|History Part II
The Middle Years and
the End of EQV
Jan Van Meter ('63)
Table of Contents
That the new name, EQV, was Latin indicated a clear separation from the
Greek names of all national fraternities and reflective of the nature of
the conflict with AXP: It was a distinction that was central to the
fraternity and acted to attract the kind of prospective members which it
wanted. As Steve Trott (’62), President of EQV in 1961-1962, explained
in the freshman rushing booklet of 1961,
[W]e are a local Wesleyan fraternity constituted so as to provide for
the undergraduate a brotherhood where his own contemporary values and
beliefs are the basic guiding principles. In rushing we are not hindered
by any discriminatory provision; rather our criterion for selection is
based upon obtaining in EQV a diversity of personalities, talents, and
interests. We believe that it is through such diversity and the
consequent constructive conflict of individual opinions that a group can
best benefit the social and educational development of its members.
It is important to remember that this ethos predated EQV since the break
with AXP and the creation of the new fraternity was caused by this
ideal, not created by it. Even the method of approving pledges reflected
this ideal. There could be no “black balling” of prospective members;
instead, if a case was made that a prospective pledge was smart,
creative, and could contribute interestingly to the whole, that person
was offered a place, even if some in the fraternity did not, initially
at least, like him.
Significantly, the controversy with AXP attracted people to the
fraternity. The class of 1962 (freshmen in 1958) grew to 19 members; the
next year’s class grew to 24. At the same time, the fraternity was
beginning its rise to visibility on campus. In 1959, Gus Napier was
elected president of the senior class, and Jay Levy was elected
vice-president of the College Body. What was not as noticed in 1958, but
became more so as years went on, a singing group was formed at the
fraternity, a singing group known first as The Clansmen and later as The
EQV, though, was not entirely, or even mostly, a serious place. If the
AXP controversy was known, it was known principally through an
occasional meal-time ritual. Some one, at lunch or dinner, would stand
up and shout, “Let’s Have a Hymn for Bob Moore.” (Moore was a prominent
alumnus of Wesleyan and AXP and a rabid enemy of EQV.) The immediate
reply from everyone at the meal was, “Bob Moore. Fuck Him.”
Like its emblem, EQV was a place of contrasts, then and later. The music
ranged from frequent after-dinner impromptu singing around the piano, to
listening to The Highwaymen rehearse or even, once, sing with Mimi Baez
Farina (Joan’s sister) to the frantic rushed practices for 1962 EQV
entry into the Wesleyan Interfraternity Sing: “A Thirteenth Century
Pageant” with the music arranged by artist Stan Lewis (’63)and the
theatrical presentation organized by Dan Snyder (’63). (For the first,
and last time, EQV won the competition.)
There were formal dinners with invited guests, generally members of the
faculty, and there were frequent food fights. Once, with then-renowned
professor and author Norman O. Brown (“Knobby) present, Knobby himself,
informed of the frequently flying food, began his own food fight to the
delight of the diners. There were almost constant bridge games, both
before and after dinner, and eventually there were frequent poker games
where some of The Highwaymen refused to look at their hole cards until
the very end of the betting. There were esoteric arguments about
political philosophy and there were wrestling, even sumo wrestling,
matches – at least until furniture suffered. There was a brief, but
intense, craze for the bull whip, a much-envied possession of Steve
Trott’s, used often and loudly in front of the house on High Street,
until the day when Bob Patricelli knocked off the antenna from a passing
But, most of all, there was food, cooked by Mrs. McNally who annually,
on St. Patrick’s Day provided food and drink that was all colored green.
Meals often ended with everyone shouting for Mrs. Mac who, upon emerging
from the kitchen would be serenaded by “K-K-K-Katie.” Mrs. McNally’s
talents were not confined to the kitchen, however. She once went hunting
with Frank Woodfill; Frank used a bow and arrow, Mrs. Mac used a
shotgun. It has gone unrecorded whether anything was killed, although
the lack of recollection seems to indicate that the Connecticut wildlife
emerged unscathed from the experience.
