The bureaucratic and careless way in which Yale has been known to handle cases of private sexual assault on campus has certainly been overshadowed by the more attention-grabbing and headline-friendly public forms of sexual harassment — ones often carried out by Yale fraternities over the past few years. On March 15, 16 Yale students filed a formal complaint under Title IX against Yale University, and Thursday the campus was informed that the Department of Education will be investigating the University. While many on campus have voiced support, unsurprisingly not all reactions have been positive. Many students feel that so much focus on public incidents of sexual harassment, which they see as examples of “boys being boys,” takes away from what they feel is the far more pressing matter of physical sexual assault on campus. But they fail to see the connection between public acts of misogyny and private acts of violence.
This connection works in two ways. First, when Yale responds belatedly and inadequately to public acts of sexism like DKE, it sends a message to its students that sexual aggression and disrespect for women will be tolerated on this campus. Not only does this pave the way for future acts, but it also condones an attitude that is conducive to private acts of sexual violence. Do you think DKE would have chanted this fall if Zeta Psi had been disciplined for the “We Love Yale Sluts” disaster?
Secondly, Yale’s lenient and slow response to these acts mirrors its reluctance to respond with haste and appropriate force to private incidences. Yale has a tendency to hold off dealing with any such conflict by pretending to push through wads of red tape. In doing so, the University allows the media uproar to die down, just in time for the perpetrators to be let off the hook. This has been the case for the most recent public forms of sexual assault. But what many people don’t know is that this is also the way in which Yale handles private sexual assault: Yale’s slowness and bureaucracy hurts both the victim and the accused, who are made to wait for months before a verdict is reached. Apparently, Yale is more concerned with its public image than with the well-being of its students. What is important to remember, though, is that we will all benefit from OCR’s investigation.
As many students have said before, this complaint asks for Yale to re-evaluate its priorities. Only this time, the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, and hopefully the larger public, will join in the request, with the force of federal law behind them. Is asking for justice, both publicly and privately, really too much?
Adriel Saporta is a senior in Trumbull College.