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Newsletter > March 2015 > "DKE Sues Wesleyan"
DKE Sues Wesleyan
Tim Burke, Manley Burke, email@example.com
Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, announced in the fall of 2014 that within three years, its residential fraternities must become fully co-educational. Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) presented plans to the University to include women in their house, but according to the University, those plans were insufficient since they “did not include a timeline or detail for its proposed approach to partner with a sorority to achieve co-education.”1
Wesleyan requires students to live on campus all four years and has a wide variety of housing options on campus. Nonetheless, the day before housing selection for the 15-16 academic year was to begin, the university announced its housing agreement with DKE had been terminated because of dissatisfaction with DKE’s plans.
DKE responded filing a lawsuit2 on February 19th on behalf of its House Corporation, the Gamma Phi Chapter of DKE at Wesleyan, and two of its members. The suit is against the University, the University President and the Vice President for Student Affairs. The suit has 12 counts, including violations of Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act,3 Breach of Contract, and Tortious Interference with Business Expectancies.
Wesleyan posts on its website a wide variety of housing options known as Program Housing in some 30 separate houses. Of those, four are listed as fraternities by the University, two of which — the Eclectic House and Alpha Delta Phi – appear to be local organizations which are already co-ed. The Program Housing includes housing which may be single sex, including the Womanist House and Women of Color House. Housing options in the University’s residence halls include, evidently at the students’ choice, both co-ed floors and single sex floors.
The initial hearing in this case is scheduled to take place on March 9, 2015, and seeks an injunction which would allow current members of DKE to continue to apply for residence in the DKE house and include the house in the University’s Program Housing. The suit also seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney’s fees.
Curiously, the complaint does not state a cause of action for discrimination on the basis of sex (limiting men’s living options), nor claim a violation of Title IX.
Wesleyan is a private university and the history of litigation by fraternities against private universities has not been good, but the unique facts in this case and Wesleyan’s Housing Program may make this a stronger case.
1 February 25, 2015, Update on Greek Life at Wesleyan by Hill Holder from the Wesleyan University website.
2 Kent Literary Club of Wesleyan University at Middletown, et al. v. Wesleyan University, et al., Superior Court of Middlesex at Middletown, filed February 19, 2015.
Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 42-110b, et seq., Breach of Contract, Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Promissory Estoppel and Negligent Misrepresentation.