There was more, much of it, at least in memory, raucous. As Dave
Iannucci (’65) wrote,
Or the Dirty River Day boat race when the EQV squad sprinted past the
other contenders on a simple raft while the others all tried to sink one
another. EQV rounded the midway buoy alone and started back to shore
with the now-swamped competition lying in wait to attack and prevent
their reaching the shore. In the middle of the EQV raft stood a
bare-chested Henry Ernstthal [‘62] swinging a very long heavy chain in
circles over his head. The EQV raft reached the shore unscathed.
Or the water fight which, after inundating all four floors of the house,
continued outside and across the street, managing to catch in the
crossfire a passing school bus loaded with Jesuits. I think we got in
trouble for that one.
All drinks paled in comparison to the
punch made, on the occasion of one junior prom, with grain alcohol,
dubbed Hairy Buffalos or Jew Boys
Revenge. As for dates sleeping in the house, they weren’t always exactly
Was I a member of EQV or Animal House?
But, in the end, it was a serious Animal House. At one
point, in 1962, EQV was alleged to have the highest collective GPA of any
fraternity and it certainly led in on- and off-campus civic involvement.
To protest the high prices and monopolistic policies of the campus bookstore,
Dan Aronson (’62) and Bob Gelbach (’63) led in the creation of a Book Co-op for
used books in EQV’s library. The bookstore was a critical success, and if it
hadn’t been for some unpaid for disappearances of books, it would have been a
financial success as well. Jan Van Meter, Bruce Kirmmse (’64), Mike Erhmann
(’64), and Tom Hoeber (’63) were all involved in the just blossoming civil
rights movement, both in NSA sponsored sit-ins on the eastern shore of Maryland
and in Middletown. Bob Levy (’63, deceased) was a leader of a peace march in
Middletown in the midst of the growing Cuban missile crisis. Nearly every
significant College Body Committee included a member of EQV.
By the mid-1960s, EQV had a serious presence on campus.
But trouble lurked. In the summer of 1963, the AXP National
Fraternity approached members of the Wesleyan Board of Trustees about returning
to campus. AXP, they said, had altered its ritual to permit Jews to join.
Steve Rankin (’64) who would be president of EQV in the
spring semester of 1964 yet to come remembers:
The first that I heard of AXP’s
intention to return was when a middle-aged Phi Gamma alumnus made a surprise
visit to the house. Over lunch he warned that AXP had detailed plans to return,
had already entered into discussions with the University and had obtained the
sympathies of key members of the Board of Trustees. He also said that despite
cosmetic changes introduced by the national body to give the appearance that AXP
was non-discriminatory, the esoteric manual remained essentially unchanged, and
that attempts to change it at the national convention had been fiercely resisted
by the right-wing forces who controlled policy.
The next communication that we had
some weeks later was from Mark Barlow, the Dean of Students. He confirmed that
AXP had been involved in discussions with the University administration and had
claimed to have resolved the constitutional problems that led to the expulsion
of the Phi Gamma chapter. The administration’s position was that if AXP had
indeed put its house in order, the University could not reasonably oppose their
return. But, they did insist that AXP should first offer EQV the possibility of
returning to the fold and that the best way forward was to ask AXP to make a
formal presentation to an EQV meeting. Barlow also said that, in the event that
EQV did not want to affiliate and were evicted from the building by AXP, the
administration would make every effort to find us alternative accommodation. The
John Wesley Club was specifically mentioned as a possible home from EQV.
The general mood of the membership
was one of considerable alarm at the possibility of imminent eviction, coupled
with a feeling of betrayal that the University was apparently prepared to
sacrifice the interests of the current generation of EQV students in order to
satisfy the dubious demands of an alumni group.
While the date of that meeting is unclear, it took place in
the late fall of 1963. Bruce Kirmmse, who was president for the fall term, 1963,
I remember being taken into that
side library off the main EQV living room with Norm Daniels and Steve Rankin to
meet with a couple of guys from AXP. They kept referring to us as the “young
bucks” which struck us as funny and completely out of touch either with us or
with our generation.”
Steve Rankin adds:
On the AXP side, there were two
middle-aged reps. One of these (the spokesman) reclined comfortably in a leather
armchair next to the window facing high Street, his body language delivering the
strong message that this was AXP’s house and that we were only temporary
lodgers. They confirmed that they were in discussion with the University about a
return to campus and that the simplest way of achieving this would be for EQV to
return to the Phi Gamma fold. We were non-committal at this stage, but confirmed
that this was a question for the membership to decide.
