Yale’s chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity has denied allegations that brothers racially discriminated against students of color during a party held Friday at the fraternity’s off-campus house.

On Oct. 31, the day after the party in question, Neema Githere ’18 posted a status on her personal Facebook profile recounting the experience of a group of women of color which she said were denied entrance to SAE on Friday on the basis of race. Though Githere was not part of that group herself and was not in attendance Friday, she noted in the post that a similar incident had happened to her last year and invited others who had been discriminated against by SAE to comment with their stories. Since it was published, her post has received over 600 likes and almost 100 shares.

“I’d just like to take a moment to give a shoutout to the member of Yale’s SAE chapter who turned away a group of girls from their party last night, explaining that admittance was on a ‘White Girls Only’ basis,” her post read.

Members of SAE have categorically denied the accusations. Yale SAE President Grant Mueller ’17 said he has been in contact with Yale administrators and representatives from SAE’s national organization about the incident to repudiate charges that SAE members engaged in racist behavior when deciding whom to admit to the party.

“Obviously I was shocked and flabbergasted [at the idea] that anyone in SAE would even have these words come from their mouths,” Mueller said. “It’s just kind of upsetting for me because we try to be so incredibly accepting and take pride in our diversity.”

Mueller said he was notified of Githere’s post around 8 p.m. on Saturday and immediately contacted Dean of Student Engagement Burgwell Howard, as well as his residential college dean, in order to address the complaints. Howard already knew about the post, Mueller said. Mueller and Howard met on Saturday night and spoke on the phone the next afternoon.

Githere’s statement has drawn attention from beyond Yale’s campus. Mueller said a representative from the national chapter reached out to him via email, asking for details about the event. He added that The Huffington Post has contacted him about the allegations, but said he did not know whether SAE’s national organization would provide a spokesman for the chapter.

Mueller added that he and other SAE brothers plan on attending a forum at the Afro-American Cultural Center this afternoon, where attendees will discuss the weekend’s events in relation to larger discussions about an inclusive campus culture.

The administration has also been in contact with the students involved in the alleged events outlined in the Facebook post. Emails provided to the News show that on Sunday morning at 10 a.m., Howard emailed a Yale student he had heard was present for the events outlined in Githere’s post requesting more details about the alleged incident. Howard said he had been contacted by the student’s residential college dean about the events and wanted to gather as much information as possible.

“You should be aware that I have been contacted by the chapter president, and he is anxious to understand exactly what you and your friend experienced,” Howard wrote to the student, who asked to remain anonymous in order to preserve privacy. “He has received some mixed reports from his membership who may have been staffing the door that evening, so he would like to hear to accounting from you and your friend to see what actions may need to taken with his members.”

The student was with two friends in the crowd in front of the house on Friday evening, hoping to enter the party, but brothers were “standing directly in the door frame and picking people one at a time from the crowd clumped right near the door,” according to the student’s email to Howard.

It was then, the student said, that one friend — who is a woman of color — heard a brother say “White girls only,” directed at another woman of color who was trying to enter.

“After the comment, we left, and I never plan on returning to SAE,” the student wrote to Howard.

That same afternoon, Howard emailed the friend who had overheard the conversation, asking for the friend’s account of the events.

Neither Howard nor the student’s friend could be reached for comment Sunday evening.

As of late Sunday night, five people of color had commented on Githere’s status sharing similar encounters they have had at SAE, recounting experiences ranging from being questioned about whether they went to Yale to being told they could only enter if brothers could individually touch the partygoer’s hair.

Ivonne Gonzales ’16, who is Latina, expressed anger and disbelief on Githere’s thread that incidents such as these are “still happening,” citing a similar experience of hers.

Gonzales told the News that in spring 2014, she and her friends — about half of whom were visiting from other universities — were asked for their Yale IDs upon approaching SAE. After learning that some of them did not attend Yale, Gonzales said brothers at the door asked to see their passports. But she said various explanations — including an apology from the SAE president — led her to believe that the altercation was a misunderstanding, so she did not expect to hear of a similar incident later.

“I was surprised because I thought my story was a misunderstanding,” she said. “I’m upset it’s a recurring issue, and maybe it’s time for them to have a conversation about all this,” she said.

