Wesleyan University Forces Fraternities To Become Co-Ed Amid Sexual Assault Concerns

Wesleyan University has a somewhat puzzling solution to sexual assault concerns at campus fraternity houses. The university announced a new policy in September of 2014 that would require all fraternities to become co-ed within three years. However, the Wesleyan chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon is fighting back with a lawsuit. The fraternity is suing the school for discrimination after being forced to accept women into the organization while women-only organizations are left untouched.

CBS Connecticut reports that the move to require campus fraternities to become co-ed stems from some highly publicized issues within the all-male organizations including sexual assault allegations. Delta Kappa Epsilon says they filed the lawsuit to seek a temporary injunction by the Superior Court after the university said students would not be given the option of housing at on-campus single-sex fraternities during the 2015-16 school year.

“Wesleyan DKE members and alumni stand united against discrimination in any form, seek injunction to restore student housing and prevent unwarranted abuse of power.”

It isn’t just the current DKE members who are fighting the university on the issue. The DKE alumni association, referred to as the Kent Literary Club (KLC), is also backing current DKE members saying, “discrimination is abhorrent in whatever form it may exist.” The fraternity says that the university’s actions are “political correctness gone wrong” and that the fraternity went above and beyond to come to an agreement with the university. The fraternity members say that they were lied to and deceived when the co-ed mandate was fast tracked.

“It was with great regret that we made the decision that, in light of the administration’s surprising and frankly deceitful actions over the last several months, we owed it to a very courageous and devoted group of DKE undergrads to take this action. 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.”

The Delta Kappa Epsilon alumni spokesperson, Scott Karsten, ’74, says that DKE members provided a tour of their fraternity house to school officials to show all the changes that would need to be made in order to accommodate co-ed housing. DKE then began working toward the school’s demands to become co-ed last year after the announcement. They had developed a plan that would allow a female organization, such as a sorority, to offer residency within the fraternity’s house in order to meet the mandate.

However, despite their efforts, DKE alumni say that the university denied DKE housing rights for the 2015-2016 school year. The Daily Mail reports that “the lawsuit cites several examples of undergraduate Program Houses that Wesleyan sponsors on campus, including the Light House, for Christian students, and the Women of Color House.”

The fraternity members claim that Wesleyan’s refusal to allow fraternities same-sex housing options is discriminatory against one particular sub-set of individuals, those in the Greek community. The university has a “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,” but is choosing to exclude one group, fraternity houses, from this choice.

Many commenting online about Wesleyan University’s move to force fraternities to become co-ed after sexual assault allegations think the whole idea is somewhat puzzling.

“With accusations of sexual assault, they want to put women closer to the frat boys….makes perfect sense…”

What do you think of Wesleyan University’s mandate that fraternity houses must become co-ed? Do fraternities have the right to all-male housing options since other groups have housing based on gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity?