MIDDLETOWN, Conn., Feb. 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Undergraduates and alumni of Wesleyan's Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity filed suit against the University in Middletown Court for discrimination, misrepresentation and deceptive practices centering around the University's mandate that the residential fraternity house be "fully coeducated" and, after DKE's good faith efforts to achieve a workable solution, the unreasonably abrupt notice it gave depriving DKE students of their choice of on-campus housing for the 2015-16 school year. Wesleyan's alumni chapter, the Kent Literary Club (KLC), and DKE students are plaintiffs in the suit seeking a temporary injunction to stop the University from denying its rights and restore DKE student housing next year.
"Discrimination is abhorrent in whatever form it may exist," said Scott Karsten, spokesperson for the KLC. "President Roth's pursuit of selective discrimination is an egregious example of political correctness gone wrong, and does a disservice to the high ideals upon which Wesleyan was founded. Not only does President Roth's personal agenda fail to promote real diversity, it punishes the students he is supposed to protect. The current members and alumni of the DKE chapter at Wesleyan stand united against this blatant hypocrisy, and trust that justice will prevail."
At issue in the suit is Wesleyan University's on-campus housing provision that "gives students the opportunity to live collectively in a house or hall, fraternity or society, based on shared hobbies, experiences, cultural interests and identities," including a single-sex housing option "for students who feel it is important to live on a floor with all female or male residents." However, the University broke this promise when, on September 21, 2014, it informed KLC and DKE for the first time that "residential fraternities must become fully coeducational (since Wesleyan is already a coeducational institution, their intent is cohabitation of the fraternity houses) over the next three years" and that residential fraternities would only be "recognized as offering housing and social spaces for Wesleyan students" if "women as well as men" were "full members and well represented in the body and leadership of the organization."
The suit chronicles the many ways in which DKE and KLC acted in good faith to comply with the University's mandate, including conducting a tour of its facility with Administration representatives to identify the structural improvements required to make such a change, engaging in discussions with a potential partner about a shared housing arrangement and submitting a draft plan. Nevertheless, instead of the three year's time promised, the University fast-tracked its decision to deny DKE housing rights less than five months after its initial demand, and two days before the University's housing selection process began. As a result, the student members of DKE fraternity have inexplicably and without reasonable notice been stripped of their rights to on-campus housing and the fraternity denied the annual rental income it is entitled to as owner of the property.
University's Actions Favor "Right Kind" of Diversity in Housing Options
Wesleyan requires all of its undergraduates to live on campus all four years, considering this "an essential part of the liberal arts education" the school provides its students. According to the suit, the University's "refus[al] to permit male fraternity brothers to reside in single-sex housing" flies in the face of "the University's willingness to allow many other diverse groups to reside by choice with members of the same sex, ethnicity, national origin, religion, culture, sexual orientation, sexual identification and the like."
For example, Wesleyan undergrads can opt to live in single sex housing in its residence halls, and upperclassmen are eligible to live within one of 31 Program Housing residences that "gives students the opportunity to live collectively in a house or hall, fraternity or society, based on shared hobbies, experiences, cultural interests and identities." The diversity of self-selecting housing options includes the "Women of Color House" for "all who are committed to women of color on campus", the "Open House," described as a "safe space for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Flexural, Asexual, Genderfuck, Polyamorous, Bondage/Disciple, Dominance/ Submission, Sadism/Masochism (LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM) communities", the "Turath House" which "provides a space for Arab, Middle Eastern and Muslim students to articulate their views and affirm their culture and religion without fear of harassment and discrimination" and the "Light House" that provides an "open-minded Christian presence on campus."
Despite Wesleyan's willingness to embrace every other person's right to choose with whom to live based on gender, sexual preference, religion or ideology, on December 14, 2014, President Roth stated his ultimate goal that "there won't be any single sex residential Greek organizations [on campus] in five years".
Karsten concluded, "As loyal alumni and undergraduates of Wesleyan, an institution we love and cherish, we are saddened by the intolerance and small-mindedness that has taken over the University's administration that compels it to stamp out real diversity on campus in the name of political correctness. Long after the current administration is gone, we will still be loyal alumni, and in the meantime we will do everything we can to make sure the administration does not tarnish the values and traditions that have made Wesleyan great."
SOURCE Wesleyan DKE