In an interview with the News Sunday night, Githere said an SAE member has told her in the past that admittance to parties is more based on attractiveness than race. She declined to comment further on Friday night’s events.

According to SAE members interviewed, the fraternity has a policy to let in any Yale student until the house becomes too crowded, at which point students attempting to enter have to have a member let them in personally. Mueller said asking for Yale ID at the door is standard practice and that Yale Police has explicitly instructed the fraternity to only admit Yale students.

Akinyi Ochieng ’15, who commented on the post sharing an instance of racial discrimination she experienced two years ago at SAE, said that regardless of what happened Friday night, the fraternity’s members should address the complaints rather than deny them.

“Instead of denying the experiences of people of color such as myself or Neema [Githere], I would hope that the brothers of SAE could say instead, ‘From our knowledge, this did not happen, but to make sure that this never happens, we will make it clear that there is no room for hate or discrimination in our house,’” she told the News.

The Yale chapter of SAE was founded in 1988.

Daniela Brighenti contributed reporting.

Clarification, Nov. 2, 2015: A previous version of this article did not contextualize the incident that occurred between Gonzales and members of SAE in spring 2014. 

  • theburren

    Just to get the narrative straight here: Neema’s post on Facebook is based on what the anonymous freshman said; what the anonymous freshman said is in turn based on what she overheard from a brother. This is all doubly secondhand.

    • 15gladyskravitz

      Put ’em all on double secret probation.

  • roxlet

    I agree with theburren.

  • averagejoe

    Also important to be noted, the girl who claims she was asked for her passport later apologized in a facebook post, noting that sae brothers also asked her for any form of id, Yale ID, a state ID, or passport. She went on to say while she was initially offended, she understood the brothers were asking for some proof of age, for security purposes.

  • Fecund Musings

    The author of the original Facebook post was not at the party, where there were many black women and women of color (who, BTW, are now afraid to speak up and say they were there), and she never heard anyone say that only white women would be allowed to enter. Yet, it is somehow her feeling that she needs to speak up and accuse SAE of something they did not do. What they did do is to exclude partygoers who were not Yale students, and to ask students to wait when the house became overcrowded.
    Only in the world of extreme political correctness are you guilty unless proven otherwise. SAE stands accused and convicted in one fell swoop.

    • Yirmin

      Of course the real irony is that seems to come about because of facebook… you know the great defender of liberal causes that originated as a computer program for that oh so un-sexist act of tracking the bone-ability of college girls.

  • Nancy Morris

    It is hard to imagine that the University or any intelligent person would make any decision or take any action, even mount an investigation, of an “incident” reported only in the insubstantial, hearsay fashion described here. It’s worth noting that the details of the report are inherently bizarre and highly unlikely: A Yale student standing at a doorway telling minority women to go away because the party is restricted to “white girls only?” Not likely.

    Assuming the far more likely prospect that SAE’s denials are correct, SAE might want seriously to consider bringing a civil defamation action against the people spreading this story, or at least requesting the University to take disciplinary action against them.

    • Ayont

      This allegation that the young woman who posted the post is seen daily. Women of color are consistently discrimnated against on basis of sex and color. I have witnessed and been a victim of the exact discrimination that she is talking about. It is not hard to believe that it actually happened. Maybe you haven’t been paying attention, or maybe you haven’t experienced this, but it definitely eviodent.

      • Nancy Morris

        That somebody somewhere does something that somebody who is a member of an ethnic minority construes as discrimination is certainly true. But that truth does not render any more likely the claim that a Yale undergraduate member of SAE stood at the door of a party announcing “white girls only.”

        Further, your ad hominem slurs to the effect that I am (or anyone is) incapable of understanding discrimination because I (or anyone) have not experienced it are obviously and nakedly racist. This means you. In fact, this entire story seems more similar to the recent UVA pseudo-rape story perpetrated by (and now threatening to end) Rolling Stone.

