Uncategorized | 4:03 pm | October 16, 2010 | By Jordi Gassó

Miller responds to DKE chants

In a letter to the Yale community Friday, Yale College Mary Miller wrote on behalf of administrators to express disapproval for Delta Kappa Epsilon’s controversial pledge initiation on Old Campus Wednesday night.

“I speak for the University in expressing my outrage that such words were shouted on this campus,” Miller wrote, referring to the DKE members’ chanting of phrases such as “F—ing sluts,” “No means yes, yes means anal” and “My name is Jack, I’m a necrophiliac, I f— dead women.”

Miller extensively quoted formal University policies, drawn from the C. Vann Woodward report and the official statement on Sexual Harassment. Although she emphasized “the results of free expression are to the general benefit in the long run, however unpleasant they may appear at the time,” she wrote that freedom of speech must take place in a civil and respectful setting.

In making reference to other official guidelines, she also reminded readers what constitutes sexual harassment and that sexual harassment represents “a violation of University policy and may result in serious disciplinary action.”

Miller wrote about the Women’s Center panel Friday in response to the DKE incident, which she called a “landmark meeting” attended by at least 150 students. The forum, she said, begins a long process of discourse between all parties involved.

On the possibility of disciplinary response against DKE, she wrote that such matters are confidential at Yale as required by the University and federal law.

“In short, the process is not designed to provide satisfaction to those who might feel aggrieved as members of the larger community in which the offense has occurred,” Miller wrote.


She added that it is important to realize DKE has been held accountable for their behavior and that the fraternity has accepted responsibility, allowing for more dialogue on sexual harassment.

Read the full text of the letter below:

October 15, 2010

Dear Members of the Yale Community:

I write in response to concern over the DKE incident on Yale’s Old Campus Wednesday evening. I speak for the University in expressing my outrage that such words were shouted on this campus.

That said, I repeat the words of the C. Vann Woodward report, official University policy, regarding speech:

We take a chance, as the First Amendment takes a chance, when we commit ourselves to the idea that the results of free expression are to the general benefit in the long run, however unpleasant they may appear at the time. The validity of such a belief cannot be demonstrated conclusively. It is a belief of recent historical development, even within universities, one embodied in American constitutional doctrine but not widely shared outside the academic world, and denied in theory and in practice by much of the world most of the time.

In short, we do not censor speech on our campus but — in order to trust one another and to be confident in our communications — free expression calls for an environment of civility and respect. In this light, consider the official statement on Sexual Harassment of the University:

Sexual harassment is antithetical to academic values and to a work environment free from the fact or appearance of coercion. It is a violation of University policy and may result in serious disciplinary action. Sexual harassment consists of nonconsensual sexual advances, request for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature on or off campus.

So here is the immediate question that many have asked today: what is Yale doing in response? Today, at least 150 students, largely from the Women’s Center and DKE met together, a landmark meeting to begin a dialogue that we hope leads to mutual respect. After a public session, the students met in small groups with dialogue facilitators. Thus begins a long process.

But others will ask as well, what more is Yale doing in response? Is someone being punished? What will be known, ultimately, about any disciplinary response to the DKE shouting on the Old Campus of October 13, 2010?

Any and all disciplinary processes are confidential at Yale, from their inception through their conclusion as required under federal law and University policy.

In short, the process is not designed to provide satisfaction to those who might feel aggrieved as members of the larger community in which the offense has occurred.

But what matters most here is that the larger community has addressed the particular fraternity, DKE, and held them responsible and accountable for their actions. What is important to recognize is that DKE has accepted responsibility, opening a new level of discourse on the issue of sexual harassment. This is an opportunity to seize.

Yours truly,

Mary Miller

Dean of Yale College

Comments
  • Veritas

    I’m impressed with Dean Miller’s response; it is refreshingly upfront and strikes a stark contrast with the perceived administrative indifference to issues other than Yale’s image. The conclusion of her letter, in particular, was great because she took both personal and professional risk in writing it: it will certainly be unpopular with many in the Yale community.

    > In short, the [disciplinary] process is not designed to provide satisfaction to those who might feel aggrieved as members of the larger community in which the offense has occurred.
    >
    > But what matters most here is that the larger community has addressed the particular fraternity, DKE, and held them responsible and accountable for their actions. What is important to recognize is that DKE has accepted responsibility, opening a new level of discourse on the issue of sexual harassment. This is an opportunity to seize.

  • anotherY10

    Good – she identifies that free speech is different from sexual harassment, but she doesn’t identify which the administration defines this incident as.

    But this must be a mistake:

    > “But what matters most here is that
    > the larger community has addressed the
    > particular fraternity, DKE, and held
    > them responsible and accountable for
    > their actions.”

    No. What matters here is that Yale University will award these young men degrees , which certify a level of leadership and privilege in the world, setting them on the best start to prominent careers. What matters here is that **none of the men involved have been named in public, and thus as individuals, this will not be on their record** when they stand for congress, or run a multinational (except for the Presidents of the frat, who to their credit seem to have assumed a responsibility which should surely have been more widely spread). What matters here is that Yale still recruits people just to play on their football teams, and then watches most football players join frats like DKE or Zeta Psi – that these type of men are rewarded by our culture rather than punished (no offense to non-football, non-frat, athletes. I know the rest of you aren’t meatheads). Being a frat officer or a football team member is still ticks lots of boxes on your way onto the most prestigious career ladders – but Mary Miller could ensure that some of these misogynists leave Yale with a warning mark against their names, as well as their certificate of approval.

  • Veritas

    @anotherY10: It is not the University’s responsibility to identify students that violated someone else’s standards of behavior for the satisfaction of and to ease the job of the prejudiced members of the public.

    I notice that you have already called all Yale football players and all athletes in frats *meatheads*. How many people have you met who fall into these categories? Have you seen their applications or grades? Tons of great and smart athletes are rejected each year because they fell just short of Yale’s stringent academic standards. Not to mention that those who made it through met those academic standards while spending hours working their bodies to exhaustion six days a week. Being a varsity athlete (yes, even a high school football player) is no cakewalk.

    On the other hand, lazy people, people who don’t go out, and people who don’t have friends are certainly not immune from making lewd statements, either, nor are non-frat, non-football athletes, but you seem to dismiss them as such.

  • anotherY10

    I just want to clarify one thing – I was specifically saying that I know they *don’t* all belong to the “meathead” stereotype. I accept I didn’t make this clear enough – I was writing in haste – but I was explicitly saying that I know plenty of young men who fulfil **both** the criteria of being on the football team, and in frats, who frankly do tend to end up involved in these kind of incidents- but that my claims don’t apply to apply to all athletes by a long shot, or indeed to all fraternity brothers. I’ve met plenty of Yale athletes who are amongst the most intellectually inspiring people in my class , and plenty of fraternity brothers who are charming and sensitive. If I hadn’t tried to put this all in a throw-away parenthesis it might have been clearer. Maybe I should have said “I know the ‘all athletes are meatheads’ stereotype is garbage”.

    But you don’t think sexual harassment counts as violating the university’s standards of behavior? It just counts as violating the standards of “prejudiced members of the public?” If this was a criminal court, it would all be held in public.

  • tonykez

    Yale admission office needs to reevaluate its admission requirement. Diversity is important, however, character, sound judgment, maturity, and moral values are crucial to Yale institution. The only way to resolve this issue is to **expel the students who orchestrated this barbaric act of crime**. I do have a son attending Yale, as a father, I would withdraw him from any college, if he would have acted in this manner. This is not acceptable