Tag Archive: Greek

  1. DKE case raises questions about fraternity bans

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    Around 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 13, 2010, Delta Kappa Epsilon pledges filed into Old Campus, chanting the now-infamous lines: “No means yes, yes means anal.”

    Footage of the incident quickly went viral, drawing condemnation from the Yale community and beyond. After a six-month investigation, the Yale College Executive Committee imposed a five-year ban on DKE in May 2011. The penalties prevented the group from associating itself with Yale, holding on-campus events and using Yale email or bulletin boards to communicate with students.

    But despite the high-profile punishment, the actual execution of the ban and its lifting this May went largely unnoticed, raising questions about the efficacy of disciplinary action on Greek organizations.

    “We wrestle with it,” Dean of Yale College Jonathan Holloway said in reference to the efficacy of bans on campus groups. “We can only do so much to stop behavior.”

    Burgwell Howard, senior associate dean of Yale College, said it is a challenge to address the relationship between Greek organizations and the University because Yale cannot mandate training or implement certain kinds of incentives.

    Still, Holloway pointed that “the Yale name means something,” adding that for example, removing a student group’s access to the yale.edu internet domain sends an important symbolic message.

    “We’re saying that you cannot involve the University in this behavior that we find repugnant. That’s called signaling, and if we didn’t do that, we’d have failed the community,” Holloway said.

    Still, Luke Persichetti ’17, current president of DKE, said in a statement to the News that the ban has effected change within the fraternity.

    “I believe the sanctions had a positive impact on the culture of our fraternity,” Persichetti said. “Our current members understand the history of the ban and have played an important part in the cultural shift that has taken place since then.”

    Jordan Forney ’11, president of Yale’s DKE chapter during the chanting incident, declined to comment for this article.

    Considering the balance between DKE’s role as a member of an international organization and its identity within the Yale community, Persichetti explained that while the national chapter controls risk management, recruitment and general governance, the local DKE chapter treasures its role on campus and welcomes “any and all constructive input” from the University.

    Skyler Inman ’17, founding president of the Alpha Phi sorority and director of the Yale College Council’s Greek life task force last year, acknowledged the struggle for the University to regulate Greek organizations not affiliated with the school.

    “A campuswide ban still can’t affect these groups’ ability to host off-campus parties in their own homes, which is the main social capital that groups like this have,” Inman said. “I think the fact that many students are or were unaware of these bans speaks to their inefficacy, but that doesn’t mean that the bans don’t hurt the groups’ recruitment or presence on campus.”

    For Leo, a fraternity at Yale formerly associated with Sigma Alpha Epsilon, an on-campus ban had little impact on regular activities. In February 2015, Leo was banned from campus for 18 months after the University ruled that the fraternity violated sexual misconduct policies.

    In a previous interview with the News, Jesse Mander ’18, president of Leo, noted that Leo — like all fraternities at Yale — is located off campus, and as a result the ban “didn’t affect [it] that much.” He added, however, that Leo looks forward to using its revamped presence on campus to enhance and redefine the role of fraternities at Yale.

    Holloway said although the five-year ban for DKE sounds harsh, given that no current members were enrolled at Yale during the 2010 chanting incident, punishments sometimes need to target beyond the perpetrators in order to “flush institutional memory and culture out.” Inman said such events tend to stem more from group culture than individual action.

    According to Inman, there has been a broad cultural shift in the Greek community, trending toward transparency, accountability and inclusivity. For example, several fraternities have made an effort to engage more with campus resources such as the Communication and Consent Educators, United Against Sexual Assault at Yale and the Alcohol and Other Drugs Harm-Reduction Initiative. Howard said he initiated a conversation with Greek organizations about collectively joining the University last year and that he will continue to bring up the same question this year.

    But other students interviewed said the ban on DKE may not address the root of the problem.

