AEPi, Rho Ep Ask for Consideration Before Student/Administrator Committee; Roth Says No

You may have heard of the controversy surrounding AEPi and Rho Epsilon Pi’s joint petition to be considered for a spot as a program house. Essentially, 230 Washington, previously Interfaith house, is opening up to become a new program house. Anyone can propose a new theme, given that you get signatures of interested peoples to live in it. Applications are due to ResLife this Friday, November 30.

The issue is that Roth has unilaterally banned AEPi & Rho Ep from applying and presenting their proposal to the committee of students and administrators. Regardless of their specific missions, AEPi and Rho Ep feel that “this is discriminatory and a violation of the program housing application process.” (Full quotation from petition after the jump.)

I reached out to President Michael Roth ’78 for a comment on the controversy, and he responded briefly:

I do want to note that I have not banned anything. The university has had a long-standing policy (in place before I became president) not to expand residential Greek life on campus. I agree with this policy and see no reason to change it.

What does Wesleyan think? Is all Greek life created equal? Is Roth justified in banning AEPi/Rho Ep from presenting before the committee? How would this effect the campus socially, Roth politically? Sign the petition here, or join the Facebook group.

Full disclosure: I am a brother of AEPi, and I also happen to write for Wesleying; naturally, I volunteered to write this article when it came time to get the word out. I beg pardon if you feel that I’ve engineered my article in any way manipulative.

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21 thoughts on “AEPi, Rho Ep Ask for Consideration Before Student/Administrator Committee; Roth Says No

  1. itsme

    No we dont need more Greek life at Wes. Please get over it and move on. There are more pressing issues. Also to the writer who wrote this please do your research on the history of greek life and why it was banned. CLASS OF 2009

  2. Sup

    even if the fact that you have to pay makes frats exclusive, they have the best parties and do more com service then like all the other student groups. i mean, “frat” shouldn’t have some old-fashioned and static stereotype attached to it. I’m submitting another house proposal, regardless, aepi/rho should at least be allowd to submit an app, c’mon

  3. WASP

    Rho Ep isn’t a Greek society, if they just admitted that then they could apply for the “popular” white girls program house.

  4. alum

    it’s a slippery slope once you start allowing more greek life on campus – do you really want Wes to be 50% frats and sororities?

    1. student

      It’s a slippery slope to use a slippery slope fallacy, but it remains just that: a fallacy. There will only ever be as many frat houses as either the administration allows and the student body demands. In order for “Wes to be 50% frats and sororities,” 50 percent of Wes would have to actively want to be Greek, and we can all agree that if half of Wes wanted to be greek, they would be. As seen with the brothers of AEPI and the sisters of Rho Ep, a frat house does not necessitate greek life; rather, it is the collective desire and actions of groups of students and the subsequent desire of other students to join that give rise to and propagate such student organizations and whatever culture may follow. To assume that another Greek house (or any number of any program house) at wesleyan would suddenly and catastrophically “disrupt” the culture is fallacious at best. Greek life already exists at wesleyan, so any change that the presence of greek life may effect has already happened. Furthermore, no one comes to Wes as a member of a greek organization, but rather the greek organizations are made up of people who first existed solely within the wesleyan, and not the greek, culture. Greeks aside, any group of people who apply seriously for program housing most likely represent the interests of a considerable population existing within the wesleyan community already- inclusion of any group in the application process for program housing should not be seen as tainting the culture, but rather as reslife respecting and reflecting changes in the student body. Do you really want Wes to be 100% a school that limits the rights of certain student groups, not on empirical grounds, but by irrational and biased generalizations?

      1. alum

        Why do these organizations classify themselves as Greek to begin with if they don’t wish to be associated and grouped with the other Greek societies on campus? Wesleyan’s peer schools (for the most part) got rid of Greek societies 25 years ago for a reason. You should consider yourselves lucky that Wesleyan still has any Greek life at all.

        1. student

          who said anything about not wanting to be associated and grouped with other greek societies on campus? What I am saying, however, is that they shouldn’t be associated with the general misconception of what it means to be a greek organization, or what it means to be any of the other individual frats. Each Greek organization is comprised of different members, traditions, and ideals, and while many of these have qualities that overlap, it would be incorrect to mistake this overlap for homogeneity. And as for your second point, I chose to go to Wes because I thought it was different and a better fit for me than its peer institutions. Saying that we do not follow the same policies as other schools gives your argument no validity. such differences help define wesleyan and distinguish it from every other small liberal arts school. Part of learning how to think is not accepting precedent or “the way things are done” at face value, because the existence of an institution or policy does not necessitate its morality, ethicality, or rationality. While I appreciate the sentiment, I would propose that in fact you should consider yourself lucky that Wesleyan had greek life during your time here- it would surely be a different place without it, and change seems like the exact thing that you are trying to avoid.

