Jury Awards Damages to Fraternity That Sued Wesleyan Over Mandate to Go Coed

A state-court jury in Connecticut on Thursday sided with a fraternity whose house was closed by Wesleyan University in the fall of 2015 after the fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon, resisted complying with a university mandate to admit women, The Hartford Courant reported.

The case is not over, though. While Thursday’s verdict, by a jury in Middlesex County Superior Court, awards damages of $386,000 to the fraternity’s alumni chapter, it does not automatically reopen the fraternity house. It does allow Delta Kappa Epsilon to continue arguing in court for reinstating its housing status on the Middletown, Conn., campus.

The university had informed its residential fraternities in September 2014 of the mandate requiring them to become fully coeducational over the next three years. “If the organizations are to continue to be recognized as offering housing and social spaces for Wesleyan students, women as well as men must be full members and well-represented in the body and leadership of the organization,” its president wrote in a memo to the fraternities at the time.

Delta Kappa Epsilon came up with a plan that would allow women to live in its house, but said its national organization did not allow it to admit women as members. The university revoked the chapter’s housing status in February 2015 and has not allowed members to live in the house since the start of the 2015-16 academic year.

After Thursday’s verdict, the judge in the case encouraged the two sides to negotiate a settlement rather than have the court decide. The university said it was exploring its legal options.

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