    Patrick Sullivan ’18, a communication and consent educator, said the fact that fraternities are beholden to their national chapters — bodies that are independent of the University — puts the school in a difficult position to make policies against these groups. Still, Sullivan said there needs to be structural changes in order for the University to intervene in the groups’ treatment of race, gender, sexual violence and other important issues.

    “I think that banning fraternities from activities or banning them as a Yale organization is an important punitive measure the University can take, because what DKE did was unacceptable,” said Sullivan. “I don’t think, however, that banning an organization from on-campus activities does the work of enacting a change in the organization.”

    Sullivan said many universities struggle to deal with institutional memory because of student turnover, adding that they are guilty of ignoring the heart of campus problems and instead waiting for the disgruntled students to graduate.

    “Yes, a lot of the brothers of DKE were in middle school when this particular event happened, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still toxic things that exist in fraternities right now that the University needs to engage with,” he added.

    Still, several students interviewed were largely unaware of the DKE ban, speaking to its minimal impact on regular campus life.

    Of 17 students interviewed by the News, 10 said they are aware of the chanting incident in 2010 and eight said they know a ban was imposed on DKE as a result. However, none of the interviewees said they knew the ban had been lifted.

    Few, if any, current undergraduates were students at Yale when DKE’s ban was announced. And some students interviewed expressed dissatisfaction with the absence of a public notification about the expiration of the ban.

    “To achieve a mutual understanding, I think it’s important that the administration, given the events of the last year, has some kind of accountability in terms of transparency,” said Geneva Decker ’17. “As a senior, I didn’t even know there was a ban, and I think it’d be very relevant to a lot of students to hear this news from the University.”

    Regardless of the ban’s status, Persichetti said DKE’s diverse makeup — varsity athletes, student government representatives and communication consent educators — contributes to the Yale community “in a positive and meaningful way.”

    DKE National Executive Director Doug Lanpher told the News that DKE’s chapter at Yale has continued to flourish even after the ban, adding that DKE is proud of the “rich heritage and an outstanding group of young men” that makes up the Yale chapter.

    DKE was founded at Yale in 1844.

  2. Willing Victims?

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    “The Human race works so hard, and suffers so much, and still it always must find an evil fate.” These were Iphigenia’s words just before she offered herself as a sacrificial victim in front of a large audience in a dimly lit hall at the Yale Centre for British Art on Wednesday.

    The play, Iphigenia at Aulis, considered by some scholars as Euripides’ messiest, was chosen for this 18th annual faculty-staged reading partly in remembrance of the often willing self-sacrifice of millions of young people in World War I a century ago. It also echoes the more recent embrace of suicide as a religious or political statement. According to the Director, Murray Biggs, most people don’t know this play and it is very seldom read. “I have never seen it staged,” he said.

    Iphigenia at Aulis was left incomplete at the poet’s death in 406 BCE, and was finished by Euripides’ relative for a performance in 405 BCE. It unfolds when Agamemnon summons his daughter from home under the pretext of marrying her to Achilles, a prince in the Greek force.  Unknown to Clytemnestra, Agamemnon’s wife, Agamemnon had planned to sacrifice their daughter to Artemis so that the Greek expedition could proceed to war. Achilles, upon learning of the planned sacrifice, offered to defend Iphigenia, but she decided to offer her life willingly.

    The play raises many questions that have been the subject of debate for many years: what is the value of an individual life, and under what circumstances can that life be taken? Is Iphigenia’s sacrifice really a sad necessity? Dressed as a bride’s maid, Iphigenia (Miranda Rizzolo ‘15), had come prepared for a wedding. Her sweet voice at first embraces her father: “Father, I’m so happy to see you after such a long time!” She then solemnly begs for life -—“Don’t kill me before my time!”— and then courageously offers her life for Greece: “All of Greece, great Greece, is looking at me now! In me lies the setting forth of the ships.” Rizzoli’s speech begging for her life was perfectly delivered, but when she later decided to offer her life, the performance no longer felt real.

