Fraternity TKE looking to return to campus after 20 years

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Tau Kappa Epsilon members
(Courtesy of Tau Kappa Epsilon/ Daily Titan)

In 1998, the Cal State Fullerton chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity received several different complaints including someone firing a handgun, an alleged rape, 700 people partying on the street and a bottle rocket setting fire to a neighboring roof, according to 1998 Fullerton City Council meeting minutes.

The fraternity received 13 noise complaints in a six-month period for several parties, according to a 2011 Daily Titan article.

After 20 years of operating off campus, the CSUF chapter is attempting to return to campus. The Interfraternity Council, who governs and promotes relations between the different fraternities and the greater campus community, will have the final say in November, said Chris Osmond, the current president of the fraternity’s Fullerton chapter.

CSUF Student Affairs placed the fraternity on a 6-month probation in 1998, but within the year they violated that probation and were removed from the Interfraternity Council. However, the national fraternity still recognized the Fullerton branch, according to a 1998 Daily Titan article.

“(The national fraternity) said, ‘You can still operate as a chapter,’ but the school said ‘You won’t be recognized by CSUF.’ There was kind of a schism there. We’re like the child of two divorced parents kind of, because we operate independently from the school, but (the national fraternity) said we can keep our charter,” said Jesse Rodriguez, former vice chair and secretary of the  CSUF Associated Students’ board of directors and Tau Kappa Epsilon alumnus.

The school made it clear that they would be willing to negotiate with the fraternity if it agreed to a 10-year cease and desist period, which would mean no action of any kind for 10 years. The fraternity decided not to, due to the fact that its charter was still upheld nationally and continued to operate separately from CSUF, Rodriguez said.

In 2008, the fraternity started looking into returning to campus. “It’s been 10 years. At that point, there’s been a lot of turnover in members, nobody really remembers what happened. Their idea was, ‘Hey, it’s been 10 years, we can get back on,’” Rodriguez said about the 2008 attempt.

Over the next several years, the idea of trying to come back to campus was still around, but no one was moving for it, Rodriguez said.

“The chapter was fairly small, but there was never a set plan,” he said. “There wasn’t much guidance from (Tau Kappa Epsilon’s) national organization in terms of what we could do.”

The first major steps forward came with Rodriguez’s own work with Associated Students.

“I really got to know how the university worked. It inspired me to take the initiative to lead this campaign for us to get back on,” Rodriguez said.

The fraternity and CSUF finally made an agreement in the fall of 2017. The fraternity would suspend all activity for the spring semester, and in the fall of 2018 they would be allowed back on campus to recruit, but only after all other fraternities had finished their recruitment, Rodriguez said.

Osmond said he has been overseeing both the cease and desist period as well as the process of recruitment this fall.

“We’re just trying to prove ourselves as a chapter that can benefit the school,” Osmond said. “We’ve been meeting with the leadership from other organizations. I guess you can call it lobbying for votes, but we’re finding out what they want from us, what they’re looking for in another fraternity, and what we can provide to that community.”  

Later this fall, the Interfraternity Council will vote on whether or not Tau Kappa Epsilon can return to campus. All eight fraternities will have a vote in the final decision, Osmond said.

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