Police close Pundits investigation

After an investigation into allegations of sexual assault, the Yale Police Department will not file criminal charges against any member of the Pundits, Yale’s senior prank society, for events that took place at the group’s Feb. 19 pre-tap naked party.

YPD Chief Ronnell Higgins told the News in a phone interview Friday evening that the department had concluded its criminal investigation of the party and would not be pursuing any charges in relation to the pre-tap party that sent several attendees to Yale-New Haven Hospital. Higgins said that at least one student had told police of possible sexual assault at the Pundits’ party. He also confirmed that his Feb. 28 e-mail to the Yale community about a “possible sexual assault involving Yale undergraduates that occurred at an off campus party on 2/19” was, in fact, a result of the Pundits’ party.

But even though the YPD’s investigation is over, the Yale College Dean’s office will continue its own examination as to whether hazing occurred at the party.

As a result of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity incident in October, the Yale College Dean’s office is in the midst of reviewing hazing’s role in Yale campus groups’ initiation rituals. The review includes not only fraternities, but senior societies, as well.

“I am deeply disturbed by initial reports of heavy drinking by underage students in a context that could be construed as hazing,” Yale College Dean Mary Miller said in a Mar. 2 email regarding the Pundits’ party. “Yale College does not tolerate hazing or intimidation: I’m well aware that a feature of hazing is that it can be difficult for someone victimized by it to come forward.”

Fifteen attendee interviews following the party painted a mixed picture of the evening: some said they felt victimized by events they witnessed or were asked to partake in, while others said they did not see anything they considered to be out of the ordinary, given the nature of the event.

About 50 people attended the party, which was by invitation only and hosted by the Pundits, multiple attendees said. Students were told to arrive at the party in costume, but midway through the night were told to disrobe. In addition, attendees said the party was part of the society’s tap process and took place at an off-campus home on Park Street.

One attendee, who spoke to the News on the condition of anonymity and complied with the YPD’s investigation, said a police investigator asked unprompted whether sexual misconduct had occurred at the party. The student recalled for the investigator witnessing a member of the Pundits forcing attendees to kiss each other and that one member of the society forced a male friend’s face onto another’s penis.

Higgins said he intends to release a public statement about the YPD investigation sometime this weekend.


  • es1212

    Absolutely shameful. Thanks for nothing, YPD.

  • concerned

    Dear Yalies and YPD,
    Off campus, sexual predation really is criminal and, individually, predators can expect to do jail or spend a lot of money keeping themselves out of jail. Keep changing the subject and you beg intervention via your surrounding communities’ standards. A good example, the Milford ex-superintendent of schools. Hello: times are changing.

  • mc11

    Dear ydn, fraternities and societies are not the only groups being investigated, and are certainly not the only groups with hazing like behaviors… I’ve seen ydn initiation, if the administration overlooks you then they are doing something wrong.

    Dear victims if the pundits, Take care of yourselves first, of course, but once you are on the path to recovery from this: come forwards. Their actions were disgusting and they deserve to face that in court. are you really that concerned with your standing in an organization of sexual predators?

    Dear administration, leave no stone untouched, nearly every organization at take has questionable initiation rites. Just because fraternities are classically the problem, don’t crack down unequally on them.

    dear ypd, stand up job. I’m glad you keep me and my peers safe.

  • SmokeandTruth

    Glad to hear that the Pundits can get pre-taps drunk with grain and then sexually abuse them without repercussions.

  • Standards

    Smoke and Truth:

    Glad to hear that you can make broad exaggerated claims about things that didnt happen without repercussions. Though the punch may have had grain, the alcohol they poured was provided by the attendees and largely consisted of Dubra and Smirnoff. The “sexual abuse” was rather mild if at all abusive, and was isolated to the behavior of one or two pundits who got carried away.

    Their actions are by no means excusable, but let’s please not sensationalize this? Frankly many Yale groups do worse with regards to forced drinking and sexual misconduct, let alone what happens at colleges outside of our walls.

  • eli1

    Typical. Let’s just sweep this all under the rug because it was done by the pundits, of which the women’s center, ydn, ypu, etc are all members. Like always, disciplinary action should only be taken against those evil fraternities. Obviously, those are the only places where hazing, drinking, sexual assault can possibly take place on this campus.

