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.
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.”
No, not Weiner. Beta Theta Pi has formally signed Wesleyan’s revised housing policy and will rejoin the university in the fall as an on-campus program house. This concludes a year of particularly icy Beta–administration relations—culminating last February with the announcement of a housing policy widely interpreted as a threat to student liberties. Time, how it flies.
Here’s the announcement in full:
We are pleased to announce that Beta Theta Pi, 184 High Street, has agreed to join Alpha Delta Phi, Delta Kappa Epsilon, and Psi Upsilon as participants in program housing beginning this fall. As such, Beta has been formally recognized by the University.
The agreement, that all of the historic Greek houses have recently signed, clearly outlines expectations for both residents and for University officials.
“‘We really want to create the safest environment possible,’ [David Pesci] said.”
Along with providing a general narrative of everything you pretty much already know, the Fox article, headlined “Wesleyan University Students Complain New Housing Policy Exerts Too Much Control,”
provides some especially interesting viewpoints from David Pesci, Wesleyan’s director of media relations, and Jeff Tanenbaum ’12
, president of Beta (and currently misspelled as “Tanendaum”). Despite last week’s striking student backlash, Pesci isn’t backing down:
“They’re stretching the definition of the rule,” Pesci said.
Pesci told FoxNews.com that next fall the regulations aren’t changing, just being more heavily enforced to protect the students. He said the revisions are being made only to tell students they will face disciplinary action if the rules are broken.
But Tanendaum isn’t convinced. He said if students wish to gather at any private society, such as “The Italian Society,” it would have to be approved by college officials, or else they could face consequences.