Tag Archive for fraternities

Connecticut Supreme Court Reverses Trial Court DKE Decision

President Michael Roth is gathering information and ideas from the Wesleyan community regarding the future of Wesleyan's fraternities.

The Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) residence is on High Street.

On March 5, the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed the 2017 trial court’s judgement in Kent Literary Club v Wesleyan. This judgment had imposed damages on the university, requiring Wesleyan to contract with the owners of the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) residence to house students.

Wesleyan officials said they are pleased by the Connecticut Supreme Court’s decision and hoped that it would put an end to the matter, though they noted that the fraternity may choose to continue its litigation.

In fall of 2014, after receiving much input from the campus community and consulting with the Board of Trustees, Wesleyan announced that all residential fraternities had to become fully co-educational over the following three years. Wesleyan knew that for many students and alumni, their experiences in residential organizations like DKE and others were truly formative—the basis of lifelong relationships and the development of leadership skills. The university saw no reason why these experiences should be confined to male residences or offered only on a “separate but equal” basis. Furthermore, Wesleyan was also well aware of the safety issues that had occurred at the fraternity houses, which the institution had an obligation to address.

The move to co-educate residential fraternities was intended to make Wesleyan a more equitable and inclusive campus. Wesleyan has been committed to co-education since the 1970s, and university officials said it was time to end the exception that allowed all-male organizations to house students in the private residences they own on the border of campus.

When Wesleyan announced this move to co-education, DKE made clear that it was opposed to the policy.  After extensive negotiations with the fraternity, Wesleyan concluded that the organization was unprepared to begin a process to accept women on full and equal terms. The organization sued the university in 2015, and Friday’s decision reverses the trial court’s judgment.

Since 2015, DKE has operated as a non-residential student organization. Before this semester began, however, that organization, along with a number of its members, was found responsible by a Student Conduct Board for a range of violations related to off-campus hazing activities, which were also a serious violation of university and governmental COVID-19 protocols. As a result, the Student Conduct Board suspended DKE as a student organization of any type, for at least two years. The DKE house remains off-limits to students.

Wesleyan is steadfastly committed to ensuring that its residential program is safe, fair, and accessible for all students, regardless of gender. The university is also committed to ensuring that all student organizations abide by university rules, particularly during the pandemic.

Update on Greek Life at Wesleyan

Since the announcement last September that residential fraternities must become fully co-educational over the next three years, Greek life on campus has changed in several significant ways.

The decision to mandate coeducation of residential fraternities came after several months of deliberations among students, faculty, staff, alumni and the Board of Trustees. While the three all-male residential fraternities were given three years in which to become fully co-educational, the deadline to present an initial co-education plan was the end of fall semester.

Psi U Suspended from All Social Activities

Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth and Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Whaley distributed the following announcement to the campus community today:

To the Wesleyan Community:

In the beginning of this semester, Wesleyan announced a series of changes aimed to make residential Greek organizations safer and more inclusive. Public Safety now has full access to the houses, and many fraternity members, like other students, are now participating in bystander intervention training and other programs to curb gender-based violence. In addition to these safety measures, in order to become more inclusive all Greek residential organizations are required to present a plan before the end of this semester to become fully co-educational over the next three years. The current undergraduate members of Psi U have made progress on such a plan, and there have been discussions with DKE students and alumni.

Recently a student reported a sexual assault, and the assailant was dismissed from the University. The incident took place after an unregistered pledge event at the Psi U fraternity in the fall of 2011. As has previously been reported, another student was dismissed from the University after being found responsible for sexual assault at a Psi U event in the spring of 2013. In the interest of critical privacy concerns, the University will not share details of these incidents, the second of which is currently the subject of litigation between the survivor and the fraternity.

Although this latest reported incident took place three years ago, when most current residents of the fraternity house were not yet associated with the organization, some sanction of the fraternity is appropriate. Effective immediately, Psi U will be placed on provisional (probationary) program housing status until the end of 2015. The fraternity will not be allowed to hold any social events during this period, and any violation of University regulations by the organization or its members during this time will result in loss of program housing status and the house becoming off-limits to students.

