Tag Archives: fraternities

Letter to the Campus Community: A Call to Action

A letter from students, alumni, staff, and faculty to the campus community.Now

 TRIGGER WARNING: The following discusses the issue of sexual assault at Wesleyan and may be triggering for some readers. Community and official support resources can be accessed here, here, and here.

At the present time, there is an unprecedented political atmosphere on campus that affords our community a tremendous opportunity to take meaningful and effective action to combat campus sexual assault: co-educate and drastically reform our campus’s three all-male residential fraternities or forbid them use of their residential facilities.

This action has long been necessary, and in pursuit of this action there are a few facts that require illumination:

Guest Post: Don’t Assume “She’s Lying”

Warning: readers may find the contents of this article triggering. All quotes and anecdotes used in this article were experienced or overheard by the authors.

“She’s lying.” “It was her choice to go to the party.” “But frats raise money for charity.” The response to the recent lawsuit against Psi Upsilon fraternity reflects the extent to which rape culture pervades our community. Sexual assault is by no means an exception at Wesleyan: one out of every four college women is a victim of rape or attempted rape and one in every seven college men is a survivor of sexual assault. But only lawsuits like these draw national and international attention.

In light of the reaction to the most recent lawsuit, specifically the focus on fraternity community service and fundraising, victim-blaming, and “misreporting,” we would like to redirect conversation to the real issue: how to support survivors of sexual assault and how to prevent sexual assault on our campus. Fraternities are relevant to this imperative only to the extent that we must eliminate environments in which the much wider problem of sexual assault is exacerbated. This is not a solution, but it is an immediate first step toward preventing sexual violence.  

Lawsuit Filed Against Psi U

Read on for several community responses, including from Students for Consent and Communication and from President Roth.

From Wikipedia Commons. Where else?

A student filed a lawsuit against Psi Upsilon, the Wesleyan Xi Chapter, and several Psi U members on Tuesday. The lawsuit alleges negligence on the part of the defendants regarding a sexual assault perpetrated last spring against the student in the Psi U common room. This lawsuit does not name Wesleyan University itself as a defendant, unlike the previous lawsuit against a Wesleyan fraternity regarding a sexual assault. Instead, the lawsuit states that Psi U and its members violated its contract with Wesleyan which requires the fraternity to manage its events and keep its guests safe.

Wesleyan has, however, emailed all of us an official statement just this afternoon. President Roth’s email notes that the perpetrator of this particular sexual assault was dismissed from the University after disciplinary proceedings, in addition to sanctions against Psi U. President Roth’s statement in full: 

The College Bubble: A Higher Ed Round-Up

Unless you shut yourself off from the world this past week, you probably read, or at least heard mention of, The Atlantic’s feature story on fraternities and their dangers, which highlighted Wesleyan University and Beta Theta Pi. The article explores the role of fraternities on campuses, especially in the crafting of party culture and the rise of sexual assault. The article is long, but well worth the read, and has reopened space for dialogue on these issues.

The Atlantic, Fraternities, Wesleyan, You

Fraternities

Image via The Atlantic

The Dark Powers of Fraternities” was published this morning by The Atlantic. The article is the culmination of a yearlong investigation into the systemic power of fraternities and the tragedies derived therein, and prominently (ignominiously) features our very own Wesleyan University and Beta Theta Pi. In brief, the article describes fraternity organizations’ thoroughly American heritage, their roles in transforming the nature of higher education from the priest-factories of yesteryear into the often-outrageous party scenes of the modern day, and the complex trade-lanes of power, litigation, fundraising, and tragedy that have allowed the fraternity infrastructures to survive and thrive among even the most progressive of Universities. The article gets many, many things right, and I thoroughly agree with the sentiment of the authorthat colleges and universities are institutionally and structurally threatened by powerful organizations with outdated (and morally detestable) principles and priorities.

The article also gets a few minor points wrong, and misses a larger point: the cultural attitudes weas Wesleyan students, as American collegians, literally as humansaccept and collectively promote bears as much responsibility for the horrors described as do unscrupulous power structures protecting that culture. In other words, I am responsible for the continuation of awful events like those brought to light in “The Dark Powers of Fraternities,” and so are you. 

Check out Chique Chaque


From Simon Riker ’14:

Psi U may not be throwing any parties these days, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve completely withdrawn into our four-story man cave.

Turn the tides, see the brothers you’ve been missing and enjoy a fresh, home-cooked meal at Psi U’s eating club, Chique Chaque, tomorrow (Wednesday night) at 6:30.  Entertainment will be provided by campus duo, The Blooming Youth (Alex Lough ’13 and Emma Daniels ’13).

The meal is lasagna (vegetarian too, don’t worry).
The price is 10 points.

Facebook event here!
And check out the Blooming Youth!

