In an email sent to the campus community this morning, the Board of Trustees of Wesleyan University has mandated that residential fraternities must begin accepting and housing male and female students within the next three years, according to Business Insider.
In the email, Joshua Boger, Chair of the Board of Trustees, and President Michael Roth, wrote that, while fraternities at the Connecticut school have “contributed greatly to Wesleyan over a long period of time,” the trustees have decided to make changes.
“With equity and inclusion in mind, we have decided that residential fraternities must become fully co-educational over the next three years,” the trustees wrote. “If the organizations are to continue to be recognized as offering housing and social spaces for Wesleyan students, women as well as men must be full members and well-represented in the body and leadership of the organization.”
There has been pressure on the university to ban residential fraternal organizations, following a federal lawsuit filed against the university in 2012 over a sexual assault against a woman at the Mu Epsilon chapter of Beta Theta Pi, a fraternity house the lawsuit claimed was known on campus as the “Rape Factory.”
The assault victim, listed in legal documents as “Jane Doe,” claimed she was subjected to harassment after reporting the attack, and the university did nothing to stop it.
It is likely that some fraternities may have their charters revoked by the national organizations that specifically ban extending memberships to the opposite sex.
The entire text of the email is below:
To the Wesleyan community:
As you may know, we have been considering the future role of Greek life at Wesleyan, and over the summer a great many Wesleyan alumni, students and faculty offered their views. Some have urged that we preserve the status quo; others have argued for the elimination of all exclusive social societies. The trustees and administration recognize that residential fraternities have contributed greatly to Wesleyan over a long period of time, but we also believe they must change to continue to benefit their members and the larger campus community. With equity and inclusion in mind, we have decided that residential fraternities must become fully co-educational over the next three years. If the organizations are to continue to be recognized as offering housing and social spaces for Wesleyan students, women as well as men must be full members and well-represented in the body and leadership of the organization.
This change is something that Wesleyan and the fraternities have been contemplating for many years, and now the time has come. The University looks forward to receiving plans from the residential fraternities to co-educate, after which it will work closely with them to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Our residential Greek organizations inspire loyalty, community and independence. That’s why all our students should be eligible to join them. Although this change does not affect nonresidential organizations, we are hopeful that groups across the University will continue to work together to create a more inclusive, equitable and safer campus. We look forward to working with all campus constituencies to improve the residential experience of Wesleyan students now and for generations to come.
Joshua Boger ’73, P’06, P’09
Chair, Board of Trustees
Michael S. Roth ’78