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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Tau Kappa Epsilon returns to QU eight years after hazing incident

Quinnipiac Universitys Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity had been a campus constant for nearly half a century before university officials suspended the Kappa Psi chapter for four years in 2015 for violating the university’s hazing policies.
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Quinnipiac University’s Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity had been a campus constant for nearly half a century before university officials suspended the Kappa Psi chapter for four years in 2015 for violating the university’s hazing policies.

The Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity re-established its Kappa Psi chapter at Quinnipiac University this fall, eight years after university administrators suspended the fraternity and levied punishments against several of its members.

Quinnipiac officials in December 2014 initiated an investigation into the fraternity after serious hazing accusations emerged against its members. Upon completing the investigation the following spring, administrators handed down a four-year suspension that left the fraternity ineligible to return to Hamden until 2019.

But now, more than five decades after Tau Kappa Epsilon’s founding at Quinnipiac and eight years after the fraternity found itself wrapped in a potentially chapter-ending controversy, the university’s re-established Kappa Psi expansion already boasts 20 new brothers.

Although Brandon Assi, a senior biomedical sciences major and one of the newest members of Quinnipiac’s TKE chapter, never saw himself joining a fraternity, he said the opportunity to help shape the fraternity’s future enticed him.

“I think, for us, it’s important for us to recognize those things that happened in the past,” Assi said. “We can’t change the past, but we can change our present and we can change the future as well.”

Beyond its nearly 125-year history as a national organization, the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity has a decades-long history in Hamden. First established on the Mount Carmel Campus in 1967, TKE was a mainstay at Quinnipiac for nearly half a century before being booted for violating the university’s hazing policies.

“It’s cool to say we were the longest on campus,” said J.P. DiDonato, a sophomore political science and applied business double major and another new member of the campus’ re-established TKE chapter. “But we’re really focused on the future and what type of changes we can make and what type of impact we can have on our community and our campus.”

Amid the hazing investigation eight years ago, university officials suspended one student, John Demoulas, for the spring 2015 semester for allegedly asking new members of the fraternity via a group text message to clean vomit in his on-campus suite.

Demoulas, who denied the allegations, filed a lawsuit against the university less than a month after the allegations surfaced in an attempt to overturn his suspension.

The judge presiding over the case denied Demoulas’ request for a temporary injunction to return to campus that spring, but university officials testified that the administrators who levied his suspension had never seen the alleged group text message. Demoulas returned to Quinnipiac for the spring 2015 semester and graduated in May 2017, according to his LinkedIn profile.

TKE is not the only fraternity university administrators have sanctioned in recent years. The Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity received a two-year suspension in June 2018 for “actions that occurred during the Spring 2018 semester,” John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations, told The Chronicle at the time.

Then, in December 2019, Quinnipiac officials suspended the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity for two years after investigating an “unsanctioned, off-campus event,” Morgan wrote in a statement to Q30 News.

But unlike two-year bans, four-year campus bans ensure that suspended fraternities and sororities regain eligibility only once all current members of the offending organization have graduated. Accordingly, university officials frequently impose suspensions of this length in major hazing cases — and not just at Quinnipiac.

At Clemson University, for example, officials in July banned the campus’ Alpha Gamma Rho chapter for four years after an investigation revealed that the fraternity’s initiation rituals caused chemical burns, per the Associated Press.

PJ Malafronte, the Indianapolis-based fraternity’s director of expansion, said that the actions that triggered TKE’s suspension from Quinnipiac eight years ago “did not represent who Tau Kappa Epsilon is and did not represent our values.”

“I think it’s really important to understand that this is a different group of individuals,” Malafronte said of the fraternity’s newest initiates. “The reason that I’m on campus this semester is to help lay the foundation in the right way.”

Nearly one-fifth of Quinnipiac’s 6,000 undergraduate students participate in the institution’s rapidly expanding Greek life community, per the university’s website.

As of fall 2023, Quinnipiac hosts chapters of six North American Interfraternity Conference fraternities and nine National Panhellenic Conference sororities. Five cultural organizations — one fraternity and four sororities — also maintain expansion chapters on the Mount Carmel Campus.

Six members of Quinnipiac University’s newly re-established Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter pose with PJ Malafronte (back right), the fraternity’s director of expansion, eight years after campus officials banned the fraternity for hazing. (Peyton McKenzie)

But Malafronte emphasized that the re-established chapter does not aim to be “the stereotypical frat on campus.”

“In my head, there’s a difference between a fraternity and a frat,” Malafronte said. “And we want to be not frat boys but fraternity men.”

Although Quinnipiac’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life began receiving requests to re-establish TKE when the organization regained eligibility four years ago, Avery Moses, the university’s director of campus life for fraternity and sorority life, emphasized that “eligibility to return is not a guarantee to return.”

“Students have requested TKE’s return at various points since 2019, but this project has been entirely managed by the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life and Tau Kappa Epsilon staff,” Moses wrote in an April 2023 statement to The Chronicle about TKE’s impending return to Quinnipiac. “We decided to begin conversations about reestablishing in 2022 even though they have been eligible to petition to return since 2019.”

OFSL subsequently announced in a March 2023 Instagram post that TKE would begin reestablishing itself at Quinnipiac during the fall 2023 semester.

“Tau Kappa Epsilon has demonstrated that they are prepared to be a contributing organization on campus as they once were,” Moses wrote. “The feedback (OFSL) received has only grown on our confidence in this decision to bring TKE back to campus.”

Prior to its 2014 removal from campus, Quinnipiac’s Kappa Psi expansion had accumulated more than 25 chapter awards and nearly 730 lifetime members. Accordingly, Malafronte said, the newest members of the re-established fraternity will have the opportunity to engage with the chapter’s large alumni network.

We can’t change the past, but we can change our present and we can change the future as well.”

— Brandon Assi, a senior biomedical sciences major and a new member of Quinnipiac's Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter

“The benefit that these guys have is a long history of alumni from this chapter that they have the opportunity to network with, to use as resources, to go to for advice,” Malafronte said. “At the end of the day, alumni is what creates continuity in a chapter.”

John McCarthy, who joined Quinnipiac’s TKE chapter as a first-year student in the spring of 2009, credited the fraternity for making him the man he is nearly 15 years later.

“TKE sold me on becoming a brother of the fraternity for life,” McCarthy wrote in a Sept. 22 statement to The Chronicle. “Unfortunately, a few people making very dumb decisions led to the end of years and years of success on campus.”

But McCarthy, who served in several fraternity leadership positions during his undergraduate career, argued that TKE is “too important to Quinnipiac and to future potential members” to allow the 2014 hazing incident to define the fraternity’s future at the institution.

“As a former hegemon of the Kappa Psi chapter I can say that we have no room for the types of behaviors that got us kicked off campus,” wrote McCarthy, who graduated from Quinnipiac in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. “That being said, the situation is over now and it’s time to rebuild TKE at QU as an integral part of the Greek and student communities.”

Amanda Madera contributed to this report.

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Cat Murphy
Cat Murphy, News Editor
Peyton McKenzie
Peyton McKenzie, Creative Director

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