Publication Date



Ronald Schatz


History (HIST)


English (United States)


Wesleyan’s 1960s idealism came from a moment of extraordinary wealth and set a precedent of spending that was unsustainable, especially considering the national financial situation in the 1970s. Therefore, when women entered Wesleyan’s campus, the school did not have the funding to truly accommodate these new female students. While on the surface coeducation appeared to be an easy, immediate success, the school’s lack of egalitarian social spaces made all-fraternities a central, discriminatory force on campus. Fraternities continued to exist as places that encouraged heavy drinking, drugs, and sexual attacks, even as Wesleyan promoted itself as a progressive, egalitarian institution. Wesleyan did not generate enough capital to adequately address its reliance on fraternity spaces until the early twenty-first century when a new president and fundraising campaign made campus expansion possible again. The school invested in centralized residential spaces and a student center and dining complex that, together, worked to reduce the power fraternities had on campus social life. Although these additions did not replace Greek life, they allowed for student life to exist in school-sponsored rather than all-male spaces. The Wesleyan administration seized this opportunity to rein in fraternities, using strategies similar to those other schools had twenty years earlier. Whether these reforms will be successful in positively altering Wesleyan’s gender dynamics still remains to be seen.



© Copyright is owned by author of this document