“No More Freshman Pledges,” University Tells Greek Organizations

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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:

Dear Students,

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.

Best,

Dean Mike

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 (9/25/14 11:35 PM): Statements from Rho Ep and DKE have been added above, as well as clarified information about the email announcing the elimination of freshman pledging.
Updated (9/26/14 3:24 PM): AEPi declined to comment, as did Eclectic yesterday.

Related links:

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)

  • Stereotypesreasy

    Yay’s post is completely unfair. Focus on Wesleyan. Wesleyan’s just released Clery report: (http://www.wesleyan.edu/publicsafety/Wesleyan_2014ASR.pdf), 15 reported sexual assaults in 2013, 13 are claimed to have taken place in a University residential facility, while 2 were alleged to have happened on non-campus property, possibly fraternities.

  • Yay
  • Concerned Alum

    It’s about “equity and inclusion” Roth/Boger want the “equity” in your house and then maybe they’ll “include” you.

  • The Lord Protector

    To Members of the Commonwealth of Wesleyan,

    As much as I despise the previous actions taken by President Roth and his illegitimate Cabinet, actions which are unconstitutional because they did not pass through the true legislative body of the Commonwealth of Wesleyan (The Wesleyan Parliament), Delta Mu Tau supports this decision and will not stop until all Greek Organizations are abolished from campus. These institutions are a burden from the past since they promote classicism, elitism, hetero normality, and most patriarchal forms of social organizing. Although President Roth is himself very much part of that same circle, it does not mean that we cannot agree on the same issues. Freshman are in deed vulnerable targets to these organizations and in some cases students are peer pressured to conform to these organizations, this is a despicable act. Thus as the representative of Delta Mu Tau, I hereby provide full support behind this decision. It is time to take back our campus and restore it to its former weird self and this includes getting rid of the Greek organization. However, in order to make this transition as feasible as possible, we hereby underline some steps. After this decision, the next step is to make all Greek Organization co-ed and for them to accept a large quota of female identifying students of color to live within their houses and to consult them before doing any house activities. The next step after that is to demolish the Greek Organizations and make each house they reside into either a residential building open to all students or a learning facility. Personally, Delta Mu Tau would like to have the DKE house as its center of activities, it would make the job of renaming the house easier since we would simply have to remove the letters Kappa and Epsilon and replace them with Mu and Tau. However, we understand that this change would not make us any better than the Greek Organizations, and it would also defeat the purpose on keeping our movement underground, thus we hereby declare that we will not take a house once the final process of De-Greeksation is complete. Now as far as the matter of siding with President Roth on this issue. Delta Mu Tau does not support President Roth on his other decisions which include, a few to refresh your memories, making the university need aware and under-funding the AFAM and Anthropology departments in the past, even thou those these departments have contributed to the diversity of ideas at Wesleyan as well as support for low income students and students of color. Those of you who support this decision, I encourage you to not be led astray, one possible good decision that this administration makes does not erase the fact that Wesleyan is still an elitist institution that has become more conservative, and inaccessible, over the years. So continue to rise up and challenge the administration in any way that makes you feel comfortable and safe.

    Sincerely,

    The Lord Protector
    Founder of Delta Mu Tau and Sponsor of the Wesleyan Parliament

    • live a lttle

      dude get out of your room. go outside it’s mad nice out

      • The Lord Protector

        Unfortunately, my position, and that of other Delta Mu Tau members, makes me work very hard towards making the Commonwealth a weird place once again and restore its former glory. We shall fight until all injustices are erased from the face of our beautiful Commonwealth! Thou making the Greek organizations co-ed and forbidding them from pledging first years is admirable, it still does not undue the damage that this institution has done to low income students, students of color, female identifying students, and the LGBTQ community. For this reason I will not rest nor silence myself nor will any Delta Mu Tau member. All citizens of the Commonwealth can rest assure that we won’t stop until the illegitimate bodies of power of our Commonwealth are done away with!

  • justthefacts

    Everyone is on a “need to know basis” with the Administration. Who knows what will be announced next… Those who live in even numbered rooms shall hop on their left feet. Those who live in odd numbered shall hop on their right, until further notice.

  • Jackie Freed

    This post is in response to an email from Gabe Rosenberg, whose email I have included below.

    Hi Gabe,

    At the time of the article’s posting, I was under the impression that these changes did not apply to Rho Epsilon Pi since I had not been included in Dean Whaley’s email. This afternoon, I and other Greek student leaders received an email from Elisa Cardona requesting a membership roster and citing Dean Whaley’s email as the source of this request. She then said, “In addition please take some time to read the e-mail below in its entirety as the safety changes articulated apply to all Greek organizations on campus whether they are residential or not.” This was the first time that I had heard of this directly from an administrator.

