The former longtime executive director of the national Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity says the national organization has known for at least 30 years that LSU’s chapter had severe problems and that those meant to supervise the fraternity within LSU knew of problems as well.
After nine members of the fraternity's LSU chapter were arrested last week amid allegations they beat pledges with pipes, urinated on them, doused them in gasoline and more, questions have simmered about whether university administrators knew about problems at DKE but allowed the fraternity to continue operating. LSU President F. King Alexander announced late last week he had placed multiple administrators on leave after receiving an allegation that they had not responded appropriately to rumors about DKE.
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The university has yet to name the administrators publicly. But multiple sources with knowledge of the suspensions, including current fraternity members and alumni, have confirmed to The Advocate they include Greek Life Director Angela Guillory, Assistant Greek Life Director Donald Abels and Dean of Students Mari Fuentes-Martin. LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard said Tuesday the university will not name them because of their “right to privacy under the Louisiana Constitution.”
In an interview with The Advocate, David Easlick, who was the executive director of the national DKE fraternity from 1989 to 2009, said LSU's DKE chapter was at constant risk of being booted off campus by the university during his tenure. Easlick now often testifies as an expert witness in hazing cases nationwide.
“I knew from the very beginning of becoming the executive director of DKE that LSU was a problem,” said Easlick, who was also the president of the DKE foundation before he became the fraternity’s executive director.
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Easlick said he was not alone in knowing about and trying to combat the problems at LSU’s DKE chapter. He described Guillory as well-meaning and well-regarded within the Greek community at large, but he said he does not see how she could have been in her position and not known “something was wrong” at DKE.
Guillory did not return messages Tuesday or last week.
“There is nobody associated with the fraternity in any way who doesn’t know this crap is going on,” Easlick said. “Anybody who’s ever had a chapter at LSU for more than a couple of years knows what’s going on. If they had chapter consultants down there, they literally know what’s going on. There ought to be a line in the police station right now of all the nationals, all the locals, all the pledge classes, turning themselves in.”
Easlick added that the list of people who should be coming forward to police should include representatives from other national fraternities who have witnessed hazing and current members of fraternities who have experienced it.
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"We are aware of the statements made by the former DKE executive director regarding incidents that he claims occurred during his tenure before he was terminated for cause in 2009," the national DKE organization responded Tuesday after The Advocate sent the fraternity Easlick's allegations. Easlick acknowledged he was fired from DKE, but said it was because of a combination of powerful alumni who became enemies during his long tenure at the organization, and because of his difficulties in trying to raise enough money to pay the fraternity's insurance following a major claim.
"Since he was terminated, we have made new governance changes that have limited his knowledge of the fraternity’s current policies and procedures that include new risk management protocols to better prevent unsafe and inappropriate behavior," DKE added. "Our policy and practice will be to continue aggressively investigating all credible claims of actions which might violate these policies, and to act decisively when we find those claims to be true."
Asked about Easlick’s allegations, LSU asked that The Advocate “be careful about reporting uncorroborated allegations from a former DKE employee.”
“If he was aware of issues within the fraternity at LSU, did he report those?” Ballard said. “If not, why not? What did DKE national do about any perceived problems within the chapter, and did they contact the university or LSU Police so we could work together to resolve those? We ask anyone with knowledge or information on any type of criminal behavior taking place within a student organization to report it to the appropriate authorities so they can fully investigate those allegations.”
Easlick recalled specific problems at DKE’s LSU chapter during his tenure and how the national organization tried to remedy them. He said while on his honeymoon in 2003, he got a call from a DKE alumnus who was helping with security after he said someone fell off the roof of LSU’s DKE house.
Only members of Delta Kappa Epsilon were supposed to know what happened inside their fraternity house on LSU's campus.
Only a few years later, he remembered a now-infamous incident when police responded to reports of suspicious activity during DKE’s initiation and found a goat inside of the house. Members insisted it was their symbol and mascot, though it raised enough questions that the chapter agreed to a two-year “introspection period” in which they banned alcohol and animals from the house.
Easlick said most fraternities, regardless of which Greek letters they use, historically embraced Freemasonry rituals in their initiations. And Freemason rituals are often rumored to also involve goats, he said. Easlick said he was a member of DKE at the University of Michigan.
“They try to scare them like they’re going to have sex with a goat,” he said about DKE chapters at a number of universities. “And no way does that happen, it isn’t real.”
At one point, Easlick said the DKE national organization hired an Army chaplain to move into the fraternity house on LSU’s campus. He said he hoped someone with military training could restore order to the DKE house. But after his first year of the post, the national organization stopped paying his salary, and DKE alumni started to pay it instead.
At that point, Easlick said the chaplain became ineffective while the alumni were less interested in cleaning things up. They would even send the chaplain on weekend trips while the students partied.
The Advocate has reached out to the former Army chaplain, but he did not immediately respond to a message.
Easlick said DKE's LSU chapter was an outlier.
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“From my experience, that is the worst campus as far as hazing and alcohol, anything you can abuse,” he said. “It’s really a bad campus for hazing.”
The national fraternity told The Advocate that its top priority is to provide a safe and healthy environment for members and guests. The organization said the allegations about problems at LSU's DKE chapter came from an alumnus.
Easlick also said a DKE pledge told his DKE alumnus grandfather about being hazed, and the alumnus reported it to the national fraternity.
"We took swift action against our LSU chapter in January when we first learned of allegations from an alumni member," DKE said in its statement. "We immediately informed the university and our local alumni board that we would conduct an investigation, and within 12 days of learning of the allegations, the DKE Board revoked the chapter’s charter. We also complied with the Gruver Law, which we strongly support, in forwarding the findings of our investigation to the LSU Police Department."
Easlick said he believes LSU has missed two opportunities, 20 years apart — the 1997 death of Sigma Alpha Epsilon member Benjamin Wynne after a night of drinking and the 2017 death of Max Gruver amid allegations of forced drinking — to fundamentally change its Greek culture. He described Gruver's case as "the exact same situation as Wynne" and said he was horrified that it could happen again at LSU.
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Alexander said in his statement late last week that LSU is “making important cultural changes” and the university remains committed to weeding out dangerous behavior. Alexander added that hazing would not be tolerated on LSU’s campus.
In the same week last month that the DKE national organization and LSU announced they were shutting down DKE’s presence on LSU’s campus, LSU also quietly parted ways with vice president of student affairs Kurt Keppler. Ballard said Tuesday that Keppler is still employed by LSU — a directory lists his title as “special assistant to the executive vice president and provost” — and said the change was “not related to the DKE issue.”
Easlick said the university needs to revamp its structure for house mothers and house fathers for Greek houses, who are meant to be chaperones but who he said have little to no power when it comes to enforcing rules and cracking down on hazing. He said those positions should be given similar authority to resident assistants in dorm halls, who are obligated to report problems. If house mothers and house fathers are paid by Greek alumni, which they often are, he said it makes them less effective.
Easlick said LSU needs to entirely suspend Greek activity and alumni participation until the university gets it right. But he applauded the state's new Max Gruver Act, and the way in which Louisiana laws hold national Greek organizations responsible for hazing as well.
”This is the strongest statute anywhere in the country at the moment," Easlick said. "The fact that DKE national did turn themselves in is amazing. They obviously do intend to take it seriously. This is the best thing that’s ever happened as far as I can see — thanks to Max Gruver’s parents for it, what a terrible way to have to do something.”
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