May 19, 2011
After public concern and criticism over a hazing event, Yale College Dean Mary Miller announced that a fraternity chapter at the university has been suspended for five years. Dean Miller hopes that the public announcement of disciplinary action will prevent future incidents of sexual harassment at the university.
According to The New York Times , 16 students and alumni filed a complaint with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) after members of the Yale Delta Kappa Epsilon chapter shouted sexist chants that encouraged rape in a residential courtyard. The spectacle was recorded and went viral on YouTube.
As the Yale Daily News reported, the complainants argued that the university violated Title IX regulations--a federal law that prohibits gender discrimination at institutions that receive federal funding--by inadequately responding to public sexual harassment, therefore, allowing for a hostile sexual environment on campus. On March 13, the complainants reported that the OCR would investigate the university's policies on sexual harassment. The Wall Street Journal estimated that if the university was found to be in violation, it could potentially lose half a billion dollars in federal funding.
On Tuesday, May 17, Dean Miller sent an email to the university community announcing that the Executive Committee, the school's disciplinary board, would take disciplinary action against the DKE chapter, reported the Yale Daily News.
"After a full hearing, the Committee found that the DKE chapter, as an organization, one comprised of Yale students, had threatened and intimidated others, in violation of the Undergraduate Regulations of Yale College as they pertain to 'harassment, coercion or intimidation' and 'imperiling the integrity and values of the University community'," wrote Dean Miller.
As a result the Yale DKE chapter is now prohibited from conducting fraternity activities, including recruiting, for a period of five years. Additionally, the chapter can no longer communicate with Yale students via the Yale bulletin boards or Yale email and will have limited use of the university's name.
Executive director of Delta Kappa Epsilon International Fraternity, Doug Lanpher, told The New York Times that the Committee's restrictions were excessive and pointed out that the chapter was put on probation after the incident occurred.
"We suspended their pledging activities for six weeks so we could review their activities with them. Clearly, the chanting was inappropriate and in poor taste, but does it warrant a five-year suspension?" he said.
The Yale Daily News, however, noted that the suspension was lifted less than one month after it had been imposed.
Complainants praised the university for taking a stance against sexual harassment and for Dean Miller's transparency regarding the Committee's decision.
"If the suspension does create a serious disturbance to the fraternity's activities, then a message will be sent that sexual harassment will not be tolerated on this campus," said complainant Alexandra Brodsky.
Compiled by Heidi M. Agustin
"Is Yale University Sexist?" online.wsj.com, April 16, 2011, Peter Berkowitz
"Miller announces DKE suspension," yaledailynews.com, May 17, 2011, Jordi Gasso
"Yale Restricts a Fraternity for Five Years," NYTimes.com, May 17, 2011, Lisa W. Foderaro