Unrest At Wes

For decades, Wesleyan University has been a favorite destination for Staples grads.

From pushing for the establishment of a black student union in the 1960s, to advocating for need-blind admissions in the ’90s and gender-neutral housing a few years later, “Wes” students have been in the forefront of many progressive issues.

DKEThese days, the hot-button issue is fraternities. Several months ago — responding to allegations of sexual assaults in fraternity houses — administrators ordered 2 on-campus fraternities to admit women as members and residents. Delta Kappa Epsilon’s plan — allowing women to live in the house, but not as members — was rejected by the university. Now DKE is suing.

Scott Karsten — Staples ’70, Wesleyan ’74, and a member of the chapter’s alumni group which has owned the frat house since 1888 — is the public face of that lawsuit.

According to the Hartford Courant, Karsten said that DKE has evolved in recent years. He noted that although there were previous problems with the house, it was not part of the allegations of sexual assault at 2 other Wesleyan fraternities.

Wesleyan“We believe the kids in there now are kids who represent the very best values at Wesleyan,” Karsten said.

“They are being scapegoated because they choose to live with the folks they choose to live with, unlike everyone else at Wesleyan who gets to choose who they live with.”

The complaint against Wesleyan — filed at Superior Court in Middletown — notes that the university offers many residence houses, based on characteristics such as “gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and other protected class characteristics.”

Scott Karstein

Scott Karsten

Karsten added, “discrimination is abhorrent in whatever form it may exist. President (Michael) Roth’s pursuit of selective discrimination is an egregious example of political correctness gone wrong, and does a disservice to the high ideals upon which Wesleyan was founded.”

Karsten was a noted wrestler at Staples and Wesleyan. According to the website of Karsten & Tallberg, he graduated 3rd in his class at the University of Connecticut School of Law. Before that he served as a police officer, and was president of the West Hartford police union.

A court date has been set for March 9.

4 responses to “Unrest At Wes

  1. KENDALL ANDERSON

    “They are being scapegoated because they choose to live with the folks they choose to live with, unlike everyone else at Wesleyan who gets to choose who they live with.”
    ?????

  2. I think what he’s trying to say is that this group is the only one to get scapegoated for something that everyone does (i.e., restrictively group themselves as allowed by university policies), but I agree that the sentence is confusing.

    The larger issues are perhaps being lost. Wesleyan (in my view) has two separate responsibilities: maintaining a safe community, and promoting the intellectual and emotional growth of those in its care. I’m not sure how this policy promotes either, but that should be the focus of the discussion.

  3. Stephen McCarthy

    As an active/deeply involved/loyal Wesleyan alum (who was a letter winning student/athlete unaffiliated with any fraternity during my four years), I am saddened by “the lawsuit approach” taken by my fellow alum …….but understand the strong feelings, engendered both on and off campus, by the multiple incidents in recent years surrounding real (or alleged) sexual assault claims at certain fraternity parties!

    Similar to the previous commentor, my question is “what is the end goal of this progressive policy….and does having women as full time occupants of this particular house and not members of the specific fraternity somehow ameliorate the (apparently) ongoing and disturbing problem?” BTW, my understanding is that two other fraternities had significant issues in this area which warranted more severe actions and sanctions (NB. unlike many small colleges, membership at Wesleyan’s limited number of fraternities has declined to less than 5% of the 2800 undergrads on campus!)

    My ideas in no way justify such abhorent behavior toward any person at Wes, but merely try to set a context for evaluating options to effectively deal with these legitimate concerns!