A meeting of the whole EQV membership was called. In the
presentation that ensued, the AXP representatives explained the changes that the
fraternity had made to allow Jews into the fraternity. Among those changes were
a revised “Landmark,” in essence, a core statement.
Alpha Chi Rho believes in a God
whose moral law is the guide and law of the universe, and in Jesus of Nazareth
as the one whose life, above all others, exemplifies such law. While recognizing
our Christian heritage and seeking adherence to Christian ideas, Alpha Chi Rho
leaves to each of its Brothers the determination of his religious tenets.
Membership in Alpha Chi Rho is not denied by reason of race, color or religion,
but the Fraternity requires that its members look up to Jesus of Nazareth as
their moral exemplar.
Enough of the AXP/EQV history was remembered, that it was
clear to the EQV leaders at the meeting that AXP was both attempting to paper
over the problem and to hide the crux of the dispute. As Kirmmse says:
We made it clear to them that we
weren’t going to buy their attempt to alter their initiation ritual to make it
possible to have Jews join. We knew all along that they didn’t care about Jews.
They’d had Jews in the fraternity for a long time. They cared about blacks. The
lore around the house was that AXP referred to the Wesleyan Chapter as the Zoo
Chapter and that was a not-very-covert reference to blacks. But the subject of
race was never spoken, always understood.
They were so out of touch with who
we were, but our refusal to deal was a gutsy move on our part because we had no
assurance from anyone that, if AXP returned, we’d have a place to live.
I also recall that Mark Barlow was
in attendance and was equally unimpressed by the AXP presentation. In private,
he congratulated us on our knowledge of the issues, the penetrating questions
posed by the members, and ultimately the unanimity of our decision, taken in the
face of the very real possibility of eviction. For me, it was a moment of real
pride in being a member and our solidarity in confirming the ideals that led to
the founding of EQV.
The questionable nature of the
administration’s actions in the whole EQV situation actually begins with the
decision to let Alpha Chi Rho return to the campus, a decision which met with
the strong disapproval of members of the faculty.
According to the Argus, EQV voted unanimously, in a
secret ballot, in December, 1963, to reject the AXP offer to rejoin despite the
fact “that the national fraternity chapter owns the house they now occupy and
that substantial alumni support and considerable physical improvements to the
plant could be expected.”. In its story, the Argus quoted Steve Rankin:
“In spite of the fact that the AXP
landmarks maintained that membership in AXP is not denied because of race,
color, or religion, not one word of the secret ritual was changed. Instead they
have attempted to redefine the Christian terminology of the ritual so that words
or phrases such as Christ, Cross, Our King, to not require theological
“This is an act of grotesque
hypocrisy and is as unacceptable to the serious Christian as it is to the
non-Christian. Words cannot simply be taken out of their social context and
arbitrarily redefined in a way that ignores the denotations and connotations of
2000 years of Christian history.”
Rankin concluded, “In addition we
shall continue to urge that the administration review its present policies and
support legislation which would bar discriminatory clauses of a racial or
religious nature in campus social organizations.”
The issue would not be allowed to die there, however.
Returning to the Board of Trustees, AXP again asked to be allowed back on campus
and to reclaim the fraternity house on High Street which it owned. Little known
was the fact that AXP itself was in trouble. According to an Argus
article on April 14, 1964, “nearly one-third of AXP’s thirty-odd chapters are
The Trustees agreed to take up the issue.
Steve Rankin, by then president of EQV, says,
I can recall spending more time
than I wished during my presidential term (spring semester, 1964) in attempting
to fend off an attempt to evict EQV in order to reinstate AXP. This involved a
lot of meetings and some fairly heavy correspondence. Our main objective was to
convince the university that they should not support a bid for reinstatement on
the grounds that AXP had failed to resolve the problems which had led to the
original schism. In this we were helped by that anonymous AXP alumnus who
provided us with inside information on the motives of the individuals involved.
