Delta-Zeta Recharters at Southeast Missouri State
This story originally appeared in the Arrow.
On Jan. 29, Southeast Missouri State University's Interfraternity Council celebrated its spring 2016 bid day.
For every chapter, the opportunity to gain new members is a special one, but for the brothers of Tau Kappa Epsilon, the addition of eight new members meant so much more. To the other fraternities extending bids, it was just another bid day, but for the brothers of Tau Kappa Epsilon, it was the beginning of a night they would never forget.
Since August 2015, the men of TKE have been working to regain the chapter charter that they lost more than 24 years ago. In order to regain its charter, the colony had to re-affiliate with the university, be accepted by the other members of IFC, meet standards set upon them by TKE National Headquarters, create a functioning structure within the new chapter and prove its activeness in the community and the university.
According to Ben Mulholland, the former president of TKE, the hardest part of rechartering was the constant effort to recruit new members. Based on the male student average for the university, the chapter needed 34 members in order to gain status on campus. However, the chapter ended up with 48 members, not including the eight men who acquired a bid on Friday.
The chapter also had to prove active involvement in the university's already existing Greek community.
"We had to start getting involved with the other Greek organizations by doing Greek Week, participating in intramurals and philanthropy events," Mulholland said. "The problem with that is that, as a new chapter, we had more bills [than other chapters] because of the rechartering fees. ... We have to invest a lot of money, and we were unable to participate financially with the university as much as we would have liked to."
According to Keyeon Pitts, TKE's current president, the hardest part about the rechartering journey was staying united.
"We are a group of diverse guys and sometimes we have our downs, so we just had to sit back and believe in each other," Pitts said. "The only thing that could have torn us apart was us."
Pitts added that the legacy of TKE at Southeast is what inspired the chapter members to keep working for their charter.
The Delta Zeta chapter of TKE was founded in 1953 and operated for 40 years. In that time, the chapter saw 700 initiated members, including Southeast Board of Regents member Donald LaFerla. In 1993, the chapter was disbanded.
"TKE was disbanded for numerous reasons," Mulholland said. "The main thing is that the chapter lost sight of why they should be a fraternity and what a fraternity stood for, not just with the university but with nationals as well."
According to Mulholland, it was the support from the alumni base that encouraged the fraternity to return to Southeast and "revive" the chapter.
Following the events of spring bid day, the former members of TKE and the "refounding" fathers of the chapter met in the University Center Ballroom for their chartering banquet. Tau Kappa Epsilon's chief installation officer, Rod Talbot, attended the event.
"Talbot [was] the one inducting us," Pitts said. "He really doesn't induct chapters at all, but he is an alumnus from Carbondale, and he wanted to be here to share the moment with us."
At the banquet, the chapter received its temporary charter -- official charters only can be given out at TKE's national convention held every two years -- and received the refounding commemoration plaque from TKE's grand president.
"There were eight of us who were the first ones to accept bids to reform this organization," Mulholland said. "For us, this accomplishment is like reaching the top of the mountain. ... We're still growing, we're still forming into the organization that we want to be, but for all of us, this is a huge accomplishment."
Mulholland added that the regaining of the charter will be a confidence boost for the chapter and will inspire its members to push for better things to come.
"All the struggles and downfalls finally have a great ending," Pitts said. "We've been through a lot with this campus and with each other. We could have stopped believing in this journey that we all put our minds to a long time ago. We didn't let anyone tear us down ... and we get to see the bright days that come from the dark ones."
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