University responds to Title IX complaint

UDPATED: 7:44 p.m. In an official University statement sent in an e-mail to the News Friday afternoon, University spokesman Tom Conroy said administrators had been verbally briefed by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights about its investigation into a potential breach of Title IX requirements.

A group of 16 students and alumni filed a complaint last month accusing Yale of inadequately responding to instances of sexual misconduct in recent years and fostering a hostile environment toward women on campus.

“We have not yet received a copy of the complaint, and we therefore are not able to comment on it at this time,” Conroy said, adding that Yale officials plan to respond to the Office for Civil Rights’ inquiries.

Read below for the full text of the statement:

Yale has been notified verbally by the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education that the Office intends to begin an investigation of a complaint filed by a group of current and former students, alleging that Yale has not responded sufficiently to incidents involving denigrating behavior toward women, and thereby has violated Title IX requirements to provide equal educational opportunities to both women and men.

We have not yet received a copy of the complaint, and we therefore are not able to comment on it at this time. The University has initiated a number of programs in recent years as part of its continuing effort to respond effectively and appropriately to incidents of sexual misconduct and harassment. We will respond fully to the Office of Civil Rights inquiries. We assure members of the community and those beyond our community that Yale does not tolerate sexual harassment or misconduct.

In an e-mail sent to members of the Yale community Friday night, Yale College Dean Mary Miller echoed Conroy’s statement, and also cited several measures taken by the University toward correcting sexual misconduct on campus.

“Yale is notable, in fact, for the extraordinary number and range of initiatives, programs of study, working groups, faculty and student organizations, and administrative offices devoted to the advancement of women and women’s issues.” she said.

When “questionable incidents” have occurred, Miller added, the University has use its available resources to determine suitable responses and disciplinary action where warranted.

Miller referred to a number of ways in which administrators and faculty have handled the private and public instances of sexual harassment identified in the Title IX complaint, including the Provost’s Sexual Misconduct Committee report, the Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Education and Prevention report, the Committee on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Prevention Education (SHAPE) report and the Committee on Hazing and Initiations.

For her own part, Miller said, while the issue affects all Yalies, it also holds a “special significance” to her, particularly in the context of her duties as a dean.

“Ever since I was among the first women students to co-educate my own undergraduate institution, I have sought to champion the rights of women in all ranks and departments of the University,” she said. “Indeed, one of my motives in accepting the position of Dean of Yale College was to have the opportunity to carry the message of equity to an even wider audience.”

The Committee on Hazing and Initiations is currently working on its recommendations.

Comments

  • dalet5770

    What Yale Did not say is that they tolerate Bullying – Women outnumber men in our society, have longer life spans, are sexually potent well into middle age and are now acting as if they are an endangered species. Are the men of Yale to be treated as if they are some type of disobedient Bulldog that needs to be paper trained.

  • The Anti-Yale

    This is a minefield of perception disabilities.

  • penny_lane

    “Yale does not tolerate sexual harassment or misconduct.”

    Lies.

  • Jaymin

    I agree sexual harassment still happens at Yale, but what else do you want the university to actually do? Personally chaperone each of us to parties to make sure we behave? They convene committees and task forces every other week, they make us now go to sexual harassment meetings for organizations, and so on and so on.

  • alum

    so much significance given to a chant. next time you’re at a sporting event and the crowd chants “we’re better than you” or “harvard sucks”, watch out, you could have a controversy on your hands.

    seriously, there are so many more important stories to be covered in the news.

    some guys objectify women and some women dress and act to be objectified. simple as that.

    freedom of speech. ignore what you don’t like. if harmful words lead to potential harmful behavior than you have a legitimate complaint.

  • Leah

    Jaymin, I agree a lot of the workshops/committees/training sessions are mostly pointless. I’d like to see Yale stop steering rape/harassment victims away from making a legal complaint and pressure them to resolve the crime in house.

  • 201Y1

    @Jaymin: The idea is not that Yale can PREVENT this stuff, but rather respond more seriously when it does happen. You know, excom the perps even if a rape case doesn’t go to court, actually axe a frat or two, etc.

  • yalie13

    This is ridiculous. Suing doesn’t solve anything.

  • ah_ha

    ha! Interesting way to decontextualize the situation alum. NOT!

  • townieexprof

    Yalie 13 sez: “This is ridiculous. Suing doesn’t solve anything.”

