BREAKING: DOE’s Office for Civil Rights to investigate Yale for “hostile sexual environment”

UPDATED: 7:57 p.m. The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights announced it would open an investigation of the University “for its failure to eliminate a hostile sexual environment on campus, in violation of Title IX,” according to a press release written by the complainants received Thursday afternoon by the News.

The measure comes after a formal complaint was filed by 16 Yale students and alumni on Mar. 15, informing the Office for Civil Rights about Yale’s breach of Title IX by citing a slew of “inadequate response[s]” to public episodes of sexual misconduct on campus, such as the controversial Delta Kappa Epsilon incident last fall. The complaint also condemns the University through anonymous testimonies that attest to Yale’s inappropriate approach to private instances of sexual misconduct and assault.

“After all the incidents of blatant sexual harassment and threatening behavior on Yale’s campus, why must it take an investigation by OCR to convince Yale that there is a serious problem on campus?,” the release said.

The DOE declined to comment on the case Thursday evening.

Read the full press release below, written by a subset of the 16 involved and in consultation with lawyers.

Check back for more updates.

On March 31, 2011, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced an investigation of Yale University for its failure to eliminate a hostile sexual environment on campus, in violation of Title IX. The investigation follows a complaint filed by a group of sixteen Yale students and alumni on March 15, 2011 notifying OCR of Yale’s violation of Title IX due to the University’s failure to eliminate this hostile sexual environment on campus.

The complaint recounts Yale’s inadequate response to a long trend of public sexual harassment on Yale’s campus. The most recent and egregious occurrence was on the night of October 13, 2010 when a group of Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity pledges surrounded by brothers from the same fraternity loudly chanted “No means yes! Yes means anal!” outside Old Campus, the area on Yale’s campus where most freshman women live. A band of loud men shouting threatening and pornographic language at the home of young freshman women creates a hostile environment, thereby limiting women’s equal access to educational opportunities at Yale.

Other instances of sexual harassment at Yale include the September 2009 so-called “Preseason scouting report” email in which a group of male Yale students widely circulated a list of fifty-three freshman women ranking them in order of how many beers it would take to have sex with them. On of January 16, 2008 a group of pledges from the Zeta Psi fraternity surrounded the entrance to the Yale Women’s Center at midnight holding signs bearing the message, “We Love Yale Sluts.”

The complaint also discusses Yale’s failure to appropriately address several instances of private sexual harassment and assault. Under Title IX, universities are required to provide adequate guidance and support for students who report harassment or assault. Anonymous testimonies detail the manner in which the university has failed to comply with this obligation.

The Yale students and alumni who filed the complaint with OCR believe that Yale’s failure to effectively address the October 2010 DKE incident, as well as numerous earlier incidents like it, has allowed a hostile sexual environment to persist on campus. This pervasive hostile environment has limited Yale women’s equal access to educational opportunities in violation of Title IX.

The complainants’ request that OCR investigate came after Dean of Yale College Mary Miller announced Yale’s response to the DKE incident. The University’s response was based on a report issued in December 2010 by the Task Force on Sexual Misconduct and Prevention, commissioned in the wake of the 2008 “We Love Yale Sluts” incident. This response, which was originally meant to address the “We Love Yale Sluts” incident and not the recent and more threatening DKE incident, focuses merely on developing educational programs and providing clinical services to Yale students accused of sexual misconduct. The response does not address the need for disciplinary measures, nor does it address the threatening and assaultive language used by the DKE brothers, thereby failing to adequately address the hostile environment on campus.

If OCR investigators find Yale to be out of compliance with Title IX, Yale will be required to eliminate the current hostile sexual environment on campus and institute measures to prevent incidents of sexual harassment like the DKE chanting from occurring in the future.

After all the incidents of blatant sexual harassment and threatening behavior on Yale’s campus, why must it take an investigation by OCR to convince Yale that there is a serious problem on campus?

Clarification: March 31, 2011

An earlier version of this story said that the press release was written by a subset of the 16 complainants and their lawyers. It was in fact written in consultation with lawyers; they are not currently retaining legal counsel.

Comments

  • phantomllama

    No mention of the Pundits, of course…

  • Undergrad

    Who was the press release written by? It obviously wasn’t the OCR, but there’s no mention of it in the article.

