Dear Editor,

I sent the following email to President Roth, the board chair, and the development office.  It stands for the proposition that actions have consequences, and I am writing to share it with the entire Wesleyan community.  Here is what I wrote:

Your letter seeking a contribution to the Wesleyan Fund has been sitting on my desk since May – I have held it deliberately, awaiting a ruling on the fraternity issue.  Your decision mandating coeducation has made my decision on your donation request easy: I just fed it to the shredder.

I have not been a large donor to Wesleyan since my 1975 graduation – that is because I have spent the lion’s share of my career in the public sector, where financial reward was short but job satisfaction was substantial. But that has changed, and I’m pleased that my still-new private sector career as a law firm partner is going quite well.

And now that I can afford to give – indeed, even contemplate including Wesleyan in my estate planning – you have collectively taken an ill-considered and intellectually bankrupt action that I find reprehensible.  In the past, I have always defended WesU when others have charged it with possessing a “fascism-from-the-left” mentality; what really stings now is that, this time, those charges are true.

You see, neither I nor my multi-generational band of Wesleyan DKE brothers are rapists. Indeed, with alumni support, Wesleyan DKEs have actually launched substantive problem-solving programs to promote responsible behaviors.  They have hit the target; sadly, you have missed it, and missed it by a country mile.  Until this decision is reversed, the only financial support I will be sending to a Middletown address won’t be going to Wesleyan; it will be going to the DKE House.

Bruce Tobey  is a member of the class of 1975.

  • Female Alum ’14

    Incredible how you completely fail to address the administration’s reasoning behind the decision, or the student voices that called for action to be taken against fraternities. Since you’re a member of the class of 1975, you’re likely out of touch with the current social climate on campus — and you also appear to be profoundly ill informed about the nature of certain groups’ critiques of fraternity culture.

    The insinuation has not been made by the administration that being a member of an all-male fraternity necessarily makes someone a rapist. However, allowing a select few groups (all of which deny membership to non-male students) to control the largest social gathering spaces on campus creates an unhealthy power dynamic —one that creates an environment that’s far more likely to produce cases of sexual assault than would one that acknowledges social equality among all genders.

    I encourage you to better educate yourself about the issue at hand, especially when it affects your decisions about how to allocate your recently acquired higher income. Despite your obvious persecution complex, the students most in need of support in the Wesleyan Community are NOT your fraternity brothers, and this decision by the administration should not be seen as an attack on them, but as an attempt to create a more equal space for all members of the community. If you were at all aware of what the recent discussion on campus has been like, you might know that women and queer-identified individuals have been made to feel especially vulnerable in certain spaces on campus for a number of reasons, and I see this decision as an important step in alleviating the *actual* oppression of marginalized groups that still exists at Wesleyan.

    Based on the focus of your letter, you appear to be far more concerned with the state of fraternities on campus than you are with the current situation regarding the prevalence of sexual assault. If this does indeed reflect your personal priorities, I for one would be perfectly fine with you taking your “private sector” money elsewhere and removing yourself entirely from the Wesleyan community.

    • Bruce Tobey ’75

      To Female Alum ’14:

      While I appreciate your passion, I urge you to consider both fact as well as your strong feelings. And here is the key fact – DKE is laser focused on addressing the sexual assault and alcohol abuse issues. We believe, on the other hand that the Roth administration is not. Its misguided position appears to be that this isn’t about sexual assault prevention, but that it’s about equity and inclusion.

      Current student opinion, as reflected on President Roth’s Blog? Many Wesleyan students, both men and women, support the continued existence of single sex fraternities. “Reclaiming Wesleyan”, a student group organized to explore solutions to combat sexual violence, recognizes that the issues are complex and not subject to resolution by a “for or against fraternities” polarization.

      “Women (and Allies) for Greek Life and Single Sex Greek Housing” is another such student organization with 466 members and growing. Moreover, I understand that a Petition to Reform and Regulate Greek Life at Wesleyan University exists on-line to preserve all male fraternities.

      And here are some governance facts: Resolution B, calling for the University to ban fraternities as “rape culture”, only passed by a 14-12 WSA vote on Easter Sunday, but it was referenced and supported in President Roth’s Blog. Resolution D, however, which passed at a later date by a 27-1 WSA vote, outlines numerous recommendations to reform and regulate fraternities, but does not mandate co-education, and it has received no mention.

      And insofar as the focus on sexual assault and binge drinking is concerned, DKE has initiated the presentation and implementation of two nationally acclaimed programs which are financially underwritten by DKE, Psi Upsilon and Beta. Safe & Sober is a program that was presented by Dr. Stephen M. Taylor
      (M.D., M.P.H., founder, author, trainer and presenter of The Safe and Sober Campus Initiative) to approximately 400 students in three sessions on September 13th and 14th. Dr. Taylor’s program covered issues of alcohol abuse, binge drinking and sexual assault. Based upon survey results from the 174 students who completed, them the program was a rousing success.

      “One in Four” is a renowned national organization dedicated to the prevention of sexual assault and rape with the aim to increase the likelihood of bystander intervention. It challenges men to change their own behaviors and influence the behaviors of others. The program presentation and workshops will be administered by nationally recognized expert Dr. John Foubert, the founder of” One in Four”. Dr. Foubert is well known and respected for his research in the area of sexual assault prevention, and he is
      the author of seven books on the subject. He will be making the programs available for the benefit of both the men’s fraternities and the Rho Epsilon Pi sorority.

      Those, my anonymous correspondent, are the facts. I understand that they are inconvenient and get in the way of your and the administration’s feelings and the discriminatory world-view they reflect, but when it’s about something as profound as lopping off a significant part of the Wesleyan Community, I would
      hope facts matter. That is especially true if you believe, as I do, that Wesleyan’s strength lies in its being a tapestry of many diverse parts. That tapestry has long included Greek life and single sex fraternities as an integral thread, and it will be irreparably harmed if that part is cavalierly tossed aside.

