Wesleyan suspends its last frat
Wesleyan University in Connecticut will have exactly zero operational fraternities this year, now that the school has shut down its sole remaining frat house over allegations of drug activity.
In an email to faculty and students earlier this month, university president Michael Roth announced that the Psi Upsilon fraternity would be suspended for at least the 2015-2016 school year because the chapter is under investigation by law enforcement for illegal drug activity, The Wesleyan Argus reports.
“We have been informed by State and Federal prosecutors that they are actively investigating illegal drug activity at Psi Upsilon that allegedly involves members of the organization,” Roth wrote. “Specifically, we have received written notice that on several occasions some members have organized group purchases of narcotics.”
Leaders of the chapter disputed Roth’s account in an email to The Argus, saying that, “[n]o drugs were purchased and no dealer was apprehended.”
They went on to claim that, “President Roth also failed to specify that this incident occurred during senior week, when most of our membership had left school, the chapter was effectively not operating, and there were non-members residing in the house.
The suspension renders the Psi Upsilon house off-limits to all students, including members who had been planning to live at the house during the upcoming school year, and Roth warned that the university would take “judicial action” against anyone found in violation of the ban.
Prior to its suspension, Psi Upsilon was the only social fraternity left at Wesleyan, following the controversial suspension of Delta Kappa Epsilon for failing to respond with sufficient enthusiasm to the administration’s mandate that residential fraternity houses become fully coeducational, according to Inside Higher Ed.
The disciplinary action prompted the chapter to sue Wesleyan, arguing that the university’s action was unreasonably abrupt, and charging President Roth with “blatant hypocrisy” for using efforts to fight one form of discrimination to justify discrimination of another variety.
When the co-ed mandate was issued in September, 2014, Wesleyan gave fraternities three years to comply (the policy did not apply to the school’s only sorority, which does not maintain a residence). Just five months later, though, the school informed DKE that it housing rights would be suspended, explaining that, “the organization repeatedly failed to take any meaningful steps or make any reasonable commitments toward residential coeducation.”
DKE disputes the school’s characterization of its obstinacy, citing numerous “good faith efforts” to become co-educational, such as identifying structural improvements required for the change and submitting a draft plan for the transition.
Psi Upsilon was prepared to host its first female residents starting in the fall semester, but the issue has now become moot following the recent suspension.
President Roth cited several factors that contributed to the punishment imposed on the frat, including one alleged drug transaction had been “monitored and intercepted” by police in May, as well as the fact that the chapter was already on probation over past allegations of sexual assault.
In a statement published in The Argus, Psi Upsilon responded forcefully to the suspension, complaining that, “[t]his is the second time the University has levied punishment against the House and its members without formal criminal charges being made or adjudicated.” Should such charges be filed, Psi Upsilon said, the chapter would “fully support law enforcement” and take its own punitive action according to fraternity rules and regulations.
“Until then, however, punishing the entire House by making it off limits to any student activity seems reactionary and excessive,” the brothers concluded, calling the “lack of due process contrary to Wesleyan’s ideals.”
A spokeswoman for Wesleyan told Campus Reform that the university has no comment on Psi Upsilon’s contentions. She did, however, cite the original statement from President Roth and Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Whaley, in which they acknowledged that the suspension represents a “blow” to the fraternity’s members, including the female students who had planned to live at the house, and promised to “reconsider Psi U’s status after the relevant investigations conclude.”
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