.”
A request for comment sent to DKE-AS’s contact email address went unanswered.