Middletown, CT – May 1, 2017 – The legal case brought against Wesleyan University for arbitrarily forbidding members of the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity to live in their own house will begin jury selection on May 24, following a decisive ruling by a Connecticut State judge that denied the University’s motion for summary judgment.
In deciding against Wesleyan, Judge Julia L. Aurigemma ruled there are “genuine issues of material fact” as to whether President Michael Roth and the University administration engaged in unfair trade practices, broke promises, lied, and interfered with DKE’s business expectations when it reneged on a promise to let DKE brothers live in the fraternity house if the alumni owners submitted a plan to coeducate the house within three years. The judge specifically noted that “despite subsequent efforts and compliance with [Roth’s] terms, the university suspended DKE House’s eligibility” for student housing.
In refusing to dismiss the case, Judge Aurigemma cited numerous instances where there were legitimate open questions on whether the Administration had engaged in unfair practices. Some examples from the decision include:
• “There are genuine issues of material fact as to whether [Roth and Wesleyan] intended to drive out the fraternity and acquire DKE House for the university’s own use and benefit.”
• “There are genuine issues of material fact as to whether [Wesleyan] engaged in immoral, unethical, oppressive, or unscrupulous behavior when [it] represented what changes were necessary in order for DKE House to remain a housing option for Wesleyan students.”
• “There are genuine issues of material fact as to whether the university engaged in misleading conduct by not informing [DKE] of the February 6, 2015 deadline until January 21, 2015, and what would be necessary for DKE House to remain available as a program house.”
The case grows out of the unilateral decision of Wesleyan President Michael Roth, without a vote by the Board of Trustees, to require that all fraternal dwellings at Wesleyan accept women residents. DKE alumni were told that if they submitted a plan to coeducate the house over three years, DKE brothers would be allowed to live in their house during the coeducation process, but when the plan was submitted, new conditions were arbitrarily added that could not have been fulfilled within the deadline. And even though a more fleshed out plan has subsequently been submitted, Wesleyan still forbids DKE brothers from living in their house until the alumni lawsuit is withdrawn.
Since the filing of the lawsuit, emails from President Roth have surfaced in which he articulated what seems to be his real motivation for shutting down the fraternity: to gain control over the fraternity’s desirable on-campus property. In an email to then Board Chair Joshua Boger, Roth wrote: “If we don’t close the houses in the hopes of acquiring them, we shouldn’t go down this road at all.”
Gary Breitbord, President of Wesleyan’s DKE Alumni association said: “While we are gratified by this ruling we regret that it has come this far. It was never our desire to sue our alma mater, which we love, but we were forced into this by the Administration’s refusal to work with us in a reasonable manner. We look forward to finally getting our day in court and having this adjudicated by an impartial jury of our peers.
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