- FIREARMS IN THE HOUSE
- NAMED INSURED
- COLGATE CONQUERS GREEKS; SOME GREEKS, LIKE SPARTANS, FIGHT TO THE END
- FIRST AMENDMENT VICTORIES
- FELONY MURDER
- KATRINA: DISASTER RELIEF BY FRATERNAL ORGANIZATIONS AND FOUNDATIONS
Newsletter > November 2005 > "COLGATE CONQUERS GREEKS; SOME GREEKS, LIKE SPARTANS, FIGHT TO THE END"
COLGATE CONQUERS GREEKS; SOME GREEKS, LIKE SPARTANS, FIGHT TO THE END
Robert Manley, Manley Burke
The message from Colgate was clear:
- It is a goal to improve residential life;
- To fulfill this goal, it is necessary for Colgate to own and operate the fraternity houses;
- Fraternities that do not sell their houses to the college will be ejected from the campus;
- All Greeks must live in residential college housing (with the exception of a select number of seniors); and
- Even though the members of Delta Kappa Epsilon live in Colgate’s residential housing, the Chapter is thrown off campus because the Alumni Corporation refused to sell the chapter house or its Temple-Library to Colgate.
All but one of the fraternity and sorority house corporations sold their houses to Colgate.
Delta Kappa Epsilon has responded with an aggressive antitrust lawsuit, pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York. Currently, the University has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and the lawyers for DKE are preparing their responsive brief and affidavits.
There is a website posted under the name of “Students and Alumni for Colgate, Inc.”
The plaintiffs in the DKE lawsuit are Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) Alumni Corporation, Mu of DKE Foundation, and Sam Higgins, President of the Mu Chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon.
Even though all of the members of the DKE Chapter at Colgate live in University housing, the Chapter is being ousted from campus and the members are being ordered not to hold meetings on or off campus. This is enforced by threats of expulsion.
The heart of the antitrust claim is that the college and the fraternities participated along with private landlords in the local market for student housing and student meals. By using its institutional power to force the fraternities to sell their houses to the University, the University disrupted this local market, which will increase the expenses to the students for housing and food. Hamilton College did the same thing and successfully defeated litigation. As a result, the cost for housing and food to students escalated dramatically.
The contested issue of fact is whether or not this secondary market for housing and food is a relevant market for antitrust purposes. That is a contention that is denied by the expert hired by the University and will be asserted by the expert hired by DKE.
While this has been happening, a group of alumni of the Phi Delta Theta Chapter at Colgate University has filed suit against Colgate. The purpose of the suit is to set aside the sale of the real estate owned by PDT Corp. at 114 Broad Street in Hamilton, New York.
The alumni claim that the sale was extracted by Colgate through coercive action.
The suit relies upon a letter from the Chairman of the Colgate Board of Trustees which states, “Only Greek-letter organizations that choose to sell to the University will continue to be recognized by the University and house undergraduate members in their traditional chapter houses.” (June 1, 2004) They also rely upon a letter from Colgate’s Financial Vice President, David Hale, that states, “We have also made clear to [the Colgate Alumni Intrafraternity/Sorority Council Property Committee] that Colgate University will only recognize fraternities and sororities that are residential organizations beginning in the Fall of 2005. Organizations that choose to retain ownership will no longer be residential and, accordingly, will not be recognized by Colgate after June 2005. In this regard, we are aware that there are ideas of houses functioning as eating clubs or even continuing as underground, unrecognized fraternities. Everyone should understand the [University] will not permit this and will adopt a policy that any student who participates in an unrecognized fraternity or sorority will be subject to disciplinary action, including possible suspension or expulsion.” (June 22, 2004)
The suit also makes reference to a letter from Adam Weinberg, Dean of the College, which states: “Any Greek-letter organization that opts not to sell its house to the University will not become a member of the Broad Street community and will consequently forfeit University recognition as of July 1, 2005. Beginning in the Fall 2005 semester, such organizations will not be allowed to house or enroll Colgate students as members and will cease all operations.” (September 8, 2004)
The PDT alumni suit also quotes the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, John Golden: “Fraternities that have chosen to retain ownership of their properties will not be allowed to house students next Fall, and the University will withdraw recognition of their undergraduate chapters in Summer 2005.” (December 9, 2004)
The PDT alumni claim that the sale of the house was produced through coercive activities and violates an ongoing agreement between Colgate and its Greek organizations, under which the Greek organizations had been granted the right to function at Colgate.
The suit is filed by the alumni in the form of a derivative lawsuit. They had requested that the Board of Directors of the PDT Corp. file suit and the request was denied. As a result, the dissident alumni have filed the suit on behalf of the corporation in an effort to get equitable relief to transfer the house back to the PDT Corp.
The PDT alumni case is pending in the Supreme Court of New York in Madison County.
The website of Students and Alumni for Colgate, Inc. is urging alumni of other chapters to organize and file derivative shareholders’ actions against Colgate.
The editors of Fraternal Law have learned that at least two other lawsuits are being prepared. One is the nature of an alumni derivative action against the University. The other is by a fraternity claiming that the University has treated it in an arbitrary and capricious manner. If they are filed, they will be reported in the pages of Fraternal Law.