Despite forum, DKE reprimanded

In a statement posted on their website Sunday night, Delta Kappa Epsilon International Fraternity Board of Directors instructed the Yale chapter of DKE to stop all pledge activities until further notice in the wake of their controversial chants on Old Campus last Wednesday.

The statement comes on the heels of a forum Friday afternoon in Linsly-Chittenden Hall titled “Forum on Yale’s Sexual Climate” at which Yale administrators and current members of the Women’s Center board said DKE’s apology Thursday is the first step in a long process of dialogue and systemic change. The forum attracted an audience of about 150, which split up into 15 smaller “breakout” sessions to discuss the DKE incident and possible courses of action. To help determine “a plan of action for the chapter,” DKE Executive Director Doug Lanpher will visit Yale this weekend to discuss the pledge incident with the fraternity. In an e-mail to the News, Lanpher said that DKE national’s intervention means that the Yale chapter cannot accept new pledges and that it must cease all initiation activities.

DKE International also commended the forum in its statement as “a good step in acknowledging the seriousness of this incident,” as did Yale College Dean Mary Miller GRD ’81 in her opening remarks at the forum.

“I think by coming here today, you are saying that this is the ignorant speech we all seem to get beyond,” Miller said.

Melanie Boyd ’90, director of undergraduate studies for Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and special adviser on gender issues for both the Women’s Center and the Dean’s Office, helped organize this event. Boyd said the event was successful in bringing students from different backgrounds together in a serious conversation about the incident.

Boyd also took part in a breakout session with about 15 Yale administrators, including residential college deans and masters and members of the Dean’s Office. Their discussion, Boyd said, focused on developing strategies to combat sexual misconduct and how to respond to episodes such as DKE’s inflammatory pledge ritual, where they chanted lyrics condemned as sexually violent and misogynistic by the Women’s Center and members of the Yale community.

Six members of DKE could not be reached for comment Sunday, while DKE President Jordan Forney ’11 referred the News back to DKE International’s statement in an e-mail Sunday night. In a speech at the panel Friday, Forney acknowledged that DKE’s actions were inappropriate and referred to the event as “a serious lapse of judgment.” At an initiation event on Old Campus last Thursday, blindfolded DKE pledges shouted phrases such as “No means yes, yes means anal” and “My name is Jack, I’m a necrophiliac, I f— dead women.”

“The incident was not only offensive but it was completely uncalled for and unacceptable,” he said, insisting that the episode was not representative of DKE or its brothers.

Opinions from past and present members of the Women’s Center board on how to interpret the fraternity’s apology vary.

Chase Olivarius-McAllister ’10, former political action coordinator for the Women’s Center, said in an e-mail Sunday that DKE’s apology is “pathetic” and that DKE has always been a “male-supremacist” organization.

“It is a matter of months before they vacuum other young boys into their misogynist ponzi scheme,” she added.

In an official statement sent to the News Saturday, current members of the Women’s Center board said DKE’s apology “can only be the beginning of their efforts” to create what the fraternity called “positive and meaningful” change in a Friday opinion column in the News.

Reactions around campus regarding the DKE’s apology were similarly mixed.

Ajla Porca ’14 said she was not offended by the chant, adding that she thought the only reason DKE apologized was because they were criticized for their actions.

But Undergraduate Organizing Committee member Katie Harrison ’11 said the incident reinforces her feeling that many students are “going along with things that they don’t believe in and wouldn’t do on their own.” Three other students echoed this view, saying that the DKE pledge ritual forced students to say things that they would not say on their own. Still, Harrison said she appreciated the fraternity’s apology.

Six out of 11 students interviewed said they were offended by the DKE pledges’ chant. Three other students said they thought DKE pledges were wrong in their actions, but added that they were not offended.

According to a poll on the News’ website, 71 percent of 397 users said they were offended by DKE’s actions as of press time.

Three upperclassmen recalled the January 2008 incident in which Zeta Psi fraternity pledges held a sign that read “We Love Yale Sluts” outside the Women’s Center. In light of the Zeta Psi episode, Harrison said she perceived the DKE chant as an “intentional provocation.” She added that she was particularly offended by the violence that she said the chants seemed to celebrate.

Will Feldman ’14 said that, while the pledges were wrong to say what they said, he would have ignored them if he had walked by the chant.

“People like to overreact to things like this, but it’s not a big deal,” Feldman said. “The point was for them to act like jackasses.”

It is unclear if individuals implicated in the chanting will face discipline. In her letter, Miller said such matters are confidential at Yale as required by University regulations and federal law. Boyd said she expects disciplinary action to remain a subject of interest to the Yale community in coming weeks.

“I wouldn’t say the question of disciplinary action has disappeared from the conversation,” Boyd said.

Since the forum, the Women’s Center said the fraternity has committed to work with them in the future, and will send some of their brothers to a Women’s Center workshop on sexual violence next month. Their respective boards will meet later this week to make further plans. Together with the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, the Women’s Center will also hold a sexual violence workshop Nov. 14, which was in the works before the DKE incident took place.

