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October 20, 2010
We write to express our dismay at the appalling language loudly chanted by Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity initiates last Wednesday outside of student residences and elsewhere on campus. Yale has policies that broadly protect freedom of expression, but we also value decency and civility, and we are committed to maintaining an environment that fosters a learning community of men and women founded upon mutual respect. We will confront hateful speech when it has been uttered, and we take this opportunity do so in no uncertain terms: No member of our community should engage in such demeaning behavior.
DKE is not a Yale College organization. Nevertheless, this DKE chapter is composed of Yale students. We appreciate that the leaders of the fraternity have apologized to the Yale community, but an episode like this breaches the trust that is essential to preserving a community of free and open discourse. We call upon those responsible to reflect deeply, and to embark on a course that will heal the hurt they have caused.
The national parent organization of the fraternity has suspended all pledge activities, and its president will meet with Dean Miller this weekend and with individual members of the fraternity. Those students have already signed a pledge, committing themselves to “…the Promotion of Honorable Friendship and Useful Citizenship, the Development of a Spirit of Tolerance and Respect for the Rights and Views of Others…”. The statements made by DKE members after meeting with the Yale Women’s Center leadership provide a start toward fulfilling this important pledge.
Richard C. Levin