The all-male residential fraternity Psi Upsilon has been placed on probationary housing status and suspended from all social activities through the end of 2015, according to an all-campus email today from President Roth and Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Whaley.
These new sanctions come as a direct result of two reported sexual assault cases against Psi U—one of Wesleyan University’s three all-male residential fraternities, and one of five total Greek residences, on campus—with the first incident occurring at an “unregistered pledge event” in spring 2011, and the second in the spring of 2013. The second case is detailed in a lawsuit filed in March 2014, currently pending against Psi Upsilon, the Wesleyan Xi Chapter, and several Psi U members (but not against the University itself), that asserts negligence on the part of the defendants. The perpetrators in both cases, according the University, were “dismissed from the University after being found responsible for sexual assault.”
Although the email acknowledges that many or all of the current fraternity members were not present at the time of either assault, the University believes that “some sanction of the fraternity is appropriate,” and the resulting decision is “consistent with our policies to support survivors, punish assailants and change the culture so as to eliminate elements that lead to sexual assault.” This action follows a busy semester of changes to and increased oversight of Greek life on campus, including the announcement that the Beta Theta Pi house would be off-limits to students for the 2014-2015 academic year. The entirety of the email has been reproduced below.
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 spring 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
Vice President for Student Affairs
For further reading:
Wesleying: “Lawsuit Filed Against Psi U” (3/12/14)
Wesleying: “BREAKING: Beta Theta Pi Off Limits to Students for this Academic Year” (9/10/14)
Wesleying: “BREAKING: Residential Fraternities Must Become Co-Ed” (9/22/14)
Wesleying: “‘No More Freshman Pledges,’ University Tells Greek Organizations” (9/25/14)