Date: Wednesday, September 26
Time
: 6:30 pm
Place: Psi U
Cost: 10 points

Roth offers his views on Greek life

President Roth’s blog, Roth on Wesleyan, often provides a nice perspective on his interactions with the student body. Most recently, Roth blogged about his encounters with fraternities on campus.

At the end of the day, what’s his verdict? Fraternities are A-OK:

… As I’ve met with students around campus this year, I have visited with all the fraternities, including the Eclectic Society (which usually doesn’t see itself in this context). I have found them to be energetic, vital student organizations capable of making contributions to the campus as a whole…

And, while plans for expansion aren’t in the cards, it does look like a Roth administration won’t go out of its way to persecute Greek organizations:

… Fraternities have historic roots with alumni that are important to maintain, and I believe that the frats (including Eclectic) at Wes can continue to play a very positive role at the university. We will not be adding any new Greek societies because there are now many other ways for students to join together in residentially based groups. Wesleyan’s students have a rich choice of social organizations in which to participate, from the very traditional to the most avant-garde. I’m committed to keeping it that way.

Wesleyan Sings Vulgar Songs with "Gusto!"

This is an actual news article from The New York Times dated from October 18, 1908:

Wesleyan Songs Censored
Students Will Not Sing Vulgar Ones in Public Places

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. Oct 17–The undergraduates at Wesleyan University have voted to prohibit the use of all vulgar songs about the campus or any public place.

Although Wesleyan has furnished in the past a large percentage of ministers and Bishops to the Methodist Episcopal Church, the undergraduates’ life has had much the same tone as at all the American Universities. Vulgarity has crept into many of the songs and students have sung these songs with gusto. The class societies have been the prime offenders in this matter. Some of the songs of the Tau Nu Episoln, Kappa Gamma, and Pi Kappa Tau have been particularly objectionable.

For a few years it has been the practice to sing some of these songs on the streets [in the] evenings. The student body has now placed the ban on this, and it is expected that the societies will acquiesce.

Wesleyan Songs Censored. New York Times (1857-Current File): Oct 18, 1908; ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851-2003), pg. C8.

Greek Life

Societies:

Eclectic

Mission statement: “The Eclectic Society is a coeducational society composed of House Members and Associate Members scattered about the community. While many house members are involved in artistic, political, and musical endeavors, there is no definition of what an Eclectic member actually is or does. This contributes to what is the only truly static attribute of the society: change.”

The Eclectic Society, originally Phi Nu Theta, was established at Wesleyan in 1837. It later lost its Greek affiliation and is now only known as Eclectic. Their house, designed by Henry Bacon, is located on High Street next to the Public Safety office. They host some of the biggest parties of the year, notably the Halloween Party, Queer Prom, and the Sex Party. Their entire first floor consists of lots of wide open ballroom-style space, making it an ideal venue for shows—In the past, notable bands that have played there include The Walkmen, The Books, Mates of State, and the Unicorns.

The pledging process at Eclectic is somewhat different from that of the other societies on campus. Twice a year, they send out invitations through the mail to tons of prospective members and then have them fill out a long and, in Joe-John’s words, “weird-ass” application that’s almost zine-like in format—Last year, it was a xeroxed black and white booklet with graphics like dinosaurs and vintage woodcuts. It also involved tasks like matching female members’ names with photographs of breasts or a drawing a picture of you and your worst enemy fighting. Then they gradually cull the pledges until they initiate only a small percentage of the original number invited. There is very little active recruitment involved, which is the opposite from most other societies.

Alpha Delt

Mission Statement: “The Alpha Delta Phi Society is a self-governing coeducational organization dedicated to cultivating character, scholarship, and enduring friendships. Our literary tradition fosters lifelong intellectual growth, mentoring, and achievement among our members. We stay crunchy in milk.”

Alpha Delt has a fantastic house in the middle of campus that’s home to the Star and Crescent Eating Club, which is not really a club but rather a society-run restaurant. The house is across the street from Eclectic, and apparently in the olden days there was a healthy rivalry between the two; Even today the first cork popped during Alpha Delt’s initiation is fired in Eclectic’s direction.

ADP is famous for two things: Its food and the Grotto. The Grotto is a half-underground stone-walled cellar/den of sin where parties are sometimes held and a lot of rumors of ill repute begin. This is how Joe-John describes it: “Some people like to treat the grotto as another universe, where you’re not responsible for your actions and there is no such thing as time.” Good? Bad? Up to you.

Alpha Delt is the home of the Goth Party, Porn and Milkshakes, the Literary Ball, and a lot of raves; However, these are somewhat less widely advertised than some of the other parties on campus, so you may have to ask around for dates (Or read this blog!). Bands play there sometimes as well; For instance, World Inferno played at Alpha Delt two years ago, as did Harry and the Potters.