    Achilles (Jacob Osborne ‘16), the great hero in the Iliad, impressed the audience with his powerful voice and revealing gestures. He made them laugh, breaking the somber mood that reigned in the hall. With no props and most of the cast dressed in black, the performance appeared like a funeral ceremony. The lighting did not help; it was just bright enough for the actors to read their lines, but even so, some kept tilting their bound scripts toward the strongest ray of light.

    Iphigenia offered her life for Greece to continue being free, but was Euripedes’ Greece free? Agamemnon (played by Professor Paul Fry) appears confused. He is a General but his voice lacks the matching authority. He is a man caught up between family and state affairs. His wife Clytemnestra (Professor Toni Dorfman) advises him to take charge of the public matters while she takes care of the family. Why is Greece going to war? Is the war a just cause or a quarrel between individuals? Agamemnon claims to fight for Greek freedom, but the only one free enough to reprimand him is his slave (Professor Lawrence Manley). Yet his exchange with Agamemnon did not portray his real position in the Greek hierarchy; Manley seemed too confident for a slave, even a wise one.

    The play’s sadness was broken from time to time by the chorus, but instead of singing together in harmony, the actors took turns reading. When the chorus finally sang together at the play’s close, the effect was beautiful, but at the same time raised questions as to why they had not sung together earlier. For instance, Peleus and Thetis’ wedding and Iphigenia’s sacrifice should have been sunng or at least read in unison to portray the changing atmosphere.

    The cast of this 18th annual faculty staged reading was drawn from Yale faculty and students from the English, Classics, and Theatre studies Departments. “They are not professional actors,” Murray Biggs told me. But Dorfman played Clytemnestra excellently. Her voice varied with the circumstances. She was happy when preparing for her daughter’s marriage and solemn when mediating for her life. The other actors similarly succeeded, especially Osborne, who connected well with the audience.

    Iphigenia’s speech saying that the gods are more powerful that men, that Greeks must prevail over barbarians, that males are more valuable than females, makes ss wonder whether her death is necessary for defending these values. Artemis, just like what God did to Patriarch Abraham, substituted the human sacrifice with a lamb — Iphigenia was saved. Euripides leaves us with a question, one that has continued to resonate through World War I and through the present day: must we ever sacrifice ourselves?

  3. Princeton moves to keep freshmen away from Greeks

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    Princeton freshmen are now prohibited from attending all Greek formal and semiformal events, the Daily Princetonian reported.

    Last August, Princeton administrators announced that Princeton freshmen cannot rush fraternities or sororities. But on Sunday, a committee of students and administrators charged with outlining the specifics of the ban released a report stating that freshmen students who “knowingly” rush or pledge a Greek organization, Greek members who plan events for this purpose and freshmen who attend Greek-sponsored formal and semiformal events will be suspended from the university.

    “We agreed that the intention of the policy is to allow freshmen a full year of exposure to the social and residential aspects of University life without the distraction of fraternity and sorority activity,” the report states.

    Yale announced a ban on fall rush for freshmen earlier this month, though University administrators have not yet hammered out the ban’s specifics.

  4. Gross Dartmouth hazing leads to outrage

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    Outrage over accounts of hazing published in Dartmouth’s campus newspaper has led to action from professors.

    In late January, Dartmouth senior Andrew Lohse wrote an opinion article in the paper describing various disgusting hazing practices among the university’s fraternities. As a pledge, Lohse said he was made to drink a full cup of vinegar, swim through a pool full of bodily excrement and perform a number of acts too disgusting for Cross Campus report. (Just read the op-ed if you want the gory details.)

    In response to Lohse’s piece, more than 100 Dartmouth professors signed a faculty letter late last week condemning hazing and calling on the university’s administration to take a stronger stance against hazing on campus.

    “[Hazing] degrades their ability to learn and our ability to teach,” the letter reads. “It breaks down their understanding of right and wrong, of decency and indecency, and the lines between healthy sexuality and sexual assault.”