In perhaps the most momentous chapter of a saga dating back to the Fall of 2014, the Wesleyan chapter of DKE (Delta Kappa Epsilon) has just won another huge victory in its lawsuit against the university.
Just before 6PM today, President Roth sent out yet another email with the subject line reading “Campus Update.” This time, it was to inform us that a judge ruled that Wesleyan must allow DKE access to 276 High Street at the start of the Fall 2018. Three classes of students have never set foot in the fraternity, located directly across the street from President Roth’s house, but it may soon be open to undergraduates once more.
Wesleyan plans to file an appeal, but the exact path forward remains shrouded in mystery as of this evening. Read past the jump for the full email, and our key takeaways.
Campus update #XXXXX:
To the Wesleyan community:
Today, a judge ordered Wesleyan to allow the DKE fraternity house to reopen to students in fall 2018. We are disappointed by the court’s decision and will file a notice of appeal immediately. In the meantime, we will ask the judge to delay enforcement of the order until the appeal is decided. At the present time, the DKE house remains off-limits to students.
While we respect the court’s authority, we have deep concerns about the legal basis for the order and its impact on Wesleyan’s ability to oversee the safety and integrity of our residential program—a crucial part of the education we offer. Wesleyan’s residential co-education policy reflects our core values of equity and inclusion. When Wesleyan announced this policy, DKE made its opposition clear, and has never demonstrated to the university that it would fully embrace the policy and be the kind of partner Wesleyan needs in something as important as student housing. Wesleyan will continue to insist on equal access to, and full and equal participation in, all residential housing for our students, regardless of gender.
Michael S. Roth ’78, President
Donna Morea ’76, P ’06, Chair of the Board of Trustees
A few key highlights to mention from Roth’s email:
- The court order sets DKE’s reopening to Fall 2018.
- There is no mention on the success of DKE’s demand to quadruple the rent damages (to over $1 million) that were awarded DKE by a jury in June.
- Wesleyan will continue to draw out the legal battle through filing an “immediate” appeal.
- As in the original coeducation mandate from Fall 2014, Roth cites “equity and inclusion” as the guiding principle of the policy.
- Roth makes no mention of the fact that DKE proposed their own co-education plan following the mandate, which the university denied, sparking the chain of events that led to DKE losing their house. The details of the DKE co-ed proposal have never been made widely available.
Wesleying hasn’t covered some of the more recent updates to suit, but if you’re interested in learning more about what’s happened in the past few months, the Argus has done some truly exhaustive reporting on the issue (see the links at the end of this post).
Since the email was sent out an hour ago, we’ve already received two tips from the TipBox. One of them is a pitch of sorts, with a title length that would scare any SEO predictor:
Idea for article: “President Roth decides that wasting 1.2 million dollars isn’t enough, informs Wesleyan community that school will waste another hundred thousand dollars on an appeal with no chance of success.”
The other one seems aptly worded for Twitter’s new 280 character rule:
Roth Creed, part 1:
Never admit Wesleyan has made a mistake or done something wrong. Ever. Defend every misdeed to the death.
In all seriousness, I have a lot of thoughts about this decision. Naturally, they won’t crystallize until we know more legal specifics about the decision. I think the first tipster does raise an interesting question that the administration does need to answer: Is an endless string of appeals—in the light of no legal victories for Wesleyan—a worthwhile allocation of resources?
Another question that arises in light of this decision, and in light of the upcoming Community Forum on Eclectic potentially regaining their house, concerns issues of accountability. Are there currently adequate structures—from the student perspective—that ensure residential Greek societies at Wesleyan are held accountable for the violence and negligence that has historically occurred in these spaces? Another way to ask this: are the optics of equity and inclusion just a stand-in for more tangible institutional change?
Certainly, from President Roth’s emails and from the reporting done since May, no clear action plan that takes DKE’s reinstatement seriously has been communicated to students. How, or whether, the fraternity will co-educate is just one of many questions hanging in the air regarding this decision. Regardless of the fate of Wesleyan’s appeals, it is time to open up the process of DKE’s potential reinstatement to a campus-wide conversation, not one that takes place solely behind administrative closed doors.
If you have any thoughts or information regarding this decision, please email staff[at]wesleying[dot]org or submit a tip through our TipBox.
For further reading:
- From the Argus: “DKE v. Wesleyan: Judge Deliberates Post-Verdict Motions, Decision on Dec. 4” (Dec. 1, 2017)
- From the Argus: “DKE v. Wesleyan: What You Need to Know About Last Week’s Hearing.” (Nov. 27, 2017)
- From the Argus: “DKE v. Wesleyan Court Date Looms” (Nov. 9, 2017)
- From the Argus: “DKE Increases Claim to Nearly $1.2 Million, Alleges Co-Education Policy a Double Standard.” (June 29, 2017)
- From the Argus: “DKE Lawsuit Reaches Verdict as University is Found at Fault, Talks to Follow.” (June 18, 2017)
- From the Hartford Courant: “DKE Wins Claim Against Wesleyan In Trial Over Fraternity House Closure” (June 15, 2017)
- From the Hartford Courant: “Jury Begins Deliberations In Wesleyan Fraternity House Case” (June 14, 2017)
- From the Hartford Courant: “Wesleyan President: Fraternity Did Not Take Coeducation Plans Seriously” (June 8, 2017)
- From the Hartford Courant: “Trial Over Wesleyan Fraternity House Closure Focuses On DKE’s Co-Ed Plan” (June 7, 2017)
- From the Hartford Courant: “Fraternity At Trial Accuses Wesleyan Of “Moving Goal Posts” On Co-Ed Plans” (June 6, 2017)
- From the Hartford Courant: “Trial Begins Tuesday In Middletown In Wesleyan Fraternity House Closure” (June 6, 2017)