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:

  • DKE was suspended for not moving fast enough to coeducate its house, despite submitting plans that more than met the administration’s initial demands.
  • It closed down Beta Theta Pi last September,  all without a single charge of misconduct or violation of any University rule or regulation being cited, because a student who allegedly arrived at a party while impaired by drugs and alcohol tragically climbed out of and fell from a third floor window after her non-Beta friends left her alone.
  • Even Psi U, which jumped through all his hoops to coeducate the fraternity, found itself shuttered just weeks before classes started on unproven allegations of drug use against an unknown and presumably small number of students.

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.

  • Concerned Alum

    Jeff, Thank you for writing this. Now we know why Roth kept changing his public stance from sexual assault prevention to social space to gender equity all of which DKE addressed with facts and logic. It was never about any of that with him. It was all about his complete control of the real estate by any means.

  • justthefacts

    Is this what Wesleyan has become? Doesn’t anyone care about all of the current undergrads who were displaced? Just collateral damage for the secret plan of conquest.

    • Spin

      Yes, the idea is to establish a Wesleyan Caliphate across New England, and working with the mystical seven extend into Turkey, Syria and Iraq. The undergrads who refuse to treat women as equals are but the first unfortunate pawns in this cavil.

      • Concerned Alum

        Let’s see Psi U went coed and was shut down. Beta no longer exists and that property is in no way affiliated with any all male institution and yet they can’t rent out rooms and DKE offered to help pay for an all female residential sorority and the administration denied that. So who isn’t treating women as equals?

      • Spin

        Beta can rent out rooms, just not to students. DKE – separate but equal is not equal, and the brothers were obstructionist throughout. I’m not up on what really happened with Psi U, my impression is they got caught up in the backlash to drug-dealing and the admin had to take a hard line.

      • Concerned Alum

        So Spin, as part of the administration, you’re ok with Eclectic not being punished for their involvement in the drug backlash and you just didn’t like DKE’s attitude when trying to take their property.

        Separate but equal does work when there are physical differences between men and women such as athletics and forced cohabitation against their will.

      • Spin

        Your response is trolling. I’m not now, and never have been part of Wesleyan’s administration. The Eclectic property is owned by Wesleyan. Wesleyan is ultimately responsible for safety there. DKE had ample chance at working cooperatively with the Administration and refused. DKE fully understood the parameters, that coeducation is nonnegotiable, and deadlines for compliance. If DKE brothers can’t live with women as equals they should go to an all-male school, or perhaps stay home.

      • Concerned Alum

        If Wesleyan is ultimately responsible for safety then why the double standard? The charges are unproven and just allegations for Psi U and yet Eclectic has been shut down after multiple drug incidents at their house. DKE actually did follow the parameters Wesleyan set out except that Wesleyan kept changing the parameters so they were impossible to follow. DKE brothers can live with women as equals in the house and accepted that but given the physical structure of the house, significant capital needed to be invested. The university not only refused to help, but also said they could still shut down the house for any reason if the felt like it no matter how much money DKE invested. Read the transcripts from the hearing.

      • Spin

        No double standard. Wesleyan is ultimately responsible for student safety standards in Wesleyan owned property. They have the authority to act against students causing safety problems, and I expect they have or will. Wesleyan has less ability to act where students live in non-Wes housing. Where the housing is unsafe or the environment undermines the mission of the university, Wesleyan can prohibit students from living there. The email exchanges I saw reported appeared that the university acted fairly and with ample notice. I have not seen the hearing transcripts, perhaps those tell a different story. But the picture I saw made it seem that DKE never accepted the basic premise, and all the maneuvering was seen as a means to avoid the basic issue. Indeed, you’ve still challenged the basic premise in our discussion, so I doubt DKE made a legitimate good faith effort to overcome the inherent problems. More likely the guys who live there are like “DKE Bro” – ‘Motha fucka Roth, we’re gonna get you.’ You don’t need to be an intolerant buffoon to play sports, and conduct like that has no place in a university.

      • Concerned Alum

        Yes, the administration is responsible for safety which is why DKE fully complied with pSafe entering their private residence precisely because we understood the position that Roth was in. And how is it not a double standard on safety when DKE was threatened by being firebombed “burn the house down”, “throw a brick threw the window”, which the administration never investigated even after brought to their attention.

  • Cardinal64

    The funny policy of mandatory “on-campus” housing is laughable when privately owned houses on high street are not “on-campus” but run down university owned houses/apartments across Washington Street (4 lanes) are.

    • Spin

      Fair point, but the university is trying to move all housing to the south side of Washington St. I thought they’d progressed pretty far in that project, but I’m not sure.

  • Wes70’s

    “If we don’t close the houses with the hopes of acquiring them, then we shouldn’t go down this road at all.” Stunning; and disappointing on a grand scale. The Wesleyan that I attended in the 70’s would be appalled at this admission.

  • DKE Bro

    Motherfucker Roth. We will have the last laugh. Motherfucker

    • Concerned Alum

      DKE Bro, I understand your passion, but please dial back the rhetoric a bit.

      • Spin

        Why squelch him? He probably demonstrates why DKE lost their franchise.

      • Concerned Alum

        And the students who threatened DKE with firebombing and the multiple times the house was vandalized by students is acceptable behavior? Never investigated or punished by the university.

      • Spin

        No, of course that’s not acceptable. I can’t speak to that, I have no knowledge about it.

  • Spin

    The frats involved brought this upon themselves and are neither innocent nor naive. Roth is looking after the interests of the university as a whole, that’s his job. Grow up guys and act like responsible adults, not petulant entitled jerks.



    • Lady justice

      Petulant entitled jerks? Wow, who needs to grow up? I suppose a couple guys can’t sit in a pizza parlor off campus and get together now under the administration’s new policy. Or does it depend who owns the establishment? The new policy by the university obviously smacks of discrimination, double standards, and clear infringement on freedom of association. Not to mention the comment by Roth which exposes the school to tremendous legal liability for attempting to take another’s property unlawfully. I’m incredulous that this so called leader is still permitted to run the school by the current trustees. The Wesleyan community needs to wake up quickly.