Why would this son of Wesleyan University, Class of 1975, join in an on-going argument with his alma mater on the cusp of his fortieth reunion? Because leaders who practice distortion, discrimination and deception need to be called out on it. Based on their attacks on the school’s 147 year old Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (and, by extension, my DKE brothers and me), Wesleyan’s current leaders are guilty of those offenses.

First, some background: in the name of creating “a more inclusive, equitable and safer campus” Wesleyan’s President, Michael Roth ’78, and its board chair, Joshua Boger ’73, advised the University committee in September 2014 that within the next three years residential fraternities must become fully co-educational.

What happened next is a point of disagreement between DKEs and Wesleyan leaders. The University’s perspective was stated by Michael Whaley, vice president for student affairs in a February 25, 2015 Wesleyan newsletter article entitled “Update on Greek Life.”

The plan submitted by DKE, as well as subsequent communication from the organization, did not include a timeline or detail for its proposed approach to partner with a sorority to achieve co-education; nor did it adequately assure the university that female residents would have full and equal access to common areas of the house. The fraternity repeatedly failed to take meaningful steps or make reasonable commitments toward residential co-education; indeed representatives of the fraternity consistently rejected the goal of co-education.

However, none of this is true, and DKE has the paper trail to prove it in court.

The truth is that DKE has made repeated and significant offers to co-educate the DKE House as a residential facility with a nationally-recognized sorority and measurable benchmarks, and it remains committed to making that happen. But Wesleyan’s leadership has negotiated in bad faith, and each time we met their demands – all their demands – they moved the goal posts.

That leads us directly to the matter of discrimination. Wesleyan prides itself on offering student housing that honors diversity and equity. If a student seeks a single-sex or a coed floor, the University has an option. And it doesn’t stop there: Wesleyan offers additional options based on religion, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and even sexual practices (some of which were news to me.)

So how does a group of incredibly diverse guys who enjoy sports, the fellowship of good times, and respite from the University’s not infrequent bouts of intellectual mayhem (interests they would absolutely freely share with similarly inclined Wesleyan women) fit in? If they want to live together under the same roof, that’s not allowed if that roof happens to belong to a fraternity. The University, acting in the spirit of political correctness run amuck, knows best.

Sorry, but given the absence of some compelling considerations that require the DKE housing option to be treated differently from all those other characteristics-driven housing options, it sounds like discrimination to me.

In the meantime, the same University leaders have sat silent while a handful of campus zealots, recklessly chanting allegations from the sidelines, assert DKE brothers are elitist and entitled oligarchs looking to oppress others. Nothing could be farther from the truth: the DKE brother from a privileged background is the exception, vastly outnumbered by young men from ordinary means. To the extent that the majority achieve success and are of service to others, it is due to hard work and, in part, their Wesleyan educations.

So what is really going on? Speaking for myself, I see Wesleyan’s leaders playing two games. For them to pretend otherwise is flat out deception. The first game is “WesU Monopoly.” The second is “Self-Promotion”.

Let’s begin with WesU Monopoly – Wesleyan is a business, with expenses and overhead. Buildings and services are two parts of the overhead and that includes dormitories and food services. Every student who sleeps in non-University housing (for example, a fraternity), represents lost revenue. Every student who eats in a private dining club (again, a fraternity), gives rise to another pile of cash lost to Wesleyan.

So what is Wesleyan’s corporate chieftain, Michael Roth, up to? Having successfully begun to suppress dining clubs, he has now moved on to the next target – independent housing like DKE’s. His goal is to squeeze every residential dollar out of the thirty-two students who might live there, diverting that cash instead to the company’s coffers. It’s simple: the University will brook no competition because the University wants it all.

Then there is Self-Promotion – I’ve spent a lot of my professional life swimming in political waters. I quickly recognize someone who is on the move. First comes the book and then the flogging of one snappy, attention-catching extraneous “issue” or another, which often involves finger pointing and accusation.

Congratulations, Mr. President, on the publication of your book, ‘Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters’ and the following it is gaining you with the Washington Post, the New York Times and in numerous other venues. It was followed by your assault on what you have allowed some to characterize as the rape culture of DKE (Reader, please note: the assertion is false.) Tell me, Michael, which colleges and universities have made the short list of those where you intend to seek your next presidency?

It’s time for Wesleyan’s leaders to stop this madness. The University must return to its historic legacy as a protector of honesty, integrity and diversity. The distortion, discrimination and deception have got to go. I urge Wesleyan’s leaders either to accommodate DKE’s efforts to continue as an important member of campus life or to step aside for others who will.

  • JG

    Great post. Its refreshing to hear unvarnished straight talk.