  • RachelAchs
  • JE2011

    Wtf? No mention of the pundits pre-tap molestation and vomit free-for-all?

  • RachelAchs
  • juniorgirl

    Re: people talking about the lack of mention of Pundits

    Herald has this in their article:
    “Allegations of sexual assault at an off-campus party hosted by the Pundits last month are not included in the complaint—at the time of filing there were no publicly available facts and an investigation was still pending.”

  • BringingYouTheNews
  • Goldie08

    No mention of the pundits. No mention of the university sponsored “sex week,” that, while it features talks and workshops on a variety of topics, no doubt also features events that definitely make some on this campus uncomfortable. No mention of YDN comics describing sexual acts including “spreading manure” and “role playing as cows” (see today’s comics – homo or hetero, there are some things best left unsaid and role playing as cows is one of them).

    Seems to me this is a witch hunt aimed at men, athletes, and fraternities. I agree there is a hostile sexual climate on campus, but it is a direct product of the move from romance to a hook-up culture, in which we’re all complicit – men, women, athletes, LGBQT – everyone.

  • ihaveahammer

    Goldie08, you certainly have a point about the Pundits, but as this is a Title IX issue and thus is limited to gender-based inequity, it’s natural that it’s looking at the (very real) ways in which men are making Yale hostile to women in particular.

  • ROFLCOPTER

    wow herald, congrats on breaking a story started by all of your friends on Edgewood and Dwight! really impressive feat of reporting there, you really did a great job digging into the annals of administration and New Haven. kudos for using the ydn’s comment boards to promote yourselves

  • Straight_Ignant

    Will someone please explain to me how this creates an educational discord between Men and Women? Sounds to me like a manhunt spearheaded by the Women’s center. I don’t see how some chants could possibly inhibit the learning or educational opportunities of anyone. They are words. It was shock value. it was tradition dating back to the pre-female era at Yale. Initiation is a part of fraternal brotherhood, and some hobnob, overly-sensitive, new age femi-nazism holds no right to break the traditions of one of the most historical organizations on campus.

    I recommend you go back to San Francisco, eat some wine and cheese, go to your local Pete’s coffee shop with your laptop, write some poetry, smoke some weed, and complain about the World that you don’t want to take part in.

  • JEThirteen

    @Goldie08 – Don’t drag Sex Week into this. The fact you are uncomfortable with the ‘move from romance to a hook-up culture’ has nothing to do with this suit, which alleges sexual discrimination at an institutional level. I don’t know of any events in Sex Week that in themselves promote a culture of misogyny. And if for your own reasons you dislike the activities, then you can simply choose not to participate, much as I choose to avoid congregating with Yale’s thankfully dwindling contingent of antiquated prudes.

    @Ihaveahammer – I don’t think it’s fair to say that ‘men are making Yale hostile to women in particular’. Perhaps you intended otherwise, but it sounds like a very wide-sweeping claim. Most Yalies I know, male and female alike, are fairly sensible and respectful people. I certainly don’t traipse around chanting offensively or take advantage of people, nor do most guys I know. It seems to me that there is a minority of men on campus who, whether out of true misogyny or oafish stupidity, continue to engage in offensive and predatory acts. The university, for its part, has not properly clamped down on this, and some proper sanctions (including formal police charges) would be welcome. The student body could also do a better job of showing its disapproval. If year after year DKE intends to behave as it has, then why isn’t there are general boycotting of DKE events and a shunning of those who voluntarily affiliate themselves with such a scurrilous group?

  • Straight_Ignant

    @JEThirteen — Because people realize that without DKE, Zeta, ADPhi there would be no fun. This campus would be even more irregular than it already is. They hold the social scene together, so if you don’t like it, feel free to dance with the trolls at Sig Ep and the nerds at Sig Nu.

  • SmokeandTruth

    wasn’t at least one of the people responsible for the pundits party actually IN the Womens’ Center?