      Finally, I’ll share a few facts about me with you. I am the father of four daughters, each of whom their mom and I have raised to be strong and independent, characteristics they have amply displayed as they have acquired their own undergraduate degrees and built their own careers. I am proud to have been one of their mentors, just as I am proud that one of them was the nationally-recognized leader of her
      own single sex fraternity at Tulane.

      And I am proud that, long before it was a political rage, I successfully demanded, during my long tenure as the Mayor and CEO of my City, that a national youth services organization drop its discriminatory policies
      against Queer youth if it expected my community to contribute to it through the regional United Way.

      In short, I have practiced the Wesleyan creed of equity in my own life. Do the same yourself, beginning by having the courage to post on internet comment boards with your real name. And then ask President Roth to do the same by having the integrity to change his mind and admit the error he has enabled.

      • L

        Ron, you are too old to really believe in equality and non discrimination. If you have been out of school for 40 years, involved in your community and the world, raising children who must cope with the contemporary world, you are so far away from the delicate and exquisite pains of the students of today to have anything worthwhile to add. You must better educate yourself to match the knowledge of Female Alum 14. Your outmoded 1970’s education, life experience, community service and devotion to family have taught you nothing. You are scum.

      • L

        Bruce not Ron. Oh well. I am even older and more obsolete than you. Only my wife and five daughters think I know anything about women.

      • Alumn 12

        Wow “you are scum”, your ad hominem attacks to a well researched and supported posts really undermine your intelligence and morals. Your post has zero evidence to refute the post you responded to and simply claims he is wrong because he is old. Could you be more ignorant? People like you are the scum – the people who mindlessly lash out at those that disagree with them rather than try to actually think openly about the issues at hand.

        “You are too old to believe in
        equality and non-discrimination”. That is such an ignorant and virulent assumption that I am embarrassed that someone who would write such a thing will be (I assume) receiving a Wesleyan degree. Try thinking outside feminist propaganda for once, it will do you good.

      • L

        You are reading far too literally, ’12.

    • Alumn 13

      You say he should “educate himself”, but his response has so much more substance than yours. This talk of having equal spaces doesn’t make sense. Why does the administration crack down on sororities then? Why are coed spaces like 200 church and alpha delt so rarely utilized? 200 church has more space than Betas house yet had a small fraction of the social impact, how do you explain this? Why is it necessary to outlaw male spaces just to allow for more coed ones? The whole campus is coed and sexual assault in campus is far more prevalent than in fraternities. I think it is you who needs some education, and real education not just reading and agreeing with Roths email.

    • P’14

      Female alum, As the mother of a WES grad, I would think President Roth’s actions would be insulting to you. Do you need a man and a male run institution to protect you by integrating your spaces? As fully functioning extremely intelligent women, smart enough to get into WES, you should be organizing yourself to integrate what you want into WES society, not have a man (the President do it for you). Don’t you see you are being used to further HIS agenda? How about demanding that the University provide the Sorority the best space available, so then women control the space. This intolerant Wesleyan is not why I sent my child there. I sent him to be more tolerant, more open to ideas, more liberal. Due to this intolerance I too will not be sending financial support to WES. I don’t support certain groups, some religions or lack thereof, various political parties, or even Fox News, but I don’t dispute their right to exist. In fact I support their right to exist and would fight to defend it. Does everyone have to believe what I do and if they don’t, should I ban them. Until President Roth’s recent actions I was not a supporter of Fraternities, therefore I didn’t go to them, but I don’t believe we should ban anything. Now President Roth has changed me into a Fraternity supporter.. Oh and my son I sent to WES, to become MORE liberal… President Roth sent me home a less liberal, less tolerant person… and he is unemployed too.. how about working on jobs for grads President Roth.

  • justthefacts

    An extremely tolerant, but misinformed, response by Female ’14. Your Wesleyan is not the only one. The fraternity members are also part of the Wesleyan Community, as are alumni. The elimination of the fraternities will result in the elimination of their social space, which heretofore has been frequently made available to the University at large, because it is privately owned and self supporting.

  • Lea Barth ’84

    As a female alum and a parent of a recent Wesleyan grad, I made a larger than usual donation to Wesleyan last week.

    • Alumn ’12

      Good because fraternity brothers and athletes (certainly a lot of overlap) have traditionally been the largest demographic of donors to Wesleyan. Wesleyan just lost the support of pretty much every fraternity Alumn so I hope others can make it up. Need blind has already been cut, plans to build new science facilities have also been cut…. We certainly don’t need any less money going into Wesleyan but as a fraternity brother Alumn, I too will never donate to Wesleyan. Wesleyan has effectively disowned me. It has made the claim that the Wesleyan community is not welcoming too fraternity brothers or really men in general and i cannot support that.

  • Philip Spencer

    Can the administration provide data showing a correlation (and, if so, a causal relationship) between the elimination of fraternities at peer institutions and a campus-wide reduction in sexual assault and/or binge drinking? If so, fraternity alums might be persuaded that this is the better course for Wesleyan. If not, the decision is an affront to the “critical thinking” Roth purports to support and an insult to a substantial percentage of alums.

    • Concerned Alum

      The new Clery data that the University published for 2013: 15 reported sexual assaults on campus. 13 in Residential Facility (Butterfield, Foss Hill, etc). 2 in all the Non-Campus Building or Property combined (the 3 all male fraternities are privately owned so don’t count in the university residential number). 15 too many, but the data clearly shows there is a much bigger problem in the Wesleyan coed dorms than there is in the residential male fraternities. So far, the administration has refused to break it down by dorm since it doesn’t support Roth’s action.