Throughout the 1980s, Hillsdale’s Tau Kappa Epsilons suffered a variety of issues with regards to their house ranging from problems with neighbors to the literal destruction of the house.
It certainly cannot be easy to be neighbors with an active 1980s frat house, and the TKE’s neighbors felt the burden.
On Nov. 3, 1983, The Collegian reported, “‘We don’t expect them to be church mice, but we want them to be responsible.’ The neighbor cited noise of people leaving weekend parties as the most offensive transgression of the TKEs.”
The article continued, “Another neighbor commented that it isn’t the meter of the house who park on his lawn, but ‘the whole campus’ which attends the TKE social functions.”
I must say that these party-goers were quite bold just assuming that the neighbor’s lawn was their personal parking lot.
Due to these complaints, The Collegian reported that the college instituted “a Good Neighbor Policy to improve the relationship between the house and its neighbors. Under this policy neighbors are asked to contact the house directly with any complaints and suggestions.”
This arrangement appears to have improved relations until 1988, when a different disaster overtook the TKE house.
On Feb. 4, 1988, Collegian reporter Christopher Perme wrote, “Over Christmas break, the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity house was damaged by a freak accident due to a boiler failure.”
He continued, “The boiler failed which caused the water in the pipes to freeze. The pipes then expanded and broke, sending water everywhere.”
In an unfortunate turn of events, the Hillsdale City Building Inspector condemned the building.
Perme reported, “Mr. (Richard) Emery, who declared the TKE house officially condemned stated, ‘Not only was it condemned for the water damage, but also applicable is the housekeeping, or lack thereof, that leaves their house uninhabitable.’”
I must say that having a building condemned is an extremely low point, even for a frat house.
One of these apparent issues may have been the legendary beer faucet in the TKE house.
On Oct. 28, 1999, The Collegian reported, “They did not have beer flowing out of all their faucets. Just their upstairs kitchen faucet.”
Sorry, that does not make this feat of engineering any less iconic.
The article continued, “The sink was basically an extended tap, according to the TKEs. A ‘mechanically inclined’ individual was able to hook it up to a keg, which was stored under the sink. Although it was mostly used for midweek parties, no water ever ran from that sink.”
The shenanigans had to come to an end at some point, and in 1996 the TKE house was finally demolished.
On Sept. 12, 1996, Collegian reporter Casey Fatchett wrote, “Students returning to Hillsdale’s campus this semester noticed the absence of one particular building, the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity house. The TKE house was demolished one week prior to the beginning of fall classes.”
Fatchett reported that this followed the college’s decision to disband the fraternity.
He wrote, “In early spring, 1996, the fraternity’s alumni association sold the house and the land to Hillsdale College.”
Fatchett continued, “After inspecting the property for possible use as offices, the college decided that the potential cost of renovation outweighed the projected usage, and had the building destroyed.”
Personally, I find it very confusing that the college did not utilize an office building with beer running out of its faucets, so I have to assume that this decision ties back to the pipe explosion in 1988.
Although the house and fraternity have disappeared from Hillsdale College, the legends of the TKEs continue to live on.