In the most formal show of support yet for the Yale Women’s Center following the “Yale Sluts” incident Yale Law Women condemned the actions of the 12 Zeta Psi pledges and announced the group’s intent to organize a “roundtable discussion” with representatives from the Yale Law Women, other graduate schools and the Center itself.
“We did not publicly condemn this behavior when it happened,” the group wrote in a press release, which was sent to the News on Saturday. “We should have and we do now.”
The Women’s Center welcomed the statement as an indication of community support for their endeavors to lobby the administration for a response to the incident and to spark an on-campus dialogue on women’s issues.
The condemnation comes five weeks after Jan. 20, when Yale students found a widely forwarded e-mail in their in-boxes from the Yale Women’s Center entitled “This Time We Sue.” Enclosed in the e-mail was a photo of 12 undergraduate students affiliated with the Zeta Psi fraternity holding a sign that read “We Love Yale Sluts” in front of the Center.
In response, the Yale Women’s Center has pushed for sweeping changes to the University’s sexual-harassment and assault education policies as well as its relationship with campus fraternities. In a 26-page document delivered Feb. 9 to University administrators, the Center’s board called for the registration and regulation of fraternities, increased institutional support and resources for the Center and improved sexual-harassment education for all students, especially during their first year of Yale College, among other demands.
The timing of the release — over a month since the event occurred — had more to do with the Law School’s schedule than anything else, Amy Kurren LAW ’09 explained. Final exams at the end of January and a post-term break led to the late release of Yale Law Women’s statement of support, Kurren said.
As for the roundtable discussion, Kurren and Katherine Wilson-Milne LAW ’09 both said there are no set plans for its focus at the moment, but that Yale Law Women wanted to express support for a group within the undergraduate community, with which it is rarely involved. Wilson-Milne said at the moment, Yale Law Women has no plans to “formally push the University” to act on changes expressed in the Center’s report, but she left the door open, saying, “that is naturally possible in the future.”
For the Center, the announcement comes as the most visible overture of support yet from a women’s group on campus.
“This makes a big difference to us,” Center Constituency Coordinator Kathryn Olivarius ’11 said. “It shows there’s real support in the community and that it’s not just us driving this train.”
With the exception of Yale Law Women, only one women’s group outside the Center has publicly articulated a stance on the controversy. The Women’s Leadership Initiative issued a statement Sunday night calling the incident “a crucial signal for the need for increased dialogue surrounding the issue of campus misogyny.”
Using language emphasizing the need for University cooperation, the WLI said in the statement it would “focus on moving forward and collaborating with administrators and other student groups to improve the current situation and to prevent similar acts of discrimination from occurring in the future.” But Caroline Savello ’09, co-president of the WLI, said various currents of opinion in the group have yet to coalesce around any specific, endorsed avenue of response.
Olivarius appealed for more “overt” support from women’s groups on campus, explaining that — from the Center’s perspective — the push to reform University policy holds benefits for all University women, not just those affiliated with the Center.