On Thursday (Nov. 14) the brothers of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity will welcome the entire campus into their house between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. The current TKE president, Patrick Cook’14, spoke with the Terrarium about the organization’s history, image, and aspirations.
Terrarium: What's TKE like, as an organization? How would you describe it to someone who knows nothing about Greek life?
Patrick Cook’14: TKE is actually one of the world’s largest fraternal organizations, with 274 chapters spread across the U.S. as well as Canada. It started up originally in 1899, when a lot of progressive thinking was happening. At that point, fraternities were pretty exclusive entities, requiring members to have social status, wealth, or some kind of title/prospect about them. The five founders of TKE instead wanted to have members "not for wealth, rank, or honor, but for personal worth and character." Essentially, members in TKE are judged for what they do, not what they have, and must genuinely be a good person to initiate in Tau Kappa Epsilon.
T: How did you get involved with TKE? Did you have any perceptions/misconceptions about Greek life that have since been dispelled (or proven correct) since you've become a part of it?
PC: I got involved in TKE because I was in the TRiO program, where many members were TKEs. My peer mentor was the hegemon (education officer) and I stopped by TKE often. After being around the house throughout the first semester, and seeing how diverse TKE was in academics, athletics, and nationalities, I was instantly attracted to this place. I mean those flags out front represent countries in which members in the house have dual citizenship! There was one thing in common with everyone, though. They were all honestly great people with high aspirations and awesome qualities.
T: What improvements has the organization made to its physical house recently? And why?
PC: Like most houses on College Street this semester, our house had a lot of external work on it--we were inspired by the other work going on on College Street. New finish, new paint, the house looks incredible. The only things missing at this point are the shutters, and I'm sure they'll be done and returned to the house soon. We've also done extensive work cleaning out the house of old useless things. Overall, it looks fantastic. Even the doors, which some had marker stains and whatnot, have been cleaned.
T: Why is the frat hosting an open house, and why would you encourage people to come?
PC: The reason we want to hold an open house is because we want to show that we are a fraternity, and not a frat. The whole focus of this open house is that we understand there are misconceptions about TKE, or that people simply don't know about it. We want to open ourselves out to the entire campus, so that anyone who is curious, anyone who wants to actually know about TKE and the extreme progress the house has undergone in the past few years, can come and explore the house, the history, and the different brothers who live here. We do a lot of great things--parties, philanthropy and community service, intensive talks, and formal events.
But most if all, we have great people. The men in TKE are some of the most wholesome, smart, and capable people I know.