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UC Berkeley fraternities consider remaining unaffiliated with campus

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Former editor in chief and president

AUGUST 22, 2012

After a four-year suspension, the campus chapter of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity will face the choice this September to apply for recognition again from the UC Berkeley’s Greek system, but will choose not to reapply and remain unaffiliated with the campus.

The campus revoked recognition of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity — commonly known as DKE —  in March 2009 after campus officials were alerted of allegations of hazing, fire safety hazards and other student conduct violation by the fraternity. Brian Liou, treasurer for DKE, said fraternity leadership would not be rejoining after the suspension to maintain the independence of and control over the fraternity.

And yet, DKE is not the only fraternity that remains skeptical about reapplying for recognition: after having their sponsorship revoked by UC Berkeley officials, campus chapters of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Zeta Psi fraternities are also doubtful whether re-applying for campus recognition will be beneficial for the fraternity.

In July 2011, the campus revoked the recognition of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter — known as SAE — for repeated risk management, fire and life safety and social code violations and noncompliance with prior sanctions. The campus’s Zeta Psi Fraternity chapter became unaffiliated in December 2010 for similar reasons, according to campus officials.

“All of these organization lost university recognition due to their actions and behaviors as a chapter here at UC Berkeley,” said LEAD Center Interim Director Jeff Woods. “They each violated the Campus Code of Student Conduct and through the conduct process, lost university recognition.”

While Dave Hunter, executive director of Zeta Psi Fraternity of North America, said the campus chapter opted to no longer maintain recognition with the school due to differences of opinions on how a judicial system should impose penalties, he added that fraternity leadership has decided that the recognition agreement between the chapter and UC Berkeley provided very little benefit to the chapter.

“Zeta Psi is doing just fine without recognition and has no plans to become recognized in the near future,” Hunter said in an email.

According to a campus website, over 10 fraternities — not all which are currently operating — are listed as “non recognized” by the campus and students are “counseled against joining these organizations.”

The campus prefers fraternities to stay affiliated, according to Woods. The 33 recognized fraternity chapters of campus form the Interfraternity Council. In total, there are about 1,300 undergraduate men in those fraternities.

Despite the campus’ warnings against joining the unrecognized fraternities, Woods said that students associate the “bad actions” of the unrecognized fraternities — DKE, SAE and Zeta Psi — with the campus-affiliated fraternities.

“Unrecognized fraternities bring down the entire CalGreeks community,” Woods said in an email. “The unrecognized fraternities are operating outside of the (campus) and Interfraternity Council and without the expectations, support, and resources available to them.”

But Liou said in an email that more fraternities that can opt out of recognition will because “the (council) as an organizing body isn’t very strong.” He added that being unrecognized gives fraternities greater independence and less regulation from the campus.

“Not being in (the council) means less rules,” Liou said. “We’re independent and that enables us to govern ourselves.”

Yet, Carlo Tapia, president of the campus chapter Alpha Kappa Lambda Fraternity — a UC Berkeley-affiliated and council-recognized fraternity  since spring 2012 — said that while he understood how the influence of other fraternities leaving the campus could lead to more fraternities to end their affiliation, a benefit of being a member of the council is the legitimacy it offers to the organization and the community it creates with the larger Greek community.

Contact Chloe Hunt at  or on Twitter


AUGUST 22, 2012