His message was that AXP was
controlled by the radical Christian right, and they believed that they had
support from the Trustees and the Administration to return. He spoke very much
as an AXP insider who was unhappy with the leadership and the direction that the
country was taking in autumn 1963. I cannot remember if this was before or after
Kennedy’s assassination, but it was at a time when we were all very conscious of
right-wing sub-plots. Both he and we saw the AXP attempt to return as being part
of this wider tendency.
Unfortunately, Rankin does not remember this AXP alumnus’s
Rankin wrote a document meant for the university officials
and for the Board of Trustees entitled, “The Case Against the Reestablishment of
AXP at Wesleyan.” His initial statement was joined by statements by Bruce
Kirmmse, Norm Daniels, and Stephen D. Crites, then Assistant. Professor of
Religion and Acting College Pastor at Wesleyan. (The full document can be found
in Appendix A.)
Without prior notice, the Board of Trustees took up the
issue at its April, 1964, meeting. Because EQV was not informed, it had no
chance to make its case. While the Trustees voted to allow AXP’s return, it did
require that suitable housing be found for EQV upon the return of AXP. The
reprieve and the requirement was the cause of a “riotous EQV celebration.”
On December 18, 1964, Delta Tau Delta’s house was totally
destroyed by fire. Those living in the house at the time were given temporary
housing at Saraceno House at the corner of High and Church Streets. The DTD fire
would have enormous significance for EQV.
EQV had been told that it had to move out to other quarters
in the fall of 1965 because of the possible return of AXP to campus. The other
quarters offered was the Weeks House, which housed the John Wesley Club, at the
corner of High Street and Washington Terrace. However, EQV was not eager to
move. At the Board of House Presidents meeting on January 7, 1965, EQV President
Phil Allen (’65, no information available) introduced a motion:
The BHP questions the
administration and the trustees’ treatment of EQV concerning the proposed move
to Weeks House. The BHP will make every effort to protect the interests of its
member organizations on the question of moving and housing.
The problem was a financial one. According to the Argus
article on the BHP meeting:
EQV, which has to move next fall
due to the possible return of AXP to the campus, had been offered Weeks House
before vacation. If EQV were to accept the offer, some remodeling and an
extensive addition would have to be provided in order for EQV to maintain
independent dining facilities and comparable housing.
Allen argued that the cost of moving and remodeling – and
the subsequent rent to EQV – were far beyond what EQV had been led to expect.
Mark Barlow, who routinely attended the BHP meetings,
pleaded ignorance of the facts, and the BHP tabled the motion until more
information was available.
The Board of Trustees, at its February, 1965, meeting,
agreed with EQV. The trustees committee on fraternities advised the
administration to seek alternative housing for EQV in a more suitable location.
At the same time, AXP undergraduates from Columbia University met secretly with Delta Sigma members
to explore that local fraternity’s joining AXP. The use of AXP undergraduates by
AXP was a transparent attempt to avoid the Wesleyan administration’s specific
prohibition against such activity by AXP. (Delta Sigma, scared off by the
ensuing administration reaction, eventually joined the Kappa Alpha Society a
Regarding EQV, the administration had another plan. In
March, 1965, it bought to site of the now-destroyed DTD house for $80,000 plus
land for a new house. While construction for that new house would begin quickly,
the Wesleyan administration announced plans for move the John Wesley Club out of
Weeks House, move EQV temporarily into the new Lawn Avenue dorms, and move DTD
into the EQV/AXP house on High Street. EQV would, eventually, be moved into the
Saraceno House which would be renovated as a full
fraternity house with eating facilities. Until then, EQV would be provided
eating facilities at a separate seating at the Alpha Delta Phi house.
The new plans managed to please no one. An Argus
editorial on the subject read in part:
Quite obviously, the Weeks House
offer did not satisfy these requirements [by the Trustees for equal or better
housing for EQV] nor does the most recent offer. EQV had expressed the desire to
remain at their present site for at least another semester; yet the
administration has evidently managed to interpret these statements as a
subconscious desire to be evicted.
In the end, EQV and DTD decided to accept the
administration’s relocation plan. Larry Duberstein (’66), President of EQV, told
the Argus that EQV’s decision was the result of a belief that its
alternate proposal had little chance of being accepted. “If it did work out that
we were able to stay at our present location for another semester, we were
afraid that the administration would now longer feel it needed to complete the
Saraceno House renovations on time.”
