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Wesleyan’s last remaining fraternity accuses school of shutting it down on flimsy drug pretext

School won’t say what the drugs were

And then there were none.

The last residential fraternity at Wesleyan University, Psi Upsilon, has been shut down for the 2015-2016 school year – and possibly longer – in response to an ongoing investigation into drug culture at the school.

State and federal prosecutors have discovered that “on several occasions some members” of the fraternity “have organized group purchases of narcotics,” according to an email Monday to the Wesleyan community from President Michael Roth and Vice President of Student Affairs Michael Whaley.

Psi U, as it’s known, was to welcome its first coed class of members this upcoming academic year.

The fraternity strongly disputes Wesleyan’s factual claims and accuses the school of depriving it of due process for the second time in a year.

A history of animosity

Psi U was already on bad terms with the administration. In December, the university placed it on probation, barring it from hosting social events through the end of 2015, for alleged sexual assaults that took place at its events in 2011 and 2013.

Two students were “dismissed” from Wesleyan following those reported assaults, though FoxCT reported that only one was found “responsible” for assault. Wesleyan officials confirmed that Psi U’s probation status factored into its suspension for alleged drug buys.

The email from Roth and Whaley did not identify the alleged drugs in question.

“Police monitored and interrupted one of these transactions in May, and the police investigation into this activity is ongoing,” they wrote Monday. “The organization was already on probation as a result of serious violations of university policy that occurred in prior years.”

Students who even set foot on the fraternity’s property “will be subject to judicial action by the University,” the email said.

They said the shuttering of the frat was “deeply disappointing for so many of us,” particularly the “new women members who had planned to live there this fall.” But the school won’t rule out “other disciplinary consequences for those involved.”

Middletown police chief William McKenna confirmed to The College Fix that there is an open investigation into Psi U but did not elaborate further.

The national Psi U organization said it was suspending the Wesleyan chapter pending the outcome of the investigation, though it spoke more carefully about the fraternity’s alleged guilt than the administration.

“We are disappointed to hear that Psi Upsilon members may have been involved in illegal drug activity and will hold an investigation into this issue to determine the truth of the allegations,” said Executive Director Thomas Fox. “Once we conclude our investigation into the matter we can better decide a direction for the chapter as a whole.”

Second time in a year for punishment ‘without formal criminal charges’

The Wesleyan chapter of Psi U savaged the administration for its decision, in a statement on The Wesleyan Argus’s website.

Contrary to the administration’s telling, the frat said it had only been told of “alleged illegal activity involving a person who was not a Wesleyan student occurring near the House after the completion of spring term,” and “no individuals have been named or identified to us.”

Psi U accused the administration of punishing the frat for a second time “without formal criminal charges being made or adjudicated,” referring to the sexual-assault allegations that led to its probation.

“We do not accept the rush to judgment, trial by media, and continued damage to the reputation of our House that has played an important role at Wesleyan for almost 175 years,” they said.

In another statement emailed to the Argus, the frat said Roth had “omitted important information” in the message to the community.

“No drugs were purchased and no dealer was apprehended,” and the alleged incident “occurred during senior week, when most of our membership had left school, the chapter was effectively not operating, and there were non-members residing in the house,” the emailed statement read.

More than just the one incident

Senior Wesleyan administrators told The Fix in a campus meeting how they obtained knowledge of the illicit drug activity.

“The state and federal authorities informed us of drug activity as part of their ongoing investigation into drug culture at Wesleyan,” said Whaley, the vice president of student affairs. “When we asked for more details, it was apparent that several Psi U members were involved in the purchase of narcotics.”

Whaley rebutted the frat’s claim that there was only one incident, saying that incidents outside of senior week were also reported by authorities, though those authorities are tight-lipped with the school about other incidents.

Administrators declined to identify the drugs in question, but say they consulted the school’s lawyers before deciding to suspend Psi U.

Frat leaders were only informed on Friday that their house would be shuttered, which no one had previously told them “was even a possibility,” they told the Argus. They accused the administration of waiting two months to tell them “about the possibility of a drug dealer” in the frat.

State and federal authorities have been investigating the distribution and use of illicit substances at Wesleyan ever since 12 students were hospitalized after taking contaminated MDMA, also known as Molly, in February. Two ex-students are now facing charges with a 40-year prison sentence for “intent to distribute” and “attempted distribution” of the drugs.

Several administrators expressed their disappointment with Psi U to The Fix and in written statements, claiming that they had been looking forward to be working with the fraternity, which had recently admitted women.

The ‘rape factory’ and mandatory coeducation

Psi U was slated to be the only residential fraternity operational for the upcoming year.

Last fall, Beta Theta Pi was shut down after a student fell from its third story window and sustained serious injuries.

Activists had labeled Beta a “rape factory” and it was already under probation for violations including a 2010 sexual assault that resulted in jail time for the accused.

Around the same time, the university said that all fraternities must co-educate by 2017 or shut down. The decision was accepted by Psi U, which admitted several women for the upcoming academic year, but it was heavily resisted by Delta Kappa Epsilon.

Five months later, the university suspended DKE’s housing rights two days before the university housing selection process began. In response, DKE filed a lawsuit against the university, claiming discriminatory practices.

The lawsuit included a motion to allow the fraternity to remain open for the 2015-2016 academic year, but was denied by a judge.

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IMAGE: Bryan Stascavage

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Bryan Stascavage -- Wesleyan University.

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