    I say: Brown v Board of Education

    for starters

  • dalet5770

    The women must talk amongst themselves and make a hasty retreat to the 100 or so female colleges and return the status of Yale to a mens college -That would ensure dignity to the oldest mens college in America

  • dalet5770

    Or should we have a debate on the merit of having a eunich as a mascot

  • PuzzledProspective

    Not only the environment but many of the responses are disturbing. And it’s not about the occasional undergraduate misogynist; it’s the institutional response. Typical is this excerpt from above:

    “Dean Miller referred to a number of ways in which administrators and faculty have handled the
    private and public instances of sexual harassment identified in the Title IX complaint, including the
    Provost’s Sexual Misconduct Committee report, the Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Education
    and Prevention report, the Committee on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Prevention
    Education (SHAPE) report and the Committee on Hazing and Initiations.”

    When a dean response merely enumerates the reports that have been filed and the committees that have been formed, this translates pretty directly as “We have taken no real action.” If perpetrators had been expelled or a frat had been closed, she would have said so. This is way out of step with other college environments. Good luck to the OCR.

  • emresoner

    Dude, where’s my post calling for reforming the Women’s Center?

  • dalet5770

    Don’t you love it when women use terms like misogynist – I for one know that women love a great massage – yes everyone loves to massage their message

  • Skeptic

    The general approach at Yale has been to let the individual who feels that he/she is/has been the target of sexual misconduct be, to the maximum extent possible, in control of the way the matter is handled. I know this is not the widespread perception, but having seen this process from several angles over many years at Yale, I believe it works that way in almost all cases. There are multiple pathways that a complainant can use, at her/his choice. Some are more public (the legal system), some are more private, but still rather open (the Yale College Executive Committee aka “Excomm”), and others are quite confidential (the Sexual Harassment Grievance Board). The principle here has been to put the alleged victim in control as much as possible, while still preserving fairness to the accused. This balancing of the sensitivity to the complainant and fairness to the accused is a vexed problem in such cases, but their inherent difficulties do not warrant our failure to try. While it is no doubt true that genuine acts of sexual harassment/assault go unpunished, it is also true that the reason for this failure is often the unwillingness of the victim to undergo steps in the various pathways that are necessary to determine the validity of the complaint, a fundamental aspect of our generally agreed upon principle of presumption of innocence. These are not easy problems….

  • yalie13

    @townieexprof

    This isn’t like Brown v Board of Education by any stretch of the imagination. Sensationalizing it that way is damaging. There are fundamental issues that need to be addressed, but this silly law suit in the end does little but hurt Yale students when Yale’s federal funding decreases or the Yale population gets smeared as a chauvinistic group of people as dastardly as the racists who segregated public schools.

    The gender problems at Yale are no worse than the gender problems in any other part of the country, and becoming lawsuit-happy in this manner doesn’t address them in the right way.

    But hey, if you think this is going to go down in the history books the same way Brown v Board of Education has, then that’s your choice.

  • The Anti-Yale

    “The gender problems at Yale are no worse than the gender problems in any other part of the country”

    This sentence is analagous to saying in 1864 that ” the slavery problems in South Carolina are no worse than the slavery problems in any of the part of the Confederacy.’

    The “problem” is the problem.

    Yale (the best of the best) is emblematic and perhaps symbolic of the universality of the problem.

    PK

    PS

    I won’t even address Yalie13’s use of the typically masculine tactic of using a trivializing term like “silly” to describe human degradation.

  • jnewsham

    Yeah, rape happens everywhere and a chauvinistic atmosphere is a fact of life! Deal with it! [/sarcasm]

  • justathought

    this is a bottom up, not top-down problem, and I wish I had seen these ladies launch some massive on-campus outreach programs targeting their fellow Yalies. there are mentions of trying to work through the university over and over, but how about with the students?

    maybe they tried and were unsuccessful, but that right there goes back to my original point… I’m not trying to pretend I know the details of these cases, but if half the student body still thinks this was a terrible idea, I don’t know how good a course of action it was, regardless of who’s “right.”

    just a thought.

  • john47

    get rid of women only govt programs

  • yalie13

    Hey jnewsham, you’re right. That’s precisely what I was saying, but I guess I see I was wrong now. I didn’t realize I was promoting rape, but hey, let’s take your approach and Title IX every educational institution and not have an intelligent conversation about how we can work together to fix this problem.

    And I see the anti-yale is spot on with comparing gender issues at yale with slavery. No exaggeration there either.

    But seriously, gender issues are not silly. They’re serious. Rape is nothing to joke about. Sexual harassment is nothing to joke about and this applies to both women and men.

    But this lawsuit is silly. Actually that’s a euphemism. This lawsuit is absurd. It will end up damaging the entire Yale student body by jeopardizing 500 million dollars of federal funding for students instead of disciplining and taking care of the isolated issues that exist with chauvinism.

    In Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education (1999), the Supreme Court held that to qualify as sexual harassment that creates a hostile environment, conduct must be “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it can be said to deprive the victims of access to the educational opportunities or benefits.”

    If you think Yale matches that definition, what on earth are you smoking….