In September, 1965, though, the Administration withdrew its
proposal of renovating Saracen House for EQV
since the renovation was now seen to be
uneconomic. EQV moved into the dorms.
Despite the dislocations, however, EQV successfully pledged
21 freshmen that fall, the third highest among all fraternities.
In February, 1966, the administration announced that it
would move EQV from the dorms the following fall to the Weeks House. The
arrangement would not give EQV sole occupancy of the house but would allow it to
fill as many rooms as it could with its members or other students of its own
choosing. Wesleyan would fill any unused rooms. The house had a capacity of 40
At the end of April, the BHP rejected the fall return of
AXP to the campus because the little time left in the semester did not allow the
BHP to “adequately judge Chi Rho’s case.”
As the Argus article explained:
The decision came after the
presentation of a document concerning fraternity colonization by Louis Loeb,
president of EQV. Unanimously passed, this document represents the official BHP
policy on new fraternities. Since the BHP has some measure of control over which
fraternities may formally rush, Loeb stated that the board should review the
cases of all applying fraternities..
After a year in the dorms and unsatisfactory year of eating
at a separate seating at Alpha Delt, EQV was moved into the Weeks House in the
fall of 1966. The building had been removed and a full kitchen with eating
facilities had been built. AXP announced that it would soon commence renovating the house at 300 High Street.
In these years, the campus was in turmoil, like many
campuses in the country. The civil rights struggle continued, but had also moved
to the campus itself. The anti-war movement had polarized Wesleyan, occasionally
with violence. Drugs had arrived on campus; Argus issues contained
articles and letters on marijuana and LSD. The very existence of fraternities
was being questioned. In the fall of 1967, only 56.4 percent of the freshman
class pledged, the lowest percentage since the Argus began measuring it.
That decline mirrored an Argus poll 18 months earlier in which some 60%
of those polled felt that fraternities failed to make an important contribution
to Wesleyan and most of those “felt that they were actively detrimental to the
aims of the college. Indeed, 35 percent called for the abolition of fraternities
At EQV the situation was worse. The fraternity had split in
at least two groups, with a significant number who did not like the somewhat
anarchic turn that others were taking. Though EQV did conduct a freshman rush in
1967, it was, by all accounts, an extremely disorganized one. Only 9 freshmen
pledged initially, though more did later on.
In November, 1967, AXP asked the College Body Council to
hold a formal referendum of the student body on its proposed return to campus.
The referendum was never held. Instead, the Board of House Presidents voted to
recommend to the Administration that the AXP bid for readmission be denied.
It was too late. In an article in the Argus in
December, 1967, the headline read: EQV: A Non-organization Offers ‘Alternative’
Social Arrangement.” The lead paragraphs were ominous:
Can a fraternity, proclaiming
itself a non-organization, bring together enough organization to insure its
existence as an institution?
This is the question facing EQV,
at the present time. The preliminary answer would seem to be yes. The group has
managed to secure enough internal support to clean up its plant, the John Wes
Club, which enabled it to pass health inspections by the city authorities.
The long term prognosis would not
seem to be so promising as conflicting reports of disintegration and disinterest
are heard. (Spelling and grammar as in the original)
The article stated that, after two weeks of the semester,
no officer of EQV was living in the house. The fraternity quickly elected a
senior, Tom Sloane (’68), to the position of president because he was the most
senior person who did live there. In an effort to generate some badly needed
income for EQV, Sloane organized a late night diner at the house which was
quickly called “Alice’s Restaurant.”
Steve Voorhies (’71):“It didn’t
last – the idea was sound from a marketing perspective, but you still had to get
people to pay, and just because members were up all night didn’t mean they were
willing or able to work and keep the place running.”
An unnamed brother who did live there was quoted in the
“In past years, the house was very
loose-hanging but was able to galvanize itself to carry out necessary projects,
such as our rushing effort of last year or keeping the place clear.” This year,
he says, the house barely got by a second health inspection, dues are almost
impossible to collect (they amount to $40 a semester) and “as a fraternity, it’s
all washed up.”
