Well, President Michael Roth finally seems to have gotten his way. He has now found pretexts for closing all three Wesleyan fraternity houses and it’s hard not to draw the obvious conclusion: that his whole anti-fraternity campaign over the last year has been a cover for a longer-term plan to seize the fraternities’ real estate by any means necessary, starting with financial strangulation.
To those who think this conclusion is going too far, consider this: all three fraternities have been shut down for reasons that are unrelated to the behavior of any fraternity member. Let’s look at the record:
Contrast the treatment of Psi U versus that of the Eclectic House, which remains unpunished despite hosting a party that sent more than a dozen students to the hospital for overdoses of Molly. Or consider that established fact the vast majority of drug use, binge drinking, sexual assaults and other risky behaviors occur in the dorms and other non-fraternity social houses – not in the fraternities that have been the subject of so much hysteria these past few years. Yet strangely, it’s only been fraternities that own their houses that have been punished.
The reason for the harsher treatment of fraternities is clear: Wesleyan wants to acquire our privately owned Greek property, which includes some of the campus’s prime real estate. This is not idle speculation. As President Roth wrote to Board Chairman Joshua Boger on August 20, 2014 – in an email that surfaced during DKE’s litigation against the University – “If we don’t close the houses with the hopes of acquiring them, then we shouldn’t go down this road at all.”
Drumming up excuses to close the houses is the first step in acquiring the property. Banning members from their own houses creates financial pressures on the fraternities because they rely on student rent to pay upkeep and operating expenses.
Speaking for DKE, though, there’s one flaw in the Roth and Boger strategy. DKE will never sell the property to them. But more important, we also have faith that the broader Wesleyan community will not stand by while the administration uses underhanded tactics to seize our property. Whatever they might think individually about fraternities as an institution, we are confident that the people of Wesleyan have a sense of basic fairness and that they will be disgusted at the disingenuous way that Roth and Boger have said one thing in public and something completely different in their secret emails.
Jeff Gray is a member of the Class of 1977.