An all-male fraternity at Wesleyan University in Connecticut is defying the school’s order that it admit women, filing a lawsuit against the school that argues the command amounts to sex discrimination.
Five months ago, Wesleyan’s handful of fraternities were given an ultimatum from the school: Allow women to join the house, or shut down. Although initially given three years to adapt to co-ed housing, the members of Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) say the school accelerated the order, telling them they had to admit women by next year. After deeming their progress insufficient, Wesleyan announced that the fraternity would no longer be allowed to have students live in it (all Wesleyan undergraduates must live on campus).
Now, Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) says the order represents “an egregious example of political correctness gone wrong.”
DKE points out that the command is a targeted assault on the fraternity’s identity as a male organization, because Wesleyan has no shortage of housing for other students from selected groups. For instance, the Women of Color house caters to non-white females, the Womanist House is for students “committed to the issues of Wesleyan women,” and the Turath House exists for Arab, Middle Eastern, and Muslim students.
Most spectacular of all is the Open House, which defines itself as (we are not making this up) “a safe space for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Flexual, Asexual, Genderfuck, Polyamourous, Bondage/Disciple, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism (LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM) communities and for people of sexually or gender dissident communities.”
In addition to all of this special housing, Wesleyan’s own housing options allow students to choose to live in single-sex dormitories.
With the school tolerating so many housing options for particular communities, DKE argues, to try to abolish the fraternity simply for defining itself as a male organization is crass sex discrimination, not to mention “immoral, unethical, oppressive or unscrupulous.”
DKE says the school has also rejected compromises it offered, such as allowing women to live in the house as members of a separate sorority rather than as fraternity members.
DKE’s national organization has endorsed the local affiliates action.
“Sadly, President [Michael] Roth feels compelled to break DKE’s 150-year old tradition on Wesleyan’s campus which, as the University has said, ‘has contributed greatly to Wesleyan over a long period of time’ in order to pursue his own particular brand of ‘diversity,'” DKE said in a statement.
Wesleyan has fired back with a statement of its own, arguing that DKE is different from other special housing options because it explicitly excludes females, rather than simply not being targeted at them.
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