          1. alum

            While I agree with your point about overlap and a lack of homogeneity among Greek organizations, it still is an organization of exclusion, no? Only people who identify themselves in a certain way can join? If I am incorrect, then I retract my earlier statement.

            As to following our peers, you’d like to think Wesleyan is a lot different, but if you spend a lot of time on other campuses, you’d be surprised how similar we really are. Sure, the activism is a little more active, there are a few more hipsters on campus, and students are more self-motivated to change the world, but by and large, Wesleyan is little different from the Amhersts and the Middleburys of the world. Don’t misconstrue my post as saying that eliminating Greek like would be positive. I disagree with that sentiment. I was instead comparing other schools eliminating Greek life to Wesleyan limiting its expansion. Perhaps Wesleyan does not want to find itself in its peers’ position of 25 years ago.

          2. student

            so, let’s pretend for a second that we don’t already condone exclusivity in institutions and organizations by going to a top-tier (what new rankings?) private liberal arts school (while we are speaking about exclusive policy, any alums out there reading this, a larger endowment would probably allow us to regain need-blind status). I believe you are once again falling into the alluring trap of the myth of Greek homogeneity. I think that the only certain uniform sentiment of the individuals of greek life is that they all want to be involved in greek life. However, you are right, these organizations are exclusive, but by far the largest numbers of excluded individuals are those who choose to exclude themselves from Greek Life. You don’t need to know any secret handshakes or passwords to rush- that would be absurd. all you need is the desire to be a part of the organization. Membership is somewhat subjective, this is true, but in this regard, i might propose that the myriad a cappella groups on campus break more hearts every year due to subjective exclusivity than all of the greek organizations combined (i might even bet that this could hold true for a few of the larger a capella groups by themselves). Yet here we are, debating greek housing, and not a walk-on mega-choir. Also, exclusivity and exclusion are different. For example, the program housing process is supposed to be one of exclusivity, in that only certain program houses, deemed worthy of the all-mighty wood frame by the administration, are established after a semi-objective judging process and successful implementation of an open (democratic) application system. however, this year, it happens to also be a process of exclusion, in that greek organizations, despite fulfilling the prerequisite “student group” status, are not allowed to apply on the basis of being specifically a “greek organization.” Funny enough, this is an active exclusion, which no national Greek organization would condone, and hopefully, no local Greek organization would take part in.
            As for your second point, all i have to say is this: any difference is a difference. small differences between similar things become defining characteristics. while there may not be a clear cut reason, here are clear cut facts. Wesleyan did not ban greek life. Wesleyan is different than similar institutions, if nothing else but culturally; however, that difference can be huge. perhaps wesleyan should have more faith in the culture that their students propagate, and not the culture that their houses propagate.
            i apologize if i misrepresented your argument. understand how those last sentences might be interpreted as negative.

          3. alum

            Honest question – what is the requirement to join these new Greek societies? Do you have to be female to join Rho Ep? Male to join AEPi? Jewish?

            As per your quote:”However, you are right, these organizations are exclusive, but by far the largest numbers of excluded individuals are those who choose to exclude themselves from Greek Life.”

            The difference is forced exclusion vs. chosen exclusion. Certain people can’t, by definition, apply to these Greek societies (correct me if I’m wrong!), whereas for all other student groups on campus, no matter my sex/gender/ethnicity/SES/etc, I can at least apply (though as you said, acceptance can be subjective).

            I have nothing against Greek life, but I think what I’m suggesting is one of the reasons why the administration may be hesitant to give them more space on campus. They are grandfathering in the current frats, but they don’t want to make it more prevalent.

  5. Well-researched

    It should be noted that Eclectic, DKE, PsiU, Beta, and ADP are all program houses. In the past, there were even more program house fraternities, but they’ve been driven off.

  6. exfrat

    You have to pay to be in a greek society. Therefore this would be a prog house for paying club members. The rationale for a greek society arguing that it should be eligible for program housing escapes me.

      1. iwill

        While there are reasonable dues that both of these organizations require in order to carry out their functions, not dissimilar to the dues my roommate who is on the sailing team and had to pay to be on it because there are a lot of cost attached to sailing, both Rho Ep and AEPi are extremely understanding about the fact that some people don’t have the means to pay these dues and they work it out within the organization. No one would ever be banned from being a part of this house or either of these programs due to financial reasons.

    1. disqus_DdKq9I4mUV

      Eclectic is a program house… And AEPi and Rho Ep, despite my utter disinterest, does not strike me as the Greek life that the administration was trying to curtail with this policy.

      1. Hey!

        My two issues are that they’d be taking up space formerly dedicated to program houses and creating a more exclusive club that forces members to pay to be a part of it.

  7. Slim

    The petition mentions that the house would be “gender-integrated”. Does this mean that men and women would be living together in the same rooms, sharing common space, and gender neutral bathrooms? Or does it just mean that they would be splitting the space between them ala writing house/fullhouse, which is essentially just two studetn that happen to live in the same building.

    Not that I have a problem with either, it just makes a difference.

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