This action is consistent with our policies to support survivors, punish assailants and change the culture so as to eliminate elements that lead to sexual assault. To be clear, sexual assault is not only a problem of Greek organizations; it is a problem on campuses all over the country. Our university has the responsibility to provide a safe residential learning environment where all students can experience the freedom of a transformative education, wherever they live or choose to socialize. We take this responsibility seriously. Therefore, in addition to taking action against individuals found to have perpetrated a violent act, any campus-based organization that has sponsored events that create conditions with a higher risk of violence, including sexual assault, also will be held accountable.

We continue to believe that coeducational Greek life can contribute value to the University and look forward to receiving plans for coeducation from our residential fraternities before the end of the semester. We will continue to work constructively with student organizations, including Greek ones, in our campus-wide efforts to create the safest and most inspiring residential learning environment possible.

Michael S. Roth

Michael Whaley
Vice President for Student Affairs

(Story updated at 2:28 p.m. Dec. 1, to replace spring with fall)

Residential Fraternities Required to Become Co-Ed

On Sept. 22, President Michael Roth ’78 and Joshua Boger ’73, P’06, P’09, chair of the Board of Trustees, sent the following message to the Wesleyan community:

To the Wesleyan community:

As you may know, we have been considering the future role of Greek life at Wesleyan, and over the summer a great many Wesleyan alumni, students and faculty offered their views. Some have urged that we preserve the status quo; others have argued for the elimination of all exclusive social societies.

Wesleyan Declares Beta Fraternity House Off-limits to All Students

Citing incidents that raised serious questions about safety at the Beta Theta Pi house, Wesleyan has declared the fraternity residence off-limits to all university students.

The decision, announced Sept. 10 by President Michael Roth and Vice President for Student Affairs Mike Whaley, came three days after a sophomore woman was seriously injured in a fall from a third-floor window at Beta.

“We have lost confidence in the ability of the fraternity members to manage social and residential activities at the house and abide by university policies,” Roth and Whaley wrote in an email to the campus community. “Wesleyan has an obligation to do what it reasonably can to ensure the safety of every member of the community, including the Beta fraternity members and their guests. The Beta house will remain off-limits to all Wesleyan students for the rest of the academic year at least.”

The 15 students living at Beta were provided with alternative university housing, and asked to leave the premises by Sept. 15.

Roth and Whaley said their decision was “based on the long history of incidents” at Beta.

The most recent of these occurred during a party on Sept. 7, when the student fell three stories, sustaining multiple and serious injuries, and was airlifted to a Hartford Hospital. Public Safety and Middletown Police responded to the incident. As of Sept. 11, she remained in intensive care but her condition was reported to be improving.

The ban on Beta includes social events, and will continue at least through the academic year. “Down the road we are open to seeing from the fraternity a considered plan for the house and social activities there that satisfies our expectations for residential life at our university,” Roth and Whaley said.

There are three residential single-sex fraternities at Wesleyan, including Psi Upsilon and Delta Kappa Epsilon. In addition, there are coeducational residential societies including Eclectic and Alpha Delta Phi, and several nonresidential Greek societies, including Wesleyan’s only sorority, Rho Epsilon.

The fraternity residences are considered “program housing” at Wesleyan, although the properties are not owned by the university.

Trustees, Roth Discussing the Future of Wesleyan Fraternities

The Board of Trustees has asked President Michael Roth to propose a plan for the future of fraternities at Wesleyan, following a discussion at their spring meeting May 22-23.

On his blog, Roth said he would deliver a plan to the board soon, ideally before the start of the next semester but at the latest before the next board meeting in November. His thinking has changed since his first year at Wesleyan, when he wrote about his support for Greek life, Roth said.

“Six years of hearing about high-risk drinking at fraternities and dealing with fallout from highly publicized incidents of sexual violence have had an effect,” he wrote in a blog post this week. “ Of course, the larger world has changed too. Today there’s more emphasis upon Title IX and a much greater awareness of sexual assault. The U.S. Department of Education says that under Title IX, schools must “take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end the sexual violence, eliminate the hostile environment, prevent its recurrence, and, as appropriate, remedy its effects.”

Roth cited a WSA survey showing that 47 percent of Wesleyan students feel less safe in fraternity houses than in other party spaces; the great majority of those think that making the fraternities co-educational would be helpful in making those spaces safer.

“Are fraternities at Wesleyan hostile environments?