Pat Lawler (’69), EQV’s treasurer refuted the charges from
the unnamed source as did a number of those EQV members (“not all dues-paying
members but all considered to be part of the group”)
However, as Lawler has recently written:
Obviously, the 1970 class had no
feeling of exclusivity by remaining a member, and there were few benefits. The
eating club and JWC living arrangements comprised the principal social
activities. My memory is that EQV did nothing for fall house party in 1967.
Joining the eating club and living in the house did not depend on paying dues.
The Olla Pod for 1970 provides some broader context. It reported that in
1965-1966, 80% of students belonged to fraternities. By Jan. 1970, less than 25%
did. In the fall 1966, 192 students in the class of 1970 pledged. By the fall
1969, only 96 remained active.
The Argus ended its story:
What seems to exist is a group of
individuals who want to retain the organization known as EQV for several
reasons. They are willing to accept the minimal responsibilities to keep the
organization intact. They feel they offer an alternative between fraternities
and independence and there is a place for such an alternative.
For the moment EQV is alive. But
at least one member says, and he admits he represents a minute minority, “This
is a haven for irresponsibility. It is reflected in the attitude toward
sanitation, drugs and consideration for others. I don’t want any part of it
Steve Voorhies, in his recollections, tends to support the
somewhat chaotic nature of EQV at this date, though clearly the “informal”
nature of the fraternity was a significant part of its attraction.
We arrived on campus after
listening to Sgt. Pepper all summer and reading about San Francisco and the summer of love. I was one of the 9
pledges in ’67. The trip (no pun) for prospective pledges to a park in Rhode
Island remains one of my finest memories from my time at Wesleyan. I also
enjoyed the extreme casualness of the “rush.” I remember asking one member about
the rumors of drug us, and he indirectly confirmed what I had heard. The
descriptions of irresponsible behavior were accurate, and one of the attractions
of the place.
On Monday, December 4, 1967, a fire swept through the
second floor of EQV. The arrival of the Middletown Fire Department might have
been delayed because Wesleyan had experienced a rash of false alarms throughout
the campus. Fire marshals said that the fire was caused by “careless disposal of
smoking materials,” and burned for at least an hour before an alarm was turned
in; it took three hours to put the fire out.. No one was injured, but the house
was unusable. Those living there were dispersed into a variety of living
quarters, most of the more “anarchic” ones .went to the Lawn Avenue dorms which
had a large lounge that could be used as “fraternity” space.
The future of EQV was dim indeed. An Argus editorial
at the time makes that clear.
Monday night’s fire at EQV solved
a few problems, and created others. EQV has long been hard-pressed to
successfully defend its experimental role between a fraternity and a dormitory.
Many reports have indicated that the experiment has been rapidly failing, with
few signs of possible future improvement. Drug usage, parietal violations, and
unhealthy living conditions were flourishing this fall to a point where they
could no longer be overlooked….
Many of the people associated with
EQV as members or non-member residents have been prime examples of what happens
when irresponsible students are given more freedom than they are capable of
handling. Admittedly, the situation had raged out of control and no method short
of strict regimentation could have arrested the fatalistic trend which would
probably have cut short EQV’s existence within a matter of months.
EQV now has a chance to prove
there is both the interest and the necessity for allowing it to continue as a
recognized social group. It is up to the present group to demonstrate how better
alternative living situations than the late EQV can be created.
According to the Argus, EQV officers were called to
a meeting with the Administration the following week. There is no public record
of what happened at that meeting. Nor, after this point, is there any further
mention of EQV in the Argus. In the list of fraternity pledges for the
fall of 1968, EQV is not listed.
What happened to EQV? One alumnus, Walt Samuel (’70) wrote,
“I was in Spain (at the time of the fire) but I was told that the president was
called in by [Wesleyan President] Etherington, read the riot act, and [the
fraternity] was dissolved by fiat. End discussion.”
The problem here is that, of all the members of EQV
contacted at this point, no one else knows of or has head of such a meeting,
with President Etherington or with any members of the administration. The
meeting with Dean LaCava, which must have happened, probably resulted in the
Lawn Avenue Dorm solution, at least temporarily.