    Now that these measures do apply to us, I view this as an incredibly troubling oversight on the part of Dean Whaley and the rest of the administration because it directly contradicts their purported goals for our community. 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. 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. Given that women were first admitted to Wesleyan as first-year students only in 1970, it is unfortunate yet unsurprising that the University still struggles to establish gender equity on campus both within student life and the administration’s approach to campus issues.

    I find it problematic that I, along with other IGC members who supported Resolution D last semester, advocated for the addition of an official Greek Life administrator for some time and encountered a lot of resistance up until this point. Yesterday marks the first time that I’ve heard about the creation (or even possibility) of such a position, and it is frustrating that the administration did not take our desire for more interaction and guidance seriously last semester. The fact that the University has allowed Greek life to exist for so long without any official administrative positions or office to serve in an advisory capacity speaks to their own hypocrisy and reactiveness regarding issues surrounding Greek life on campus.

    Furthermore, I feel that Wesleying has at times negatively contributed to the campus discourse about by seeking to improve their site’s statistics via things like more sensationalist or “clickable” headlines and hasty reporting, such as including Rho Epsilon Pi as one of the organizations to which the new conditions applied without first confirming it with a member or the administration. I recognize that you worked to rectify this, and I appreciate that the nature of the site is conducive to real-time edits and updates. It is still unclear to me whether or not Wesleying is supposed to be or even aims to be representative of the wide range of student voices in its dissemination of campus news, but the impression I have gotten from multiple articles is that sometimes Wesleying contributers struggle with extracting their personal feelings from a more nuanced presentation of campus issues. The reality is that because you are Wesleying, members of and outside our community will continue to reference you as a primary news source on campus regardless of your audience recruitment strategies. This affords all of its contributors the enormous privilege of access to such a wide readership, and the associated responsibility should not be taken lightly.

    Ultimately my hope is that our fellow students will work together to open up new lines of communication, collaborate and establish what kind of community we want for ourselves and future generations. The incredible violence our community has overcome in recent years indicates that we all might benefit from stepping up even further and holding ourselves and the administration responsible for fostering a safer, more caring, and more supportive Wesleyan experience for all.

    As of Tuesday night, we had completed the Rush process and were planning to distribute bids tonight (Thursday evening), but have since suspended the process until further notice. Regarding the new class year restriction, I think a more reasonable alternative to the new measures would have been to request that first semester students not be allowed to rush instead of first year students, a practice that is common to many Greek systems at other universities. I’ll add that rushing during my freshman year was so powerful and rewarding because it gave – and continues to give – me a support system of women from all four class years that I would not have had access to unless I was on a sports team (a subject that is conspicuously absent from the discussion of single-gender groups of students with inherent hierarchies that enjoy privileges not afforded to non-members). Intentionally setting aside time each week to connect with other women on campus who I likely would not have met otherwise to choreograph dances, discuss the use of the word “biddie” around campus, or crowd into an Exley classroom for snacks and study hours has helped me create a home away from home. Especially at a place like Wesleyan, which has so many student groups and opportunities that students’ plates are overflowing, it is easy to get lost in the abundance of meetings and events and film screenings, etc.; the commitments of rushing and pledging allowed me to plant my roots more deeply in a specific community than I could have done otherwise. This more qualitative engagement helped me settle in to ownership of my “brainbodysoul” (to quote Marcia Aldrich) and leadership potential, for which I am incredibly grateful. I would like to continue offering this support system to incoming students during their first semester as well as other female-identifying students throughout our community.

    We are eager to collaborate with the administration to develop compromises that are both reasonable and effective regarding the regulation and future of Greek life on campus, but this is hard to do when we are not allowed a seat at the table. I hope that Rho Epsilon Pi will be allowed to continue contributing positively to our Wesleyan community, and ask that my peers from both inside and outside of the Greek system contact me with any ideas or suggestions about how our organization can help expand our communities values. Thank you for reaching out.

    Best,
    Jackie Freed ’15
    President, Rho Epsilon Pi

    Re:
    “Hi Jackie,

    My name is Gabe Rosenberg, and I’m an editor for Wesleying. I just published a post about an email from Dean Mike that went out to fraternities and societies about new requirements for pledging and prohibiting freshman pledges. Were you included on this email and in these requirements? And if so (or if not, even), do you have a comment about the new University oversight and requirements, and how it will
    affect Rho Ep?

    Thanks so much,

    Gabe”

    • yes

      “Furthermore, I feel that Wesleying has at times negatively contributed
      to the campus discourse about by seeking to improve their site’s
      statistics via things like more sensationalist or “clickable” headlines
      and hasty reporting, such as including Rho Epsilon Pi as one of the
      organizations to which the new conditions applied without first
      confirming it with a member or the administration.”