  • _1_Y_1_


    “Dear ydn, fraternities and societies are not the only groups being investigated, and are certainly not the only groups with hazing like behaviors… I’ve seen ydn initiation, if the administration overlooks you then they are doing something wrong.”

    Erm, YDN initiation normally consists of learning poems, eating ice-cream and Lady Gaga impersonations; I can’t imagine the hazing committee’s interested in that, idiot.

  • SmokeandTruth

    @ Standards:

    Typical bullsh*t. The punch “may” have had grain? Are you a politician? It did–and people were not told the truth. And then dubrov was forcibly poured down peoples’ throats. These are all facts. It certainly explains why 12 people ended up in the hospital at a ~50 person party. Why else would there be people wandering around half clothed and covered in vomit as they waited for ambulances?

    Also, “mild” sexual abuse is ok with Yale and the Pundits? I had no idea, sorry. If other groups do it, it must be okay for the Pundits to systematize it!

  • attila

    Eli1 is right but naive. Offenses like sexual harassment depend entirely on the do-er and the do-ee.

    For example, in the latest feminist theory, women cannot be sexual harassers. Only men can be. I am sure than in 5 minutes our crazy Dean could come up with a rationale for treating the Pundits differently.

    Of course, in the sane world, what the Pundits did is much worse. The DKEs just chanted offensive slogans. What happened at the Pundits event qualifies as assault under the law.

  • HC

    @SmokeandTruth: were you there? you seem to be very certain about what went on. and if you were there and witnessed this alleged forced drinking and nudity, why did you stay?
    I am curious about this because I don’t understand why people who object to the nudity and debauchery this group engages in would feel pressure to attend and partake in order to gain admission. This does not make logical sense, and I think many are overlooking the fact that if anyone truly did not want to participate they could have left. There was nothing forced about this, and the peer pressure argument does not hold up. Peer pressure assumes that they desperately wanted admission: but why would this be if they objected so much to their behavior? At the age of 20 or 21, I expect people should be able to stick to their principles.

  • Leah

    @HC: Whether or not people should have left the party has no bearing on whether the people there behaving inappropriately/committed abuse. I wasn’t at the party and cannot comment on the details, but, if you want to talk about principles, no one’s bad behavior is ever excused because the victim didn’t resist hard enough.

  • HC

    @Leah: agreed that bad behavior is not excused. all I’m saying is that the reporting on this incident seems to equate peer pressure with force. If I were at a party and a senior told me to make out with someone and I didn’t want to, I wouldn’t do it. And I would call that person a drunk a-hole, not a sexual abuser. No doubt it sounds like a few people got out of control at this party, but to say that sexual harassment was committed by the organization as a whole is a gross exaggeration.

    Also, the YPD probably closed the investigation because they did not have enough evidence to press charges on anyone, not that they don’t care about hazing or favor a prank society over fraternities. That’s how the legal system works, and the university is still investigating, so some justice will still be served if these allegations of hazing are true.

  • JE2011

    @HC the word going around was that if one tried to refuse some hot, hot forced kissing with strangers, the Pundits were more than happy to write something offensive like an F-minus on your naked body with a marker.

  • joan

    This isn’t The Pundits’ first naked party, but it is the first time I’ve heard any acknowledgement of the abuse of social power that seems to be institutionalized in The Pundit’s tap procedures. @Leah, OF COURSE sexual harassment can be the practice of an organization as a whole. Check the NYT for stories on a female cadet at the Air Force Academy. Or female and gay sailors on a naval vessel. Just because it isnt sanctioned doesn’t mean it isnt systemic. Not-so-well-kept secret: many juniors feel intense pressure during tap season; who talks honestly about that? It’s nonetheless true. To pretend that The Pundits (or any other senior society) and their taps are unaware of the social power wielded by societies is incredibly dishonest. It embarrasses me that The Pundits pretend that their traditional pre-tap function is “in good fun.” It’s not the only time that someone has taken perverse pleasure in the humiliation of another human being, but it’s shameful that otherwise humane and thoughtful students make sh*t up about its real aim. And it embarrasses me that Yale juniors offer themselves up for this sh*t every year.