However, the story that Samuel tells is a good example of
how rumor or informal information changes fact. Rumor is usually correct in
broad terms, but also usually inaccurate in specific terms.
John Lipsky (’68) who was president of EQV at the time
I was one of those who didn’t live
at the John Wesley Club. Those who did tended to be those who wanted to push the
definition of a fraternity, to find something that was both a fraternity and not
After the fire, those who wanted
continue to live together were moved to the Lawn Avenue space. Within days, the
lounge area looked like something meant to be in Haight-Ashbury. It was a mess,
with a general look of tie-died everything. If my memory serves, President
Etherington, with no advance notice, visited the area and was completely
horrified. There was no formal or informal meeting with him. I’d would remember
that. Instead, we were told by someone further down in the Administration that
there would be no further living arrangements made for EQV.
Indeed, Patrick Lawler recalls “being upset that the
Administration would not commit to rehabbing JWC by the fall of 1968.
That was not quite the end. Lawler says that after the
fire, the dispersal compounded an existing structural problem that EQV had, a
problem that went beyond any ideology or abuse of substances: Weeks House (what
John Lipsky calls the John Wesley Club) had been too big for EQV and those
non-members who had been invited to live there by EQV members had no reason to
join the fraternity since they had the advantage of housing without the
disadvantage of paying dues.
When EQV “moved” into the Lawn Avenue dorms, almost all
payment of dues ceased, and Lawler and Milton Rue (’69) were left to deal with
the EQV debts to suppliers by themselves. They managed to sell the undamaged
kitchen equipment to the University and took out a loan for the remaining $500.
In the following fall, 1968, with no solution in sight, Lawler discovered EQV
furniture being used in public areas around the University. He went to the
Administration, demanded an accounting of all furniture owned by EQV and now in
the possession of Wesleyan or he would sell the furniture to Wesleyan and use
the money to repay the loan. Wesleyan paid, and the loan was paid off.
There was now no reason for EQV to exist, no reason for
busy undergraduates to try to revive it, no place that could act as a center,
and certainly no reason for the Administration to care. EQV did not rush in
Three year later, in 1971, Alpha Chi Rho changed its
landmarks to read:
- Membership from among those who are prepared to
realize in word and deed, the Brotherhood of all men.
- The insistence on a high and clean moral standard.
- The paramount duty of Brotherly love among members.
- Judgment not by externals, but by intrinsic worth; no
one is denied membership in Alpha Chi Rho because of race, creed, or
The Esoteric Ritual was revised and the approval of all the
AXP chapters was secured in 1972. But there was no one left to care at Wesleyan.
In the summer of 1973, Wesleyan bought the former Alpha Chi
Rho fraternity house. In 1968-1969, it had been a women’s dormitory when
Wesleyan again became co-educational. Since 1971, the house had been leased from
AXP for use as the headquarters for the Romance Languages Department, as it
Looking back, it is clear that once AXP tried, with the
encouragement of the Trustees, to return to campus, EQV was doomed. It had no
long-term means of organizational stability – no assets, constant turnover of
officers, no financial stability, seemingly no active faculty advisor, and no
body of wealthy alumni to come to the rescue. After all, when the crisis began
in the mid-1960s, the EQV alumni were, at most, in their late 20s. EQV had been
a leader in societal and campus trends at its inception; the societal and campus
trends of the 1960s in which EQV clearly took enthusiastic part, militated
Says Walt Samuel:
My class was probably the first
“hippie” counterculture class, but most of us only made serious contact after
arriving at Wes. U. The class of ’71 had had a year of “intership” before
arriving. Despite our hair, beards, and clothes, most of my class and those
preceding still on campus were pretty straight at the core. There was a
playfulness that goes with novelty and experimentation in my freshmen year that
was gradually drained as the balance of the student body shifted increasingly to
nihilism and drugs – including alcohol. Also, people emerged who were intent on
exploiting the new environment.
Steve Voorhies (’71), thinking back on the end:
The members were scattered, but I
think, as with other diasporas, the spirit of the place filtered into the
Wesleyan consciousness over the next four years, and had more of an effect than
when the members were isolated in one, to me, quite magical place.