October 15th, 2010

talent, pencil

Telling Yale to do the right thing

rimrunner tipped me off to this rather mindboggling news piece about fraternity rush activities on the Yale campus that included chants about rape and necrophilia: http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2010/oct/14/yale-frat-antics-spark-controversy/

While I don't remember anything like this happening while I was an undergrad at Yale, it wouldn't have entirely surprised me if it had. Delta Kappa Epsilon certainly had an unsavory reputation.

What does surprise me is the tepid response of the university administration so far. So I just sent the following email to Yale President Richard Levin (presidents.office@yale.edu) and Dean Mary Miller (mary.miller@yale.edu).

I was disturbed to read new of misogynistic chants used as part of rush activities by the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity on the Yale campus. (http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2010/oct/14/yale-frat-antics-spark-controversy/)

I urge you to take disciplinary action against the fraternity, and particularly against those members responsible for coordinating rush activities. While I'm glad that the fraternity has swiftly apologized, this is not the first time DKE has used such chants. Yale needs to demonstrate that there are consequences for organizations that engage in behavior that creates a hostile environment for women on campus.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Wendy A. Shaffer
Yale Class of 1996

I would encourage other Yalies reading this to let Levin and Miller know what you think about this.
pondering, bowie


I received a response from Mary Miller to the email I posted about earlier. I'm not sure how I feel about it - she said some things that pleased me, and some things that pushed some negative hot buttons. I'll read it again before I really know how I feel.

However, Ms. Miller did say one thing that possibly puts a different light on the university's apparent inaction: she said that university disciplinary proceedings were, as required by university policy and Federal law, confidential.

Which means that the university could be throwing the book at these students, or could be letting them off with a slap on the wrist. And we'd never know.

And I suppose I understand the reasons why disciplinary proceedings are confidential, and I certainly wouldn't want Yale to break Federal law. But I'm frustrated, because I'm really not sure that I feel that the university's response has been adequate. It's great that the community has "opened a dialogue" about sexual harassment, as Miller said in her email. But if these jerks had marched past my bedroom window when I was a Yale freshman, I'd have been interested in dialogue, sure, but I'd also have been interested in making sure that it didn't happen again. And the silence around the disciplinary proceedings, however necessary, is going to make it seem like it will happen again, because any consequences will be invisible.