Miller announces DKE suspension

UPDATED 10:04 p.m. In an email to students and faculty Tuesday afternoon, Yale College Dean Mary Miller informed the University community about the Executive Committee’s actions concerning the controversial Delta Kappa Epsilon pledge incident Oct. 13. After a full proceeding, Miller said, the Committee found that the Yale DKE chapter had violated the Undergraduate Regulations by threatening and intimidating others that night, when pledges were instructed to chanted phrases such as “No means yes, yes means anal” on Old Campus. The Committee also found several DKE brothers had breached the same regulations, resulting in individual penalties.

“Although it is unusual to send a memorandum regarding a particular Executive Committee decision to the Yale community, a wide range of community members have been affected by this incident,” Miller said in the email. “As a result, I have decided to share the Committee’s decisions regarding this case.”

Although Miller revealed that the Committee issued individual sanctions to fraternity members, federal and University privacy policies prevented her from communicating further details about these disciplinary actions, she said. But Miller did disclose that the Committee imposed penalties on the Yale DKE chapter — despite its status as an unregistered student organization — that prevent it from recruiting new members or holding any events on campus for five years. The sanctions also limit the group’s ability to communicate with the student body and use the Yale name in connection with DKE.

In a separate e-mail to the News, Miller decline to further comment on the matter.

The Committee has formally asked that the fraternity’s national organization suspend the chapter for five years. After the Old Campus incident, DKE’s national organization promptly directed the Yale chapter to stop all pledge activities, including the initiation of new members. But the ban was lifted in early November, less than one month after it was imposed.

If, after five years, the fraternity has adhered to these measures and registers as an undergraduate organization, the Committee suggests that the Yale College Dean’s Office lift the penalties.

Although the national organization has yet to receive a formal request for suspension from the University, Executive Director of DKE International Douglas Lanpher said the measures detailed in Miller’s e-mail to the Yale community were “excessive” and that the fraternity’s headquarters would want to appeal the decision if possible.

“I think we’ve addressed the situation internally,” Lanpher said. “We believe that corrective action has already been taken, but we would still like to be good partners [with the University].”

Miller’s decision to reveal the disciplinary measures taken against DKE surprised Lanpher, he said, after Yale officials had assured him that the matter would remain confidential. Lanpher said that Yale’s call for suspension was “ironic” given the fact that the University does not officially recognize Greek organizations. Still, he added, the national organization expects to work with Yale administrators to find an “appropriate solution.”

Jordan Forney ’11, then-president of the Yale DKE chapter, declined to comment on the new sanctions.

The DKE incident sparked a year-long debate on campus about Yale’s sexual climate and the University’s response to instances of sexual misconduct. Deeming the fraternity’s antics as the “last straw” in a long chain of public incidents, a group of 16 students and alumni filed a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, claiming that Yale violated Title IX regulations — a federal law that prohibits gender discrimination in schools that receive federal funding — by allowing a hostile sexual environment to persist on campus. On Mar. 31, the complainants announced that the OCR had officially opened an investigation into the University’s policies on sexual harassment.

While it remains unclear what Yale’s new restrictions will mean for DKE since it is an unregistered organization, complainant Alexandra Brodsky ’12 said, Miller’s e-mail showed that the administration could be more transparent about its disciplinary proceedings.

“If the suspension does create a serious disturbance to the fraternity’s activities, then a message will be sent that sexual harassment will not be tolerated on this campus,” she said.

The decision also marked a departure from the administration’s usual response to incidents of sexual misconduct, she said, adding that she was pleased to see Yale officials adopt this new approach.

She declined to speculate on whether the Title IX investigation had influenced Miller’s disclosure of the ExComm decision.

Read the full text of the letter below.

I write to inform you of the Executive Committee’s actions concerning the October 2010 DKE (Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity) incident. Although it is unusual to send a memorandum regarding a particular Executive Committee decision to the Yale community, a wide range of community members have been affected by this incident. As a result, I have decided to share the Committee’s decisions regarding this case. It is my hope that this will not only shed some light on a matter of public concern but also provide notice of the outcomes to all those who may have been affected by sexual harassment and, accordingly, educate our community. I further hope that this information may help prevent future incidents of this kind.

Let me remind you first of the process by which the Executive Committee reaches a decision. The Committee must receive a specific complaint to initiate proceedings. In this instance, Marichal Gentry, Dean of Student Affairs, brought official allegations of “sexual harassment” and “imperiling the integrity and values of the University community.” The Committee then pursued those charges. The Fact Finder for the Committee interviewed a number of individuals with knowledge of the incident, including both those who had been charged and witnesses; he then submitted a report to the Committee. The Committee carefully considered all of the attested facts and circumstances in this incident.

After a full hearing, the Committee found that the DKE chapter, as an organization, one comprised of Yale students, had threatened and intimidated others, in violation of the Undergraduate Regulations of Yale College as they pertain to “harassment, coercion or intimidation” and “imperiling the integrity and values of the University community.” The Executive Committee further found several fraternity members had also, as individuals, violated the same regulations.

The Committee issued penalties to individual fraternity members. Because of confidentiality restrictions imposed by federal privacy law and by Yale’s own policies, I cannot provide further detail about charges or decisions with regard to individuals in this email.

I can report that the Committee imposed sanctions on the DKE chapter as an organization that prohibit it from conducting any fraternity activities on campus (including recruiting) for a period of five years, prevent it from communicating with Yale students by means of Yale bulletin boards or Yale email, and severely limit its use of the Yale name in connection with the DKE organization. The Committee also has also formally requested that the DKE national organization suspend the chapter for five years. If, after five years, the DKE chapter has observed all restrictions and agrees to pursue registration as an undergraduate organization, the Committee recommends that the Yale College Dean’s Office lift these sanctions.

Every member of our community has a legal and moral right to an educational environment free from harassment and intimidation. I would like to thank the members of the Executive Committee for their diligent efforts in enforcing the Yale University Undergraduate Regulations.

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