October 20th, 2010 | Uncategorized

University responds to DKE incident

University President Richard Levin and Yale College Dean Mary Miller have released a statement regarding the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity’s inflammatory chants last week.

Read full text below:

October 20, 2010

We write to express our dismay at the appalling language loudly chanted by Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity initiates last Wednesday outside of student residences and elsewhere on campus. Yale has policies that broadly protect freedom of expression, but we also value decency and civility, and we are committed to maintaining an environment that fosters a learning community of men and women founded upon mutual respect. We will confront hateful speech when it has been uttered, and we take this opportunity do so in no uncertain terms: No member of our community should engage in such demeaning behavior.

DKE is not a Yale College organization. Nevertheless, this DKE chapter is composed of Yale students. We appreciate that the leaders of the fraternity have apologized to the Yale community, but an episode like this breaches the trust that is essential to preserving a community of free and open discourse. We call upon those responsible to reflect deeply, and to embark on a course that will heal the hurt they have caused.

The national parent organization of the fraternity has suspended all pledge activities, and its president will meet with Dean Miller this weekend and with individual members of the fraternity. Those students have already signed a pledge, committing themselves to “…the Promotion of Honorable Friendship and Useful Citizenship, the Development of a Spirit of Tolerance and Respect for the Rights and Views of Others…”. The statements made by DKE members after meeting with the Yale Women’s Center leadership provide a start toward fulfilling this important pledge.

Richard C. Levin

Mary Miller

  • Kate

    This is a good step from President Levin and Dean Milller – in so far as it makes clear that the university, from the top down, finds DKE’s behavior unacceptable.

    But it’s deeply disappointing that **they’re reinforcing the idea that DKE’s behavior was fundamentally an act of speech**, and therefore comes under the protection of Yale’s commitment to “free speech”. We wouldn’t dream of asking that people be punished for their speech – had DKE written an article in the YDN claiming consent has been overemphasized by feminists, or chanted this in their own building, there wouldn’t be a case for administration action against them, although we’d all have the right to reply, and many of us would do so angrily.

    But DKE’s actions were also physical – they made their presence felt physically, as a mob, in freshmen space, in a way that makes it uncomfortable for female staff and faculty to walk past, aided by darkness to make it harder to identify themselves. They made threats about rape in a charged environment, while clearly drunk. This isn’t some abstract set of words as free utterance. The university has failed to identify this behaviour as **sexual harassment**, and therefore has protected themselves against demands that behavior like this be punished. This isn’t a call for DKE itself to be witch hunted – aggressive shows of masculinity like this go on all the time from men in other frats, and from men in none. But Levin and Miller need to show, for all their evident good intent, that occasionally, at Yale, serious offenses are punished for what they are, not ushered away as unpleasant expressions of fundamental rights.

    Most sexual harassment is verbal. Do our administration really think this is always “free speech”?

  • sorrytobreakit2you

    Kate, you brought up a great point. Though I doubt with the deaths of three Yalies in the past two years along with the fiasco at Elevate, Yale would be willing to bring national attention to itself like this again by reprimanding the participants…