The first DKE chapter was founded in 1844 at Yale College, and it is the only fraternity on campus that has never gone inactive.

Comments

  • richard

    “ponzi sheme”? Imputation of criminal conduct is per se defamation in CT.

  • Yale12

    Of course it’s a man that says we’re “overreacting.” It’s pretty easy to ignore the chants when they’re not about you…

  • tonykez

    Yale admission office needs to reevaluate its admission requirement. Diversity is important, however, character, sound judgment, maturity, and moral values are crucial to Yale institution. The only way to resolve this issue is to **expel the students who orchestrated this barbaric act of crime**. I do have a son attending Yale, and as a father, I would withdraw him from any college, if he would have acted in this manner. This is not acceptable.

  • FailBoat

    > Of course it’s a man that says we’re “overreacting.” It’s pretty easy to ignore the chants when they’re not about you…

    Comments like **this** are why the Yale Women’s Center doesn’t have more supporters.

  • wtf

    I agree with tonykez. These goons only make the rest of us look bad, the ones who actually had to be smart to get in.

  • Veritas

    @tonykez: I’m sure your son is happy to have a father who cares so much about him.

    @Yale12: Instead of prejudiciously dismissing the comment, maybe you should take some time to consider from where he’s coming.

  • SY10

    @Veritas: I hope my father, and all other fathers, feel the same way tonykez does. Caring about one’s son means teaching him to be a decent human being, who treats all other people with respect, regardless of their sex. Any good parent would make sure that there are consequences for failing to live up to that standard.

  • Athlete

    Not surprising that the comments on this article digress towards the general IQ of those involved-

    @wtf- get over yourself- everyone here had a reason(s) to get into Yale- dont be so arrogant and ignorant to think that you are smarter than anyone else here- you’d be very surprised at those who you would least suspect…

  • FailBoat

    > I agree with tonykez. These goons only make the rest of us look bad, the ones who actually had to be smart to get in.

    I know many DKE brothers who are not athletes.

  • Yale12

    @ Veritas: I know where he’s coming from. He’s coming from the point of view of a man.

    FailBoat, please explain, what’s wrong with my comment? As a white person, I think it would be pretty insensitive for me to talk about how easy it was to ignore a series of racist comments, and how I wish black people would just stop overreacting. I think it’s equally insensitive for men to talk about how easy it is for them to ignore sexism.

  • FailBoat

    > FailBoat, please explain, what’s wrong with my comment? As a white person, I think it would be pretty insensitive for me to talk about how easy it was to ignore a series of racist comments, and how I wish black people would just stop overreacting.

    As a non-white person, I think white people can talk credibly on race.

  • penny_lane

    I’m a pretty radical feminist, and although I would have chosen different words, I agree that DKE is a “male-supremacist organization.” Nevertheless, even I have to say that calling their apology “pathetic” undermines any progress we might hope to make in terms of changing the aspects of their behavior that are harmful. Anyone with even passing knowledge of social learning theory knows that if you hope to change someone’s behavior, your best tool is positive reinforcement; that is, you must clearly state your expectations at the outset and praise any attempt to comply. Berating a group for actions they’ve already apologized for is stupid and reduces the likelihood that we’ll see any genuine change in this arena.

    As a woman who has taken her share of crap from men who think rape and harassment are funny, I have to say I genuinely appreciate the apology, even if they only made it because there was an outcry. That’s how it works with apologies: if you want one, you almost always have to ask.

  • wtf

    @Failboat: First of all, I did not direct my comment at athletes. I directed it at the “goons” of DKE. You connected it to athletes, which is a sizeable but not complete portion of the fraternity. I do not wish to have the name of the university that I attend, and thus my name, represented in such a way because it also makes me look bad. As one of the commentors above stated, we are all affiliated with Yale and so we are all affiliated with the actions of Yale’s DKE chapter.

    However, for those DKE “brothers” who are athletes:

    The academic standards for athletes are significantly more lax than non-athletes (pun intended). I speak only about those athletes who are actually recruited, not those who decide to compete AFTER being accepted with the regular applicant pool, like the cross country runner who is a freshman this year (I forget his name).

    The standards are easier because the admissions committee recognizes that the individual will be able to contribute to the Yale name in a way OUTSIDE OF the classroom. Thus, how they perform within the classroom becomes less important. You cannot identify yourself as a recruited athlete without tacitly recognizing this.

    I’m not saying they don’t deserve to be here, but they are not primarily here to be students. They are here to be athletes, otherwise they would not have needed to be recruited to get in.

  • penny_lane

    WTF- Give recruits a break. Some of them are morons, yes, but there are also some morons here who weren’t athletic recruits. And honestly, Yale was my top choice. I spent days and nights dreaming of studying literature here and I still count the day I got in as one of the best in my life. If I had had some sick athletic talent that could have guaranteed me a spot studying literature here, you can bet I would have jumped on that. I think we can all at least dimly remember the sentiment.

  • Yale12

    FailBoat: How do you not see the straw man in your post? The assertion that white people can talk legitimately on race has absolutely nothing to do with what I said.

