On the night of Thursday, May 21 as numerous alumni and families of soon-to-be graduates crowded the Wesleyan University campus, a student feminist group vandalized the house and lawn of Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity to publicly protest the chapter’s existence on campus.
After a slew of sexual assault scandals involving Greek life, Wesleyan administration ordered all fraternities to admit women as members. If they refused, they would get kicked out of their residence and lose their right to function as a student organization.
“With equity and inclusion in mind,” Wesleyan President Michael Roth wrote in an email to the student body in September 2014. “Women as well as men must be full members and well-represented in the body and leadership of the organization.”
After months of attempted negotiation with the administration, DKE filed a lawsuit against the university for gender discrimination. The crux of their argument was that the university preaches, but doesn’t always execute, tolerance for all students and organizations.
Wesleyan officially endorses campus residences such as “Women of Color House,” “Light House” for Christian students and “Open House” for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Flexural, Asexual, Genderfuck, Polyamorous, Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism (LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM) communities.”
The lawsuit was taken to Connecticut court and the judge currently has 120 days left to decide whether or not DKE will receive an injunction for the case — much to the discontent of Wesleyan feminist groups.
Wesleyan DKE Treasurer Mitchell Ryan was a resident at the fraternity house and recalled waking up to find the entire property trashed with hundreds of pamphlets littered across the lawn.
“There was silly string sprayed all over the front of the house — windows, side of the house, doors, everything. Then there were papers all over the yard – the feminists’ flyers. … And [another DKE brother] cut down a banner that was hung on our front porch that said ‘Feminists, Not Fiction,'” he said.
In the pamphlets scattered across the DKE property, the perpetrators detailed their “anger” towards the brothers of the fraternity for acting “in defense of [their] precious house.” A Wesleyan DKE member wrote an article in The Washington Post responding to the discrimination.
The pamphlet accused the brothers of “acting like children with [their] grubby fingers in [their] ears” and chastised the chapter for various actions of fraternity members at different schools.
“Your comrades in New Haven say, NO MEANS YES, YES MEANS ANAL! … And your brothers at UC Berkley say nothing. They just drug and rape their party guests in silence,” the pamphlet reads, referring to unrelated fraternity incidents at Yale and Berkley.
The pamphlet also refuted DKE’s use of Wesleyan’s 2013-14 Clery Report Statistics on campus sexual assault cases — which reported only two out of the 15 sexual assault cases at Wesleyan occurred in fraternities — as completely irrelevant and baseless.
“You tell us to look at the impenetrable data…only 2 of the 15 rapes reported were at frats. If you think there were 15 rapes, … THEN YOU ARE A BAD SCIENTIST,” the pamphlet said.
After hours of peeling silly string off the house, chasing flyers that had blown through the street and cutting down the satirical banner from the front porch, the members took to their blog, CardinalTruths.com, to respond to the vandals.
To the perpetrators of this vandalism we say: we understand that you are angry, but believe that your anger is misplaced. We regret that you resorted to vandalism to make your point. … We believe that that the best way to resolve issues is through communication. To that end, if there is a way to facilitate greater understanding through open dialogue, we are willing to meet with you and hear what you have to say – no questions asked and no charges filed.
In an interview with The Daily Caller, chapter President Tucker Ingraham, who is also named as a petitioner on the lawsuit, cleared up the misconceptions that sparked the pamphlet’s accusations against them.
Ingraham was reluctant to reply directly to the content of the pamphlet, as he is “unclear how it applies directly to [them].” The vandals complain that the fraternity is disregarding, and therefore perpetuating, sexual assaults that have occurred at Wesleyan.
Ingraham recognized that Wesleyan has dealt with multiple cases involving fraternities and their residences, however not one took place at DKE.
“We [are] framed with other fraternities. And the incidents at other fraternities are being applied to us. When really, our organization hasn’t had any major problems, as far as I can remember — certainly not since we have been [Wesleyan] students,” he said.
Ryan also explained how this incident is indicative of how the fight against campus sexual assaults was skewed from the very beginning to focus on scapegoating fraternities as opposed to coming together and creating an “everybody against sexual assault” community.
“Every sexual assault victim should be taken seriously and their claim should never be undermined by the system,” Ryan said. “But from the beginning, people were ready to put all the blame on the fraternities. And from the beginning, they weren’t able to have the open dialogue that we are still hoping to have.”
This is not the first time Wesleyan students have made threats against the campus DKE chapter. One Wesleyan student group posted on Facebook, “BURN IT DOWN,” referring to an image of the DKE house. Another said, “WE SHOULD JUST THROW ROCKS THROUGH ITS WINDOWS.”
The chapter president regrets that his alma mater has fostered such a hostile environment in which students believe they can vandalize and threaten fraternities without any repercussions.
Additionally, Ingraham clarified that the lawsuit DKE has filed against the university is strictly in regards to DKE’s university-sponsored housing for undergraduate students. “The lawsuit stems from an unfair timeline from university,” Ingraham said, as well as inconsistencies in the demands and expectations the administration had for each fraternity.
Wesleyan DKE brothers are appealing to the anonymous vandals with high hopes of putting this incident behind them and joining forces to start effectively combatting sexual assault on the campus they all consider home.
This incident is “completely contrary to the spirit of Wesleyan,” they wrote. “[But] there is a way to facilitate greater understanding through open dialogue. Just send us a message and we’ll schedule a discussion.”