After all this time, I can still remember my first walk down College Row, with its architecture and traces of Wesleyan’s storied past. I was with my mother and we were lagging toward the back of a campus tour on arrival day. We listened to the young woman at the front telling of the history and the names of the buildings and we looked in silence at the high steeples and the clock tower and the falling leaves. I was quietly anticipating my mother’s flight and the start of a new chapter in my life. She was worried, to be sure, about her eldest son starting on his new journey. I’m sure she had high hopes for my freshman year, hopes that I would call her enough and fit in at this place. You know, mom stuff.
But what I remember most about that first walk down High Street is not the proud and anxious look on my mother’s face or the anticipation of my college experience. It is, and always will be, the row of old fraternity houses opposite North College. It is the intimidating columns of Eclectic, the high walled bushes around Beta, the Psi U castle, and the blocks of grey stone with the golden letters above the door at the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) house.
A lot has changed since that walk with my mother. Beta lost its national charter and there is a “For Sale” sign in front of the house. Psi U, a co-educated organization, was taken off of program housing after an alleged, unresolved drug charge but has been approved for program housing in the 2016-17 school year. Eclectic is turning into Music House. After meeting some amazing people and going through the rewarding process, I became a brother of Delta Kappa Epsilon. Now, during a year when I expected to be living with you in our house, I am living in the Butterfields, and we are scattered all over campus. It would be easier to take if I thought our organization did anything illegal or, at least, morally reprehensible.
But we haven’t. You know we haven’t.
This is why we have a pending lawsuit against Wesleyan University. This is why we are fighting. There must be a case made for the return of DKE on this campus because if there isn’t at least an argument, a hard look at our administration made on behalf of our Brotherhood, then I no longer believe this community is truly fostering acceptance, inclusiveness, and righteous dissent.
I wish we could look at this from a personal level and get beyond the guise of gender equity and social inequality. You know, I’m the son of two U.S. Army Veterans and grew up on military bases from Hawaii, to New Jersey, to Minnesota. My parents were brought up by modest means, joined the armed forces, and trusted me to navigate the world without a financial safety net to fall back on. They encouraged me to use my intellect to guide me places that would challenge my views of the world. To put it frankly, Wesleyan has challenged me to every corner and crevice of my soul. It has made me question everything from my academic prowess to my social interactions. This place has made me a better, more thoughtful and generous person. I’ve attributed this development to the battle of balancing academics, athletics, and my fraternity experience. You see, the support system that fraternities offer are what made them attractive to me in the first place. Whether I’m having a hard time in the classroom, in my sport, or in any parts of my life, I know I have friends rooting for me and that want to see me succeed. Thank you.
Isn’t that what we’re all after? Don’t we all want a positive experience, a place to fit in, and lifelong friends? I have worked hard and overcome personal obstacles to be here. It’s ultimately devastating to be told that our affiliation with DKE is a sign of “privilege” and “bigotry.” I truly believe that my affiliation with Greek letters does not define who I am. My character, and how I act in this community, should define me amongst my peers. Our campus’s open conflict with DKE has made me aware of how far some are willing to go to meet their personal ends without regard for the feelings and wishes of others in this community.
The slights against our fraternity have been shocking. In the fall of 2014, Wesleyan mandated that all fraternities move toward becoming fully co-educated by 2017. The University claimed a desire to promote gender equity, inclusive access to social spaces, and reduced risk of sexual assault. When DKE leadership submitted a preliminary plan for coeducation, the administration shot it down; given the mandate, it was quickly deemed inadequate. Another attempt by DKE alumni was made shortly after. It was also shot down. Then, an extensive 10-15 page proposal, including renovation plans to make the house more attractive to female students, drew out rooms for women and access to each common space in the house. The proposal was denied due to a lack of details regarding our commitment and overall plan to get women to live in the house. These details included our talks to add the Sisters of Rho Epsilon at the DKE house.
A Connecticut judge asked Dean Mike Whaley last spring, “Tell me why you could accept the general outline [of Psi Upsilon] and why DKE’s plan of some 10 or 15 pages wasn’t accepted. I’m getting the sense that you asked them to do much more than you asked Psi U to do.”
Dean Whaley responded, “I did not know when I received [DKE’s plan] if, in fact, there had been any conversations between DKE and Rho Epsilon [Pi], and that organization figured pretty prominently in their plan moving forward.” Whaley continued, “I was concerned that it didn’t seem like any of those details had been worked out.”
The short time table allotted to get our housing plan approved is one thing, but getting women to want to live in our house is quite another. Dean Whaley did not attempt to help us with those details. Finalizing the plans for such details will take time. Time was one thing the University did not grant us.
Beyond having our program housing status revoked, we are not even allowed on the premise of 276 High Street without the threat of suspension and expulsion. This is due to a clause in the student handbook, coincidently added in July 2015, that reads “Wesleyan students are also prohibited from using any other property that the University informs students are off-limits for health, safety or conduct reasons at the university’s discretion.” Read this carefully. Your University has reserved the right to tell you where you can or cannot go. With this logic, a case could be made for putting Vines On Church on a “blacklist,” with the University telling you it’s dangerous because you could get alcohol poisoning or it enables underage consumption. It’s sad that fraternities have been the collateral damage in Mr. Roth’s plight to enforce “diversity, inclusivity, and gender equality.” The hypocrisy is in the marginalization of the students who actively participate in Greek Life and rely on it for support and housing.
After all is said and done, I hope this administration knows the kind of men this fraternity has, and the assets we are on this campus. We come from diverse backgrounds, play different sports, excel in multiple disciplines, and, in the end, found common ground at 276 High Street. We have flaws, we are human, and we are doing our best. We support each other through the good and the bad. To my brothers, past and present, don’t lose faith. Don’t forget about the old stone house and the golden letters. We go to court in the fall. I have a feeling we’ll be back.
Jordan L. Jancze
Gamma Phi ’18
Jancze is a member of the class of 2018.