    I don’t believe that men cannot talk credibly about gender; neither do I believe that white people can not talk credibly about race. I do believe that with regards to the specific issue of what is “overreacting” to racism or sexism, the judgment is not up to people who are not implicated. If you cannot feel the impact of the comment, you cannot decide what is overreacting and what is not.

  • MohawkMonk87

    Well, for the sake of being open about bias, I’m not a big fan of post-suffrage feminism. However, it seems pretty obvious the Women’s Center is actually right about this one, DKE (and frats generally) are basically campus centers of violence against women.

    So, rather than wasting our time bickering over who has the right to be offended and how offended said parties should be, perhaps it would be more profitable to question…

    Why do ANY women attend parties hosted by said groups?.. No, really, I’d like an answer. I mean DKE and co. have been pretty obvious about their attitudes towards women and yet women still associate with these groups (thus, unfortunately, partially validating their vulgar views).

    I blame a liberal sexual culture. The genders assume they are at war with each other because no one at this school knows how to have a healthy relationship anymore.

  • anotherY10

    So that makes at least two DKE chapters currently suspended by the national headquarters for issues around sexual violence. http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2010/10/delta_kappa_eps.php

    @MohawkMonk87

    > I blame a liberal sexual culture

    Yes, that’s fair. That’s why groups of women still go to these parties. But that doesn’t mean every individual woman at a DKE party is there for a hook-up. Rather, because of our crappy hook-up culture, DKE parties become “the place to go on Saturday night” with your group, whether you actually want to or not – and freshmen are often most insecure about breaking out of a group (whether they’re girls or, as we’ve seen, DKE pledges)

  • newelirent

    Let’s stop excusing truly outrageous behavior as innocent immaturity. These are young adult men . . . not little boys. I think it’s reasonable for their actions to be noted on their Yale transcript. Let future employers know exactly what sort of individual they are considering. As far as being “forced” or “coerced” into acting this way . . . didn’t you hear that little voice in your head say, “This is a really bad idea. If my DKE brothers think it’s okay, then maybe I should rethink pledging with these morons”. I have a freshman daughter at Yale and I am furious. No DKE from Yale will be welcome in our house.

  • newelirent

    BTW, here’s a general rule of behavior the existing DKE brothers and pledges might want to consider. If you wouldn’t dress up, go out in the dark at night, and cowardly threaten women by yourself . . . then it’s probably even worse to try it as a group. This should be a “one strike you’re out” issue . . . shut DKE down on the Yale campus for a year or two and try it again at some time in the future with a more mature group of young men.

  • blockw1652

    Is Yale going to do something about this occurance or just sweep it under the carpet like the last one?

    http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2008/jan/22/womens-center-calls-zeta-psis-behavior-inexcusable/

  • Stanford

    Ummm. What they Women’s Center wrote in response was way more offensive than the Zeta Psi’s picture. This was YWC’s hypothetical…

    They pose. A picture is taken.
    The building: the Af-Am house. The sign: “WE LOVE YALE N-GGERS.”
    If this happened, would an apology suffice?

    Pretty racist to compare being called a “slut” with being called a “N-gger”

  • outside

    For those who were nonplussed by these chants (and I suspect that among the students there are more such than have spoken up), let me urge you to consider a frightening aspect of today’s sexual culture which I believe is connected to DKE’s apparent belief that they would get away with this.

    In today’s sex-positivity, it is okay to be publicly sexual; it is okay to publicly have one-night stands; it is okay to have sex for sex’s sake, and therefore to act on urges rather than emotions; and it is okay to have fetishes, and to act upon them. All of that represents progress. But there is a price. Fraternity party sexual exploitation seeks validation in terms of fetishes (she gets off on submission, or on public humiliation, etc) when in truth it’s just the same old coercion. There is a raging market for pornography in the form of real-life videos with descriptive titles like “Frat Party Gangbang” and “College freshman takes facials from four older guys.”

    I don’t want to sound a note of hysteria. Naturally, many such “real-life” videos are no such thing, and I do not wish to suggest that every fraternity is home to such activity. And I also don’t know, in the case of DKE, whether the chants correspond to any actual behavior. But it’s clear that, in some pockets of our culture, the healthy freedom of the sexual impulse is being abused and distorted for the purposes of exploitative, unethical, and ultimately very old-fashioned behavior. Let’s watch out, lest the more things change, the more they stay the same.

  • penny_lane

    Stanford:

    On the contrary, I would say that suggesting that calling someone a slut isn’t as big a deal as calling someone a n-gger is pretty sexist.

  • Thinks2010

    To the gentleman who chose to ignore the DKE pledges and simply walk by, I’d like to suggest that there are times when it is better to make you disapproval heard. Logic would indicate that misogynists are unlikely to heed women who speak out against this kind of behavior. The disapproval of good men might get their attention and hasten the day when the evils of misogyny disappear.

  • River Tam

    > On the contrary, I would say that suggesting that calling someone a slut isn’t as big a deal as calling someone a n-gger is pretty sexist.

    No, it’s just a fact. One is common in PG-13 movies. The other is an automatic R rating and a call from Jesse Jackson if said in the wrong tone.

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