Following Monday’s announcement that Wesleyan’s single-sex residential fraternities (Psi Upsilon, Delta Kappa Epsilon, and theoretically Beta Theta Pi) must fully coeducate within three years, the University has already taken steps to enforcing this policy—but with new requirements affecting all of Greek life on campus. Beginning this semester, all Greek organizations are prohibited from taking freshman pledges.
In an email to residential Greek organization presidents on Tuesday, but which was only today brought to the attention of non-residential organizations (reproduced below), Dean Mike Whaley discussed the hiring of a new Greek Advisor and listed additional “safety measures” that now must be put into place by all Greek organizations on campus. The residential Alpha Delta Phi and Eclectic Societies are impacted, as well as the non-residential fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi (presumably Chi Psi, too) and non-residential sorority Rho Epsilon Pi.
Most notably, the University announced the elimination of “rush/pledging of first-year students,” starting immediately. Under this change, no students will be allowed to join Greek organizations until at least their sophomore year. Outside of frosh, rushing/pledging will continue as planned. In an email to Wesleying, Whaley clarified that “We are not eliminating rush/pledging this year. We are implementing a restriction on first-year students rushing/pledging during their first year on campus. Many institutions have a similar restriction.”
Princeton University passed a policy prohibiting freshman pledging in 2011, which began implementation in the fall of 2012. California Polytechnic State University did so in 2010, following the death of a freshman in an initiation ritual.
“The rationale, in part, is to allow frosh to get established with their academics and the campus prior to rush/pledge activities,” Whaley said. “Frosh can also be quite susceptible to peer pressure so we hope to reduce the possibility of hazing activities by implementing this restriction.”
Beyond eliminating freshman pledging, Greek organizations must also submit their membership rosters annually to the Dean of Students, attend an expanded Leadership@Wes workshop series, register all public social events, and submit a plan in advanced about their pledging/rushing events before each cycle, whether annually or biannually.
Whaley said that while the University has information about who lives in the Greek houses, it does not have information about the non-residents or about non-residential organizations. Meanwhile, Whaley’s office is currently developing the job description of “Greek Advisor,” and will post the job as soon as it is approved. “I expect that students, including members of Greek organizations, will be involved in the search process when it commences,” Whaley said.
According to Jackie Freed ’15, president of Rho Epsilon Pi, Rho Ep was informed of the policy changes today, after the residential fraternities. As of Tuesday night, Wesleyan’s only sorority had completed its rush process and was planning to distribute bids tonight, a process that has now been suspended.
In an email (also posted below in the comments), Freed criticized the University’s refusal to consider the organization’s legitimacy as a student group, as well as the administration’s failure to properly work with Greek life in an official capacity until now. “I question whether the administration truly desires equity for students of all genders if they have managed to overlook or ignore our existence as the only all-female-identifying Greek organization on campus regarding this issue,” Freed wrote. “However, given the administration’s lack of support for our organization in the past, and even more so for other marginalized groups on campus over the last several years, this sort of oversight seems to resemble the rule rather than the exception.”
In addition, Scott Karsten ’74, a brother and former attorney for Delta Kappa Epsilon, issued a statement today on behalf of the fraternity: “With this pronouncement, the Roth administration abandons the historical incrementalist path of political correctness and takes a quantum leap toward becoming the totalitarian regime it apparently aspires to be.”
The statement continues: coeducation “the ObamaCare equivalent” for President Roth’s legacy, is “overturning 150 years of contribution, service and dedication to Wesleyan as well as to DKE and the other fraternities.” Now, “under the guise of ‘gender equality,’ it [the administration] is not merely dictating who the members must and can associate with, but how they may use the ‘campus spaces,’ which in fact are privately owned and maintained as they have been for generations. Apparently some forms of ‘equity’ are simply more important than others.”
Eclectic and AEPi have declined to comment.
We reached out to other leaders of Greek organizations for their comments, and will update this post with their responses and any new information that comes up.
Dean Whaley’s original email to fraternities:
I want to follow up with you on additional safety measures for Greek houses that were discussed by the Board of Trustees this past weekend. In addition to coeducation of the all-male houses, the trustees endorsed the following safety measures to be implemented immediately for all Greek organizations at Wesleyan:
- Student Affairs will expand the “Leadership@Wes” series as part of the training/education required of Greek organizations. (This is a 6-week series of workshops covering bystander intervention, alcohol, hazing and sexual violence that was piloted last year.)
- All Greek organizations should submit membership rosters to the dean of students annually
- All Greek organizations should submit an intake plan listing all rush/pledge events to the dean of students in advance of each intake cycle
- Rush/pledging of first-year students to be eliminated, beginning this semester
- All Greek organizations should register all social events that are open to non-members, regardless of expected attendance.
Student Affairs will be hiring a new Greek Advisor in the office of the Dean of Students to work with and support you as we move through this transition in Greek Life at Wesleyan. We encourage you to come forward with your own initiatives, in addition to those above, which address safety and risk within your organizations.
We look forward to working with you as we move forward in our collective effort to make Greek life at Wes safer and more inclusive.
Updated (9/25/14 2:51 PM): According to an email by Dean Whaley, only the residential Greeks (fraternities and societies) were initially sent the email; Rho Ep and AEPi did not yet receive it. The original coeducation email was previewed to leadership within the Greek community on Sunday before being sent to everyone. The safety measures email was sent to leadership of residential Greeks on Tuesday, and will be circulated to non-residential Greek organizations soon. The email is reproduced below:
Coeducation e-mail was previewed to Greek leadership (undergrad and designated alumni reps) on Sunday afternoon, and went to the entire community on Monday morning.E-mail on safety measures was sent to Greek leadership of residential Greeks on Tuesday. The Student Activities Office will circulate the safety measures to non-residential Greeks now that student group registration is concluding.Best,Dean Mike
Updated (9/26/14 3:24 PM): AEPi declined to comment, as did Eclectic yesterday.
The Wesleyan Argus: “First Year Students Prohibited From Pledging Greek Organizations” (9/25/14)
WBUR: “At Wesleyan, A Mixed Reaction to Move to Co-Ed Frats” (9/25/14)
Wesleying: “BREAKING: Residential Fraternities Must Become Co-Ed” (9/22/14)
The Wesleyan Argus: “President Roth, Board of Trustees Announce Coeducation of Residential Fraternities” (9/22/14)
Wesleying: “BREAKING: Beta Theta Pi Off Limits to Students for this Academic Year” (9/10/14)