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  • HighStreet2010

    Bunch of people signing inappropriate songs? SEND IN THE FEDS

    That being said, there is merit to saying that Yale covers up sexual abuses and shields students, to an extent. It certainly doesn’t want to have students thrown into prison and their names across all sorts of papers, even if that’s what is perhaps deserved for an assaulter, and so probably sweeps things under the table. However, most of these scenarios (to my quite limited knowledge) take place in situations where there is no “educational opportunity” at stake – parties and the bedroom. If Yale has to take responsibility for all sexual assault that occurs anywhere near campus and/or in any way involving a Yale student … well I guess that’s one thing, but it’s certainly not “my professor said I need to sleep with him for an A”.

    I hope that this investigation focuses on those real issues, rather than being the aforementioned witch hunt for anything offensive against Yale Women. But seeing as the complaint seeks to end a “hostile environment” of which the “most egregious occurrence” was a bunch of drunk guys signing a rude chant, I’m a little skeptical.

  • saybrook06

    Did the YDN ever follow up on how this one was resolved?:

    http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2008/may/01/sexual-harassment-case-details-emerge/

  • Leah

    @JEThirteen: Given that Sex Week tries to encompass a wide range of sexualities and practices and is meant to counter the notion that everyone should fit into a narrow model of sexual behavior, I can’t help but feel like you’re missing the point when you label the people who aren’t interested in all the explicit workshops as part of “Yale’s thankfully dwindling contingent of antiquated prudes.”

  • heatherfeather

    So much for the “best and the brightest”. Slimy League goons have the morals of skinheads.

  • ihaveahammer

    @JEThirteen, I completely agree. I meant to point out that there is a not insignificant subculture here that indulges men at the expense of women’s safety and comfort. I by no means believe that all or even most Yalies are a part of it. I’m a man and also a sexually responsible being, so I know that such a thing exists!

  • eli1

    Nothing new here. Witch hunt against athletes, fraternitites, and men in general. Funny how NO sexual assaults occurred at these events, yet the Pundits ( who include WC members) failed to be included. The WC and their ultra-radical PC bs is seriously ruining this campus. Ask the many girls who still frequent dke, ad phi, zeta, etc and I bet you will find that the vast majority of these females agree.

  • SmokeandTruth

    @Eli1: The Womens’ Center has such an incredible double-standard. Even though WOMEN were actually sexually assaulted and forced/coerced into drinking till they had to go to the hospital, they’ve kept quiet about the pundits party

  • andymac

    Another Federal agency that is ripe for elimination. There are civil or criminal statutes that cover these things. There is no need for any Federal intervention at all.

  • YesWeCon

    Hey, Dude, that’s just how we roll here @ http://www.Indoctrinate-U.com

  • dalet5770

    what is the definition of Sexual Assault in Connecticut the Home of same sex marriage & Constitution? Any man that dares speak Lesbanese :)

  • YesWeCon

    No truth to the rumor, that Alumnus Bill Clinton has requested an appointment to the Task Force.

    However, Alumnus John http://www.liveshot.cc Kerry has been contacted.

  • dalet5770

    Could anything in this tripe be more far from the truth – Yale a mens college – finds itself defending it’s territory in a country that women out-number men,have a longer life span and a greater sexual capacity well into middle age now claiming they are somehow an endangered species. What about the other 100 or so womens colleges – was there not enough room for all the denominations

  • student1776

    These sanctimonious prigs will not be satisfied until all men have a compulsory estrogen implant and required anti-testosterone therapy. I hate to tell them but use of expletives is a part of normal male behavior. This politically correct claptrap is part of the criminalization of normal male activity that now starts in elementary school and continues through college – producing ever prissier and weak softie males with each passing year.

  • student1776

    This harassment of men comes from the same mentality that immediately believed the trumped up charges against the Duke LaCrosse players.

  • The Anti-Yale

    “Seems to me this is a witch hunt aimed at men, athletes, and fraternities. I agree there is a hostile sexual climate on campus, but it is a direct product of the move from romance to a hook-up culture”

    Witch hunt?

    Do parades of FEMALE undergraduates march outside Yale dorms with males inside chanting “No means Yes. Yes means defile me?”

    The “move from romance to hook-up culture?

    Bologna.

    This “move” is a 50 year old tectonic shift which began with Happy Loman in “Death of a Salesman” and Ward Stradlater in “The Catcher in the Rye” in 1949, HALF A CENTURY AGO, even before your parents were BORN.