If Alpha Delt was a t-shirt:

Fraternities:

Psi U

Mission Statement: “The Xi Chapter of the Psi-Upsilon Fraternity exists in order to pursue personal responsibility, service to others, virtuous behavior, and a love of learning. The undergraduate members of the Xi represent a group of students with diverse backgrounds, interests, and directions. For the last 161 years, the ultimate goal of the Xi has been to contribute to the betterment of Wesleyan and society far beyond its numbers, which it continues to work towards today.”

Psi U’s house is on High Street, between Fisk and the power plant. Out of the fraternities at Wesleyan, Psi U is the one that most resembles an old boy’s club, but is at the same time the most widely accessible. As a society, they are intensely conscious of their image on campus and in the Middletown community at large. Perhaps because of this, they hold a LOT of events throughout the year. Their parties are widely attended; They attract a great variety of members as well as party-goers (there’s a DJ booth conveniently located above the main floor of the house) and for some reason, international students especially like to hang out there. They hold a lot of benefits, dance parties and concerts that have featured the likes of RJD2.

They also have a restaurant called Chique Chaque but apparently no one but fraternity members eat there these days.

If Psi U was a t-shirt:

Beta

Mission Statement: “Devoting a portion of one’s time and energy to serving others is considered by many as everyone’s public rent for the privilege of living and enjoying the benefits of our good life here at Wesleyan University. As preparation for life after graduation, Betas, individually and as members, devote a portion of each and every year to the perpetuation of a fraternity that strives for mutual assistance by carrying out honorable labors and aspirations in hopes of improving our sense of community here at Wesleyan University. Beta Theta Pi is an all-male fraternity that carries out a combination of social functions and formal rituals based on those of our general fraternity based in Oxford, Ohio. We host a variety of social events for Wesleyan students and participate in community service projects in the Middletown area. Our aim is to provide communal living for those interested in fraternity life and the pursuit of excellence.”

I know…nothing about Beta. They have loud dance parties and they sound like fun. They have a giant kiddie pool that they sit in with bikinied women when it’s hot out. There are lawn chairs on their roof. Just based on the number of people they have in The Tech, they seem fall somewhere in the spectrum of animal house-ness between Psi U and DKE.

If Beta was a t-shirt:

DKE

Mission Statement: “The true mission of Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) Gamma Phi Chapter at Wesleyan University is to bring young persons together to make lifelong friendships, accept roles of responsibility, and to maintain a standard of conduct in the highest order. This conduct coincides with the advancement and encouragement of intellectual excellence and of personal knowledge. The development of a spirit of tolerance and respect for the rights and views of others with dignity, self-respect, and moral basis. It is the responsibility of Delta Kappa Epsilon to provide an environment where these ideals can be discovered, formulated, and attained for the greater good of the Gamma Phi Chapter and of the entire Wesleyan University community.”

DKE has a bad rap around campus, stemming from the fact that it is the most typical fraternity around. Its ranks are populated by a disproportionate percentage of football players, people who drop cups during Mocon announcements, and those who hate Wesleyan in general. The only person I’ve ever heard use the adjective “faggity” was a DKE brother, and girls are sometimes warned not to go their parties alone (which I think is an unnecessary precaution…). Nevertheless, the brothers are, like most people, genuinely kind, and of course the niche would not exist without people willing to fill it. I hear they have amazing Around the Worlds and great open bars.

If DKE was a t-shirt:

Secret societies:

Skull and Serpent:
Skull operates out of the Tomb, a small box-shaped building with white columns by the CFA that was also designed by Henry Bacon. They throw a number of parties during the year, and often the door to their building will be open late at night.

Mystical 7:
The templum of M7 is a creepy-looking seven-sided building, but it was burnt down and now is boarded up just a bit further up Wyllys Avenue from the Tomb. There are technically two factions of M7, both of which are still in operation. For more about the Mystical 7, click here.

Theta Nu Epsilon:
TNE, aka the Skull & Keys, has no building, and is arguably the least secret of the secret societies. They openly chalk and pull small pranks around campus.

Bell and Scroll (I think):
Not technically a secret society, but membership is closed and they have, uhm, secrets, I guess? These are the South College bell ringers.

Other:
[this section ripped verbatim from Joe John’s post on Wesblog09]

Here is a list of other Greek organizations on campus and anything I may know about them as well. They are mostly responsible for planning social events and community service on campus and in the Middletown community. Several of them are arms of alumni chapters, and therefore, their charters are not on campus.

• Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Historically Black Sorority
• Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Historically Black Fraternity
• Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Historically Black Sorority
• Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Historically Black Fraternity
• Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority
• La Unidad Latina LUL Fraternity, Inc., Latino Fraternity
• Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc., Latina Sorority
• Lambda Psi Delta Sorority, Inc., Multi-Cultural Sorority
• Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Historically Black Sorority