This afternoon, the Argus broke the story that the Wesleyan chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon is planning to sue the university for discrimination and deceptive practices. The suit, brought by DKE in collaboration with their alumni chapter, the Kent Literary Club, and two Wes sophomores, details DKE’s interactions with the university since the co-education decision of last September before making charges associated with DKE’s recent loss of program house status for the 2015-2016 school year. After the jump are excerpts from DKE’s press release, courtesy of the Argus; statements from a Wesleyan spokesperson, and a brief summary of the lawsuit.
Trigger warning: This post discusses sexual assault and harassment. Below is a direct response to the recent Buzzfeed article on the current lawsuit against Wesleyan University.
I’m Melanie. At least, that’s what “Kevin” called me on Buzzfeed. In his lawsuit against the University, I’m simply Jane Doe. Jane Doe #1, to be precise, one of three who came forward against him.
I could have told this story before—when it first happened, or when I reported Kevin, or when I first heard that he was starting a lawsuit. But it wasn’t a story I wanted to tell—I didn’t even want to report what he did. What he did to me was shameful, and felt like a reflection on me. But now, he has told his version of the story—his victim-blaming story, in which he did no wrong, but was instead the target of a secret conspiracy. I can’t speak for the other women who reported him, though he lied about them, too. I speak only for myself.
On Buzzfeed, Kevin writes off what he did as drunk texting. He notes that when he texted me that night after midnight, drunk out of his mind and trying to hook up, he called me “babe” and “slut.” He says that, afterwards, I told him “we can definitely put it behind us.” Those things are true, but they’re not the whole story.
Earlier today, Buzzfeed writer Katie J.M. Baker posted an article about how students found guilty of sexual assault by their universities are hurt by the judicial system too. The article features an unnamed male Wesleyan student now suing the college under Title IX. According to the lawsuit, which can be read in full here, the student is suing:
…due to the actions, omissions, errors, and the flawed procedures, and/or negligence and overall failure to provide Plaintiff with an expected standard of due process, concerning the wrongful allegations of sexual misconduct made against John Doe, a male, graduating senior student at Defendant Wesleyan in good standing, and a respected member of the Wesleyan Student Assembly and a fraternity brother, with an otherwise unblemished record.
The article also makes it clear that the unidentified male student is not suing the women who accused him of sexual harassment and assault, but rather suing the university itself for a poorly conducted hearing and lack of due process.
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.
Read on for several community responses, including from Students for Consent and Communication and from President Roth.
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:
“No Wesleyan student should feel unsafe on campus.”
If you’ve glanced at Wesleying in the past week or so, then you’re already familiar with the federal lawsuit that refers to Beta as a ‘Rape Factory’ and accuses the University of failing to protect students from sexual assault and rape. (Since last weekend, the case has received national media coverage.) Vincent Vecchione ’07 and Holly Wood ’08 (yes, that Holly) have responded with an online petition calling on the Board of Trustees to require that ResLife analyze all other instances of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape and assess how well the office responded. According to Vecchione, every signature on the petition sends an email to the Board. The full text appears below.
In light of the recent allegations of the administration’s horrifying mistreatment and cruelty toward a rape victim in 2010, it is crucial that Wesleyan University analyze all other recorded charges of sexual crimes reported to the Offices of Residential Life and Public Safety. The best way to do this is for the Office of Residential Life to analyze every prior notice of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape, then review how the Office responded, and whether this response was effective. Special attention should be paid to cases of representatives of the administration “gaslighting” or otherwise diminishing the criminality of harassment, assault and rape to undergraduates.
If you have no idea what I’m referring to then you might want to read this first. Or this. Or this, or this, or this. Also this. And maybe this, too.
Anyway, the point: this story has been getting a good deal of news coverage, all the way from Wesleying and The Argus, to the Hartford Courant, to HuffPost, Salon, and more. In addition to this post on the coverage, keep an eye out for a more substantive post from pyrotechnics this weekend. Round-up with brief sketches of coverage below:
BuzzFeed is the first source to challenge some of the contentions of the lawsuit, in particular the campus identity of Beta Theta Pi as a “Rape Factory.” BuzzFeed contacted several current and former students, including our very own Zach, to inquire after the use of this particular term around campus. Some commenters on our earlier piece questioned its use, as did many quoted in the BuzzFeed article, but most do note a stigma around Beta that isn’t exactly positive. All in all, BuzzFeed seems to have done some proper research before writing, taking the time to discuss Beta’s historical image, Beta’s relationship with the University, and some of the confusion surrounding events of the 2010-2011 academic year.