    Romance atrophied long ago——– the hook-up culture is simply the remaining vestigial appendage remaining, hanging impotently in the winds of cultural collapse.

  • Quals

    Our tax dollars at work.

  • rjligier

    The years are correct, Kinsey’s “Sexual Behavior of the [neurotic] Male and Female”, 1947 and 1952, respectively, and the subsequent revision of the ALIMPC in 1955 based on the aforementioned fraudulent and fallacious research.

  • yalestudent

    To all of the people who are commenting to the effect that this is a witch hunt against men/athletes/frats or that these incidents shouldn’t be taken seriously because “boys will be boys”:

    Your comments are embarrassing, ignorant, and shameful. Your defensiveness is showing, and it doesn’t make your arguments any more convincing.

  • SmokeandTruth

    @Yalestudent: Some of us are upset because it appears to be a witchhunt against frats/men due to the fact that the Yale Womens’ Center pursues action based off of things like the DKE chant, but completely IGNORED actual sexual assault on campus done by the pundits (which have WC members). The very definition of “hostile sexual environment”.

  • AdrielSaporta
  • OMG_GEORGEHARRISisAWESOME

    But like OMG I saw George Harris walking to class today!! He has the body of a God and the face of an angel. I can’t wait for the day he says hi to me. I’ll be able to die happy :) I bet he’s so romantic, hehe.

  • YesWeCon

    I am shocked!! SHOCKED I SAY, at such boorish behavior on the part of these young men. Oh, the HAMANITY!!

    When, will we progress as a nation, to the point where we can all join hands and sing kumbaya on a daily basis?

    None of us, should be subjected to any form of speech and or acts, that we find offensive/objectionable.

    And yes, Utopia is what I seek, human nature be damned. For I am a Proud Progressive. http://www.amren.com

  • menckenlite

    Here are the priorities of the US Government. Yale women are offended. A court or some PC lawyer will decide that. Why does this merit the attention of the US government ahead of a large group of non Ivy League citizens who are denied basic rights, like access to the courts, access to public accommodations? The Yale students filed complaints anonymously. Isn’t that special? Every day in most main stream newspapers journalists write that a man or woman with a history of mental illness is charged with this or that crime. It reinforces the pervasive negative stereotype of persons accused of mental illness. It is easier to accuse a person of that than it is to file an anonymous complaint with the Department of Justice or Education. But aside from persons accused of mental illness, there is a large group of US citizens who are unable to use the public sidewalks after snowstorms. But the US Department of Civil Rights is never interested in that. This verifies my observation that the people who exploit discrimination laws are upper class, wealthy and politically connected elitists. Recently a group of Harvard and Yale alumni complained about a party at a bar in Boston which shut down early due to fears of violence. The MA Attorney General and the Boston City Council took up the matter. People are denied basic rights to be heard in courts due to unlawful discrimination of the judge and lawyers. That remains unaddressed by the very same Attorney General and the same US Department of Justice and the same City Council. Here is one, only one example of the double standard of the government, the sheer hypocrisy of these upper class elitist pigs. They indicate that they have no shame, just like the politicians who run the state and US legislatures, and executive branches.

  • rob_capelli

    This column is newsworthy? Give me a break. Obama starts a war, goes on vacation, gives Brazil a couple of Billion to drill, stymies the U.S. from drilling, goes to G’town, gives a speach to students and incites the young politacal minds. He’s a politacal genious. But that’s all he is. Not a leader, unless you adhere to socialiasm.

  • graduate_student

    The comments here are frackin’ hilarious.

  • YesWeCon

    42 years ago this July, a U.S. Senator drove off a bridge and left his female passenger to suffocate to death in an air-pocket, without going for help.

    His punishment? A fine. Why? He was member of the democrat party, ya know, the party of compassion and hope. And he was a member of the sainted Kennedy family.

    Now, these same democrats, who heralded http://www.FATBOY.cc as their “Liberal Lion” for decades, are the enforcers of a Speech Code.

    That’s Justice…Progressive Style.

  • Madas

    About time we investigated the sexists at the womens’ center! Sigh, if only… The worst part about the whole thing is that, if anything, the campus is far friendlier to women than men. Speaking of discrimination, how many opportunties are available only to women here? Where is the men’s center again?

