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Fraternity Sues Wesleyan for Coeducation Requirement

February 20, 2015

The Wesleyan University chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon is suing the university for "discrimination, misrepresentation and deceptive practices" over Wesleyan's order that its fraternities must become coeducational. Delta Kappa Epsilon is one of just two officially recognized on-campus fraternities at the university. The other, Psi Upsilon, is facing a lawsuit over an alleged sexual assault, as is an unofficial off-campus fraternity called Beta Theta Pi.

In September, Wesleyan said it would give residential fraternities three years to become coeducational. The DKE lawsuit, filed by undergraduate and alumni members of the fraternity, alleges that the university "broke this promise" and fast-tracked its decision to deny DKE housing rights less than five months after its initial demand, and two days before the university's housing selection process began.

"As a result, the student members of DKE fraternity have inexplicably and without reasonable notice been stripped of their rights to on-campus housing and the fraternity denied the annual rental income it is entitled to as owner of the property," the chapter said in a statement.

The suit, which seeks an injunction to restore DKE's housing next year, states that the university's refusal to "permit male fraternity brothers to reside in single-sex housing flies in the face of the university's willingness to allow many other diverse groups to reside by choice with members of the same sex, ethnicity, national origin, religion, culture, sexual orientation, sexual identification and the like."

The fraternity said it made "good faith efforts to achieve a workable solution" during the last five months, but the university said it disagrees. In a statement Thursday, Wesleyan said the lawsuit has no merit, and that the fraternity "expressly disavowed any commitment" to become coeducational.

"DKE’s annual program housing agreement was terminated for the next academic year only after the organization repeatedly failed to take any meaningful steps or make any reasonable commitments toward residential coeducation before the date on which the housing selection process began," the university stated. "The DKE house has historically operated very differently than other special interest program houses at Wesleyan in many ways, but notably that it explicitly prohibits residence by females. This must change."

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Jake New

Jake New, Reporter, covers student life and athletics for Inside Higher Ed. He joined the publication in June 2014 after writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education and covering education technology for eCampus News. For his work at the Chronicle covering legal disputes between academic publishers and critical librarians, he was awarded the David W. Miller Award for Young Journalists. His work has also appeared in the Bloomington Herald-Times, Indianapolis Monthly, Slate, PBS, Times Higher Education and the Australian. Jake studied journalism at Indiana University, where he was editor-in-chief of the Indiana Daily Student.

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