October 13th, 2013 | University

Protest on sexual misconduct at Inaugural Block Party

Protestors

Larry Milstein

As attendees flooded into the Hillhouse Block Party on Sunday afternoon, they were met by protesters challenging the University’s response to sexual misconduct on campus.

On the corner of Trumbull and Hillhouse, nine protesters held signs and handed out fliers about reports of sexual misconduct at Yale. Protesters demanded stiffer punishments, including expulsion, for both faculty and student offenders. Several of the protesters’ placards named the Divinity School, Philosophy, Physical Sciences, Pharmacology and Egyptology departments as harboring alleged perpetrators of sexual misconduct.

“We wouldn’t be making these claims without hard evidence,” said protester Heidi Howkins Lockwood GRD ’09.

Lockwood said previous faculty offenders have been given generous six-figure severance packages while victims have allegedly been financially incentivized to remain silent through non-disclosure agreements. While she added that other schools have issues with sexual misconduct, Lockwood claimed Yale was unique because of its “culture of silence.”

Fellow protester Eric Maroney, a New Haven high school teacher, said the group used Sunday’s festivities to highlight that Title IX has not been taken seriously by the University. Other protesters argued the attention from the event offered a unique opportunity for exposure.

“This inauguration represents a new beginning, so it is important that we make sure that changes occur,” Lockwood said.

According to a press release from the protestors, Yale’s previous response to sexual misconduct on campus has been inadequate. Further, they are asking for administrators to publicly apologize for asking victims to sign nondisclosure agreements.

“We want Yale to be accountable and be respectful of the needs and services of these victims,” said Susan Burhans, a former Yale public safety educator, and Title IX retaliation complainant.

Lockwood said one department at Yale saw four faculty members accused of sexual misconduct in the past five years. One of those faculty members remains employed by the University today.