“I mean, I studied abroad in Athens. Is that what you mean by Greek Life?”
This is part of our 2016 Unofficial Orientation Series. A quick reminder that you can check out the welcome post here and past years’ series here.
This one is gonna be fun to write. If you’re reading this, odds are you’re internally pondering one or more of the following three questions: (1) Wait, I thought Wes didn’t have Greek Life like all the other small liberal arts colleges?, (2) Is wilk about to tell me that the frats are back??? Keg! Keg! Keg! Keg! Seven! Seven! Seven! Seven!, or (3) I thought Greece left the EU?
In short, here are the answers:
Credit for this photo goes to Karmenife Paulino and Tess Altman at Reclamation.
Note: This interview discusses sexual assault. It was also conducted prior to Winter Break and doesn’t reflect certain changes on campus since then.
I knock at some small senior house right off of Cross street, and a muffled cry of, “Be right there,” can be heard from behind its chipping red door. The door opens, and this is the first and last time that I ever meet Karmenife Paulino ’15 – I follow curly, auburn hair up the narrow staircase as we say our hello’s and I am taken to her room. Her room is cozy and dim, with colored lights strung up on the left wall next to artwork and posters. My eyes graze over the mid-packing mess that I’ve interrupted, led to a mannequin in bondage gear leaning on the right wall.
She sits on her bed, crosslegged and comfortable, her body turned at an angle from mine, as I take a seat on the bottom most edge and gracelessly stumble through introductions. She’s patient as I rummage through my bag for my questions, and we begin.
What exactly is Reclamation?
Following the University’s placement of the Xi Chapter of Psi Upsilon on probationary housing status for the rest of 2015, as well as banning all social activities at the fraternity, and Psi U’s Wespeak in January announcing their plan for coeducation, the fraternity’s program housing status has been suspended for the entire 2015-2016 academic year, according to an all campus email sent this afternoon by President Roth and Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Whaley. In addition, the property has been deemed off limits to Wesleyan students for the duration of the suspension, similar to the sanctions placed on Beta Theta Pi last fall.
Psi U was the only remaining single-sex frat on campus whose national chapter allowed co-education, and the fraternity concluded its first co-ed rush at the end of the school year, with plans to fully co-educate by the three year timeline President Roth set in September. We will update with more info as it comes in.
In a Wespeak published in the Argus today, the Xi Chapter of Psi Upsilon announced its plans to hold its first co-ed rush on February 7th. It’s the first residential frat on campus to become co-ed after the Board of Trustees and President Roth announced in September that all residential frats must become fully-coed in the next three years. This decision was alongside other hard stances the administration took on fraternities last semester, including suspending Psi U from all social activities this year, prohibiting freshmen from pledging, and making Beta off limits to students. Psi U is the only single-sex frat on campus whose national chapter allows co-education, which allows them to make this move more easily than DKE or Beta.
We’ll update with more info as it comes in, but the real question here is, will you rush?
Here’s the full Wespeak:
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.
From Willie Molski ’17:
Psi U and SHOFCO are proud to host the hottest benefit concert of the year. The lineup features a smooth, melodic DJ set by JDV+, and the feel-good jazz band Don Froot. The concert will end with all-sophomore hiphop-funk-jazz fusion band Chef, who are playing their first show since The Mash.
Concert begins at 10pm. Tickets for the event will be sold in Usdan during lunch and dinner for $1 and at the door for $2. All proceeds go towards SHOFCO. Come enjoy some central heating and warm jams!
Date: Friday, November 21
Place: Psi U
Cost: $1 at Usdan, $2 at door
It ain’t much, but it’s something! Image c/o Wesleyan University
So, it snowed for the first time last night. I’m assuming this means that winter has started, which is a little scary, but the events of this weekend are making it easier to process. There are many awesome things going on, including cultural shows, dancing shows and performing bands.
Here’s a roundup of some of the things happening:
From Nick Selden:
Hey do you like fun?? What about music?? If you answered yes to either of the above questions you should come to Schwab/Sleep Kid/SlimCharles at Psi U this Friday.
Slim Charles: Alumni Indie Rock
Sleepkid: Post-Trap Popwave
Date: Friday, November 14th
Place: Psi U
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.”
In an email sent to the Wesleyan community this morning, the Chair of the Board of Trustees Joshua Boger ’73 and President Michael Roth ’78 informed the campus of the Board’s decision that all residential greek organizations must become fully co-educational in not just housing but within the greek organizations themselves.
The Board of Trustees convened in their retreat this past weekend, with more than half of the schedule dedicated to the issue of greek life on campus as well as the future of residential fraternities. This comes on the heel of the administration’s decision to declare Beta’s house off-limits to all students just a few weeks ago, in light of the discussions last semester within and outside of meetings in the Wesleyan Student Assembly over the issue of coeducation and residential fraternities.
Update (9/22/14 5:00PM): We asked DKE president Terence Durkin ’16 if the coeducation decision would affect their national membership and how they might implement coeducation. His response:
It is my understanding that our National Charter does not allow co-education, so this unilateral decision by the administration is problematic for us. It seems to do away with freedom of association for a specific, carefully chosen segment of the so-called Wesleyan “community”. The University is telling us who our friends are going to be, and who we must choose as our leaders. This is just not right. This is just not Wesleyan. We are exploring all options with our Alumni and undergraduates, and we will have more to say in the near future.
Dean Mike Whaley similarly reiterated that the national charter of DKE (and Beta) does not recognize coeducation, while Psi U’s does. He also pointed out that Alpha Delta Phi had a similar conflict with their national charter when they decided to co-educate in 1972. His response below:
I’ve not yet had a chance to work with any of the organizations yet given that the announcement was just made today. As President Roth’s announcement indicates, “If the organizations are to continue to be recognized as offering housing and social spaces for Wesleyan students, women as well as men must be full members and well-represented in the body and leadership of the organization.” We’ve invited each of the all-male fraternities to develop their own plans for realizing this goal, and I will be working with them as they develop and implement their plans to make sure they are likely to reach our objectives.
Psi U, whose national permits coeducation, has asked to meet with me later this week to begin discussions and planning.
You probably already know that Psi Upsilon’s national permits coeducation, while Beta’s and DKE’s do not. My understanding is that Alpha Delta Phi had a similar challenge with their national when they co-educated many years ago – how they overcame that obstacle could be instructive for the organizations.