Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) alumni and undergraduate fraternity brothers organized various demonstrations during Homecoming this past weekend to counter the University’s new coeducation policy, including hanging pro-fraternity banners and distributing fliers around campus.
Various DKE undergraduates and alumni have expressed disappointment at the new requirement that all residential fraternities become coeducational. After sending letters to the administration expressing disapproval, a group of alumni joined forces and created a flier titled “Frats Not Fiction.”
“The recent decision to require women to become full members of Wesleyan’s fraternities, which is strenuously opposed by generations of supportive alumni, active volunteers, donors and committed trustees, is based on numerous false premises,” the flier reads.
Following that statement, a variety of “facts” are provided, such as the idea that a fraternity is at least as safe as a dorm, that the University will lose social space if the fraternities have to close, and that eliminating fraternities would diminish diversity on campus.
“This weekend we started by having our alumni get together and create a list, ‘Frats Not Fiction,’” said President of DKE Terence Durkin ’16. “It was kind of corny, but it had facts. It laid out the facts to inform the general public, the undergrads, and others at the school—especially on alumni weekend—of the fact that fraternities are not more prone to sexual assault statistically.”
Furthermore, there were two large banners tacked onto the front of the DKE residential house. These banners bore the spray-painted phrases “Facts Not Fiction” and “276 High Street: DKE Owned/Operated For 147 Years…And Counting.”
In addition to the signs and fliers, a small plane flew over the football field during the simultaneous football and soccer games, carrying a banner that read “Wes Picks Our Bros? Fascism. Look it up.”
“It seems clear that some DKE students and alumni are unhappy with the decision [to become coeducational],” wrote Vice President of Student Affairs Michael Whaley in an email to The Argus. “I note that their editorial claims that they are unable to coeducate because DKE national does not permit this. While understanding the difficulty and resistance with making changes in a long-standing organization, Alpha Delt provides a Wesleyan-specific example of making this kind of change as their national also forbade coeducation when our chapter decided to move in that direction.”
Durkin explained that he feels that by enforcing coeducational policy, the University is disregarding key problems that should be addressed on campus.
“The first problem that we talked about last spring was sexual assault, and then also binge drinking,” Durkin said. “Those definitely are real problems on campus, and unfortunately those problems kind of got pushed aside. Now it’s turned into a gender equality and social space issue. We don’t think that coeducation will solve the binge drinking or sexual assault problem.”
He spoke about the various seminars that alumni from DKE, Beta Theta Pi (Beta) and Psi Upsilon (Psi U) organized this year as a step toward combating these issues.
“[DKE, Psi U, and Beta alums] had organized a binge drinking seminar [in September] and a sexual assault prevention seminar a few weeks ago,” Durkin said. “We have been holding these seminars to help prevent binge drinking and sexual assault and real problems, so it’s just frustrating when these efforts are being made and administration comes after us and tries to eliminate us altogether.”
University President Michael Roth reflected on last weekend’s activist movements.
“I’m hopeful that now that the DKE brothers have expressed themselves that we can work together to make coeducation a reality,” Roth said. “I think they’re still trying to figure out their own views on the subject. They have another month or so, and I’m hopeful that they can see the benefits of a coeducational environment that still provides autonomy and community but doesn’t discriminate against women.”
As for future plans, the brothers and alumni are unsure of their next action.
“We’re just hopeful to just get the information and the facts out there and hope that people support our cause in this decision,” Durkin said. “At this point, it’s kind of tough to have a dialogue [with the administration] when we’re in such disagreement. So it’s been a limited conversation, but we’re hoping that going forward we can have some sort of compromise.”
Whaley said that he hopes to see DKE successfully become coeducational.
“I [am] hopeful that DKE can learn from their playbook and move forward in a more inclusive fashion,” Whaley wrote. “Alpha Delt alumni have offered to be a resource in this regard.”
Durkin said that with the provided three-year time frame, the brothers and administrators still have time to reach a compromise.
“We’ll see if any conversation leads to any changes in that decision,” Durkin said. “As of now, we are just playing the waiting game and hoping we can garner support with alumni and undergrads and all around, and hopefully we can change the administration’s decision.”