      PREAAAAACH. and everything else in this. you go.

    • Oversight?

      It wasn’t a matter of the administration ignoring Rho Ep or a matter of oversight. Until a student group goes through all the paper-pushing to register as a student group (whether that be Rho Ep, Chi Psi, or another freaking a cappella group), the Student Affairs office within the administration doesn’t really have the ability to exercise its right to impose its rules on the students.

      Maybe what we should all do is stop registering any of our student groups so that the Student Affairs Office may flounder. Decreasing the number of official student groups on campus would affect school stats and make our Admissions Office sound less desirable. A sort of… ransoming tactic, perhaps?

    • Samira

      It’s frustrating when people think that students involved with Wesleying care more about page views than about our peers, or that we go after sensationalist headlines. These are things we are explicit about *not* doing! Wesleying is a blog completely for students and it’s run by students (your peers). We try to be as inclusive as possible (really, anyone can join as long as they regularly contribute and help out!) but that only goes so far, as with any other student group.

      We are also definitely *not* an objective news source. Our posts range from the silly and mundane to more “serious journalism,” but we’ve never claimed to be unbiased nor will we try to be, unless the kind of thing we’re posting about calls for it. That being said, we’re not going to post something without having clarified the information we have first. We knew that this policy applied to all greek organizations because that’s what Dean Whaley told us. However, the non-residential orgs (Rho Ep, AEPi) didn’t receive the email at the same time as the residential ones, which was miscommunicated to us. This fact was rectified in our post.

      • Go Samira

        Boom. Yes.

  • DJCheshireCat

    Let’s get into semantics!

    Is it rushing/pledging to:
    1) Promote a society’s mission statement and core principles among non-members?
    2) Involve non-members in open events that showcase the strengths of a society?
    3) Provide non-members who are currently ineligible to join a society due to policy information about how they could join the society once they become eligible?
    4) Keep information regarding non-members who are currently ineligible to join a society due to policy but interested in joining the society once they become eligible so that they can be contacted once eligibility is established?

  • Phillip Ross

    Just to be clear, now is it obvious that the administration’s moves against Greek life are just using sexual assault as a vehicle towards gaining more control themselves? Call it a power play, but that’s a euphemism. Sexual assault, gender inequity, privileges assigned to residential fraternities like housing not being meted out for all-female or all-gender spaces, those are valid problems that need solving. This administration is not a partner in solving them. Or, perhaps, it would first solve it’s own criminal disregard for sexual assault cases.

    • Honestly,

      the topic of sexual assault has pretty much been absent within this entire “Greek Decision” for co-education made by the administration. I think it’s safe to say at this point that this Greek Decision did not at all use the debate of sexual assault, either as a vehicle for positive change or as a vehicle for “power plays”.

      Further, it seems as though this Greek Decision is founded upon the issues of equity and inclusion (for which there is an office within North College, first floor, go there undergrads, bother them, ask them questions about why this entire thing is blowing up in all of our faces) rather than on increased safety measures for either sexual violence or substance abuse.

      My issue at the moment is that these new “safety” measures that Whaley is calling for are… nonsensical.

  • Confused

    Eclectic isn’t greek though…

    • Lexie

      Eclectic does not use their letters, but they are Phi Nu Theta

      • Eclectic alum

        Actually, the Phi Nu Thetas disowned Eclectic in 1970.

  • A Newly Furious Alum

    “The rationale, in part, is to allow frosh to get established with their academics and the campus prior to rush/pledge activities”

    Some of the most academically successful students at Wesleyan are members of these organizations who rushed and pledged their freshman year. Many of them organizationally strive for academic excellence. Alpha Delt is called a “Literary Society” for goodness’ sake.
    Furthermore, Eclectic is heavily involved in music, DKE and Psi U with athletics. Greek life IS a part of campus for some; and getting involved, if one wants to, IS to become “established with… the campus”.
    Whaley has no evidence that freshman pledges are less established on campus. This is a baseless point.

    “Frosh can also be quite susceptible to peer pressure so we hope to reduce the possibility of hazing activities by implementing this restriction.”

    Again, with the baseless claims. Wesleyan already has thorough policies and procedures for anti-hazing (which were severely lacking for cases of gender equity and sexual violence until recently). Neither has there been a growing concern of hazing within the Greeks, nor has there been any analysis that hazing disproportionately affects freshmen.
    And by the way, hazing probably occurs just as everywhere as everything else does.

  • Fuck Roth

    Fucking fun police

  • wincheck

    So long, Eclectic.