Connecticut fraternity seeks court order in gender-integration policy fight

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 22, 2015 7:06 AM

By Richard Weizel

MILFORD, Conn. (Reuters) - An all-male fraternity, entangled in a legal fight with a Connecticut university over its no-women membership policy, is seeking a temporary court injunction on Wednesday to allow its members to continue living in its on-campus housing.

Wesleyan University advised its Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity in September that as part of a new university policy requiring all campus groups to go co-ed, it must allow at least six women to live in its on-campus houses within three years.

The fraternity filed a lawsuit against the school in February in Middletown Superior Court, contending Wesleyan discriminated against its members by telling them later that they had to move out by the end of the current academic year because they had not made enough progress to admit women members.

The fraternity's attorney, Kathleen Eldergill, said the administration has stuck to its insistence that all the 32 members move out.

University officials told the fraternity, known by the nickname DKE, it was not moving fast enough to admit women.

Wesleyan requires its undergraduates to reside on campus and members would have nowhere to live, Eldergill said.

"What we're seeking in court Wednesday is an order to permit fraternity members to continue living in the on-campus housing while the court decides on the status of the university's decision, which we believe is clearly discriminatory," said Eldergill.

Wesleyan's attorney, James Rotondo, declined comment ahead of the hearing.

The university released a statement in February saying it had tried to work with the fraternity to ensure it would be ready to admit women by 2016.

Wesleyan's order to its fraternities to integrate came at a time when universities across the United States are trying to fight what the White House has described as an "epidemic" of sexual assault. The Department of Education has brought suit against more than 50 schools, not including Wesleyan, contending that their policies on stopping sexual assault and harassment fall short of federal requirements.

(Editing by Scott Malone and Mohammad Zargham)