    • boobz

      JOSH GROBAN, IS THAT YOU?!!?!?!?!!?

  • k.d. lang’s mangina

    You stripped the issue of all its glam and glitz and intellectual baggage, and put it out there straight and naked, as it is. Thank you for doing that. So often an issue gets clouded by the misguided emotion and drama attached to it, and people forget to really look at the issue in its own right.

  • SkorpioG

    You’ve succinctly described the truth of the matter. This is nothing more than a land grab dressed up in insincere and condescending paeans to ideological notions. The gullible quickly fall for this, and like-minded peers beam.

    The University will most likely lose a court case. They will avoid at all costs having to take the stand and answer direct questions under oath. The smoke and mirror game of politics will evaporate quickly and the nakedness will be exposed if that were to come to pass. No one wants to be sitting on the witness stand and endure a grilling. Wesleyan will offer to settle out of court. Money isn’t the concern. Reputation of the school, and by direct extension, President Roth and his will, ambitions and desire for a better job, are at stake. Unless he finds a new job somewhere else, this case is going to trial.

    Prediction: Wesleyan and Roth won’t ever admit they are wrong. Arrogant people feel they don’t have to apologize for anything. That shows weakness. Instead, to avoid trial, they’ll offer some sort of compromise solution, some way to save face, in exchange for the lawsuit to be dropped. DKE should hold out for complete capitulation.

  • Connor Justice

    “Every student who eats in a private dining club (again, a fraternity), gives rise to another pile of cash lost to Wesleyan.”

    All dining clubs (e.g. Chique Chaque, S&C) must operate through Bon Apetit, Wesleyan’s dining hall operator. They provide none of the money for operation, but receive 5% of all revenue. No cash lost there.

    • Hi

      Hey Connor

    • Ra’s Al Ghul

      Which is bullshit because Bon Apetit has a monopoly on food on campus. Which is Un-American

  • ~annoyed~

    If students seek single gender living accommodations, there are single-sex halls in the Nics. Clearly this is not an issue of discriminating against students who want all-male residences, but an issue of ownership and monopoly of space. DKE has done nothing to deserve this space or the social capital that comes with owning this space other than exist for 147 years. I just don’t understand why y’all can’t live like the rest of us.

    • I want, give me

      That’s what DKE is trying to do. Live like the rest of Wesleyan. But it sounds like what you’re saying is who cares about ownership, we want your space, give it to us.

  • Rob Buccino ’77

    It hardly seems likely that any revenue gained by converting frat houses to University housing could offset the future dropoff in donations likely to ensue from outraged DKE alumni (many of whom reflect a different, and more privileged, socioeconomic class than it seems the current brothers may come from.) And if taking the risk of offending vocal and economically powerful interests in pursuit of a kinder and more inclusive campus results in Roth’s ascendency to bigger and better things, that would seem to be the voice of the population speaking, wouldn’t it? DKE in my day was not distinguished by its friendliness (to outsiders), caring treatment of pledges, support of higher learning, moderation in use of intoxicating substances, or embrace of feminists or LBGT people (not to mention people referred to in the day as ‘squids’), notwithstanding its occasional acts of charity and generosity toward the Middletown community. It seems to me no coincidence that the phrase ‘frat boy’ generally connotes values and behavior antithetical to the liberal ideals ostensibly embraced by Wesleyan, whether DKE brothers deserve that label or not. It certainly seemed that way back in ancient history when I attended. What’s at issue here is, I believe, a culture war: battle between those who would divide college students along fault lines of traditions that emphasize a fairly narrow and increasingly atavistic definition of masculinity (athletics, beer, anti-intellectualism, objectification of women included) versus those who would use the University as an opportunity to teach and learn how we can better live with kindness, compassion, and empathy in an increasingly complex and diverse world.

    • SkorpioG

      The culture war comes down to this: a choice. Are college students treated like the adults they are, free to make up their own minds as they see fit? Or, are they really just helpless children who need protection and direction from all-knowing adults?

      If you believe in the former, then DKE or anyone else, should be left alone to do what they want. If they convince fellow students to join them, so be it. If they fail, or no one is interested in joining them, then that’s how the cookie crumbles. The students themselves, through action, will decided how things play out.

      If you believe in the latter, then President Roth and other like-minded people will become missionaries to many other campuses, spreading their vision, outlook, and philosophy. Students will be controlled. Decisions will be made for them. Those who don’t think the correct and officially-approved way won’t be welcome. Dissent will not be tolerated.

      Which environment do you want your own children to enter?

  • Rho Ep?

    I laughed when I read “nationally-recognized sorority” and then I stopped reading. Obviously this person has no idea what they’re talking about.