Wesleyan: DKE Fraternity files lawsuit, ten students hospitalized for Molly overdose

On Feb. 19, members of the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity at Wesleyan University announced a lawsuit against their school. The lawsuit, according to a DKE press release, accuses the University’s administration of “discrimination, misrepresentation, and deceptive practices” in their attempts to coeducate the fraternity’s house.

The claims made by the Gamma Phi Chapter came after the administration chose to terminate the fraternity’s annual program housing agreement because “the organization repeatedly failed to take any meaningful steps or make any reasonable commitments towards residential coeducation before the date on which the housing selection process began,” the University wrote in a statement.

Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth announced his decision to require the admittance of women into Greek organizations earlier this fall, eliciting much resistance from both undergraduates and alumni who find it detrimental to their mission of brotherhood.

President Roth’s initial timeframe for the integration was three years—a deadline the members of DKE claim they were preparing for by “[providing] a tour of its facilities to administration representatives…and [hosting] discussions with a potential partner about shared housing arrangements,” according to the Wesleyan Argus. However, after five months, the University came to the conclusion that not enough progress was being made, and DKE was informed that they would not receive housing for the 2015-2016 academic year. The organization stated in their press release that they were not given enough time to enact change and the administration provided insufficient warning.

Psi Upsilon, the only other male-exclusive fraternity at Wesleyan, has taken greater steps to coeducate and expects women in their spring rush class. While DKE has not made such progress, James McLeod, a Wesleyan sophomore, said, “the matter is more complex than it seems.”

McLeod explained in an email that Psi Upsilon’s national organization, unlike DKE’s, allows for the admittance of women, making the coeducation process much easier. However, if DKE were to admit women, McLeod said it “would lose its national charter and the alumni network that comes with it.”

DKE’s house has traditionally been a part of the Program Housing system that characterizes much of residential life on the Middletown, Conn. campus. According to the University’s website, “it gives students an opportunity to live collectively in a house or hall, fraternity or society, based on shared hobbies, experiences, cultural interests, and identities.”

The removal of DKE from this system has resulted in the lawsuit’s claims of “discrimination” and accusations towards the administration for denying the members their right to opt for single-sex housing. President of DKE, Terence Durkin (Wesleyan ’16), commented to the Wesleyan Argus, “[the University] embraces every other person’s right to live together based on gender, race, creed or sexual affiliation, but with the coeducation mandate in the fall this seems to not apply to us.”

He furthered his argument by saying “discrimination is wrong no matter what form it takes, and the university has unfairly singled us out in order to achieve their brand of ‘diversity.’”

In a statement to Business Insider, Wesleyan claims to have given DKE the opportunity to work together to coeducate the house by 2016, but the fraternity has “instead chosen to commence a lawsuit against the University.”

The case, which is set to arrive in court on March 9th, is viewed by the administration to have “no merit” but by most of the Greek community, according to McLeod, to be fully justified.
Wesleyan has also been the center of many news updates because of a recent drug issue on campus. The school gained national recognition after ten students and two visitors were hospitalized for overdosing on the drug Molly, though one of the students was found later to only have been sick from alcohol-related issues.

According to CNN, President Roth wrote a letter to the campus community in which he stated, “I ask all students: Please, please stay away from illegal substances the use of which can put you in extreme danger. One mistake can change your life forever.”
As of Monday, four of the hospitalized students remained in medical care, with two still in critical condition.

Colby, and other NESCAC schools, have long struggled with ensuring student safety within the campus party scene, but fortunately has seen a decrease in the number of alcohol-related hospitalizations. Colby students with close ties to the Wesleyan community, as well as those who have heard about the incident through recent news posts, have acknowledged the dangers in party drugs and brought the conversation campus-wide.

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