  • Steve777

    You can’t get in the news when GB2, your star alum, pulls off 911, but a few sex slurs, DRUDGE. Bingo. Go ladies!

  • RealRick

    How else could the frat boys get laid?

  • Inigo_Montoya

    Best YDN comment thread since James Franco’s twitter.

  • Blogo99

    This is what happens when you let in so much legacy trash. The message that Yale sends to legacy admits is that they’re entitled by birth and that the rules don’t apply to them. Is it any wonder they go around campus acting afool and disrespecting the masses who they consider to be beneath them?

    Nice job Yale. Keep undermining your credibility. Clearly, you’re untouchable because you’re Yale.

  • tedmosby

    What the hell does this have to do with legacies?

  • IMaTELLaU

    All the frat boys have to do is tell the DOE that the girls were Conservative, then all will be well. It works for bill mahr, kathy griffin, msnbc, abc, bloggers, huff puff, demoncrats, and the obama admin.

  • GozieBoy

    No wonder these Ivy League schools generate such preying sexual perverts, like Al “Rub Me LOWER” Gore.

  • fightintheshade

    Whatever happened to “moral subjectivity” and that tried and tested mantra of secular humanism “there is no moral absolutes”? These Yale whiners pay lip service to their secularist dogma then abandon it when they’ve had “their feelings hurt”. Time they grew up and bravely embraced their nihilism.

  • sep092

    Oh, for heaven’s sake.

    Doesn’t the Office for Civil Rights have anything better to do? Let’s not blow this out of proportion– it’s a bunch of crass, drunk, jerky, socially-inept guys. They do NOT speak for the Yale male population as a whole, or do they have any sway on public opinion on campus.

    This is not indicative of systematic sexism, and the women’s center needs to get over itself. The guys in DKE just suck. Everyone knows that.

    Also: does anyone really think that this incident sets Yale apart? Don’t you think comparable things happen at ALL colleges? I’m not arguing that the sexual environment at Yale is a positive one, just that it exists at colleges at large, not just Yale.

  • PierceHarlan

    Another puerile, ritualistic gender passion play at an Ivy League campus, staged by the chronically offended purveyors of misandry who insist on dominating the public discourse on all things gender.

    So what else is new?

    For the past four decades, women’s activists have insisted that our mass media portray women not as helpless pawns or victims but as doers who can throw punches, kick male butt, crush testicles, and overwhelm evil just like the guys.

    So, what message do the chronically offended gender feminists at Yale send to the world? That a little mindless fratboy activity — and take a deep breath, that’s all it was — is enough to cause not just disapproval but conniptions. It warrants not just a rebuke, but the aid of the cavalry.

    The message they send is a self-defeating one: that women are powerless, in need of special protections to shield them from the slightest, most trivial offense. With this, they do all women a grave disservice — because women can’t be empowered by insisting they are powerless.

  • Goldie08

    I think the university response to the incidents cited in the report was measured and showed thought. I won’t deny that misogyny is a growing problem in our society – I don’t like it. Stupid men (DKE, creeps at bars, men that hit their wives/girlfriends) are giving all men a bad name – I hate being stereotyped. But this problem isn’t unique to Yale. The university, in its response, wrote that “[s]exual violence and harassment on our campus reveal patterns of thought and behavior that extend far beyond Yale” and proposing “discussion and reflection” as the key to resolving issues of sexual safety.”

    Improving the treatment and equal opportunity afforded women throughout the world is one of the great tasks facing our generation. It will require “discussion and reflection” and yes, appropriate action. There are many culpable for “yale sluts” “no means yes” etc. I recognize the trend, but I can certainly not profess to know why. The pessimist in me wants to believe that this is indicative of some greater social malaise that is behind poor education, our collapsing economy, the violence we’ve seen in the street yet I also believe it is not as bad as we are led to believe. It is Yale – we are talking about a few bad apples out of an entire university. It will be much worse in the real world.

  • YesWeCon

    Sounds as though some are resisting the teachings @ http://www.Indoctrinate-U.com

  • pickle

    @ JEThirteen
    “I don’t think it’s fair to say that ‘men are making Yale hostile to women in particular’.”
    Men are making the “world” hostile to women in particular, whether individually or collectively culturally.

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