        The “evidence” described in this article of this alleged “incident” is legally weightless. It’s not even admissible evidence. The people spreading this story on the basis of that “evidence” are perpetrating defamation if SAE is right (and there is no evidence they are not) unless such spreaders have a whole lot more to support the story than is described here. From your reply, that seems to include you. Are you prepared to defend a civil defamation action in court? Have you lawyered up yet?

        • unh10

          I’m always really amused when I read comments that are clearly trying to use fancy words and legal jargon to scare people with real arguments. Confidently stating things that aren’t correct doesn’t make you right, it makes you look like an ill-informed bully.

          • Nancy Morris

            I’m never amused by comments that are nothing but empty ad hominem arguments, such as yours. If you come up with something substantial to contribute, please don’t hesitate to write.

            For example, perhaps you can explain why publishing false comments about another person that cause damage to that person’s reputation and are unsupported by reasonable evidence is not actionable defamation. Come on. Give it a go. The whole federal judiciary is waiting on the edges of their seats to hear your theory!

          • unh10

            Good try! You’re getting close! An ad hominem attack is when you critique the person, and use that to write off their argument. A vague statement criticizing your argument isn’t the same.

            Clearly since you have such a good grasp of the law, it’s not worth my time to argue with you. If you’re actually curious about how a defamation suit would go down though, remember that this comment wasn’t made against an individual, it was made against a group. 2nd restatement of torts give specific rules about when that’s actionable.

          • Nancy Morris

            “Clearly since you have such a good grasp of the law, it’s not worth my time to argue with you.”

            In that case, why are you bothering to make what you characterize as a “vague statement criticizing [my] argument?” It’s one thing to be vague, but it’s quite another far more egregious fault to be incapable of clarifying one’s own vagaries.

            And whatever do you mean by “remember that this comment wasn’t made against an individual, it was made against a group?” What “comment?” The complaint here is that a specific individual stood in that doorway and said “white girls only” to the crowd. It’s the complaint that’s defamatory, and that’s not just made against a “group.” Further, SAE itself is an individual with a reputation that’s been damaged by these apparent lies. SAE can (and should) also sue for defamation.

            It is simply not morally or legally acceptable in many cases to concoct and publish a lie about merely because one feels it conveniently advances a cause one favors. Unfortunately, a fish rots from the head, and far too many people on the left have been learning from examples:

            “If you like your insurance plan, you can keep your insurance plan”
            Number of mentions: 37 times

            “With Obamacare we will reduce your insurance premiums by $2,500, per family per year”
            Number of mentions: At least 22 times

            “I cannot pass amnesty through executive action… I am not a dictator”
            Number of mentions: At least 22 times

            “Not one dime of Obamacare will go for abortions”
            Number of mentions: At least 12 times

            Apologists for those bringing the SAE complaints in this case can struggle and pout as much as they wish, but the fact remains that the allegations in the form made here are preposterous on their face. Those inventing and advancing such allegations should be held to account, and huge civil defamation judgments against such liars should go pretty far to concentrate their minds in the future. The University should take care not to get caught in the draft.

          • Joshua Heffernan

            First rule of holes is stop digging. For you the first rule might be stop using the phrase ad hominem.

          • td2016

            Accusing somebody of trying to “scare people with real arguments” and “confidently stating things that aren’t correct” and being “an ill-informed bully” are just empty ad hominem drivel. There’s nothing vague about it. Use of that term is entirely correct in this context. Or have you stumbled on some reason why “an ill-informed bully” can’t make a correct argument?

            What you wrote is particularly weird since unh10 admits he/she cannot complete his/her argument and that Nancy is probably correct on the law, which she obviously is. Certainly you don’t say anything to indicate otherwise, or to indicate pretty much anything. To the extent your comment has any apparent meaning at all it, is entirely directed at the person, so perhaps you don’t like ad hominem arguments being identified because that’s what you do. As the saying goes, Injustice is relatively easy to bear, what stings is justice. You sound stung.

            And since you raised the point, for you the first rule should definitely be to stop using any language at all until you have something coherent to say. If the first rule of holes is to stop digging, then your hopping into a deep pit of your own excavation was a particularly bad choice.

  • Camella

    A Latina from Columbia says she was turned away from the same party
    and gave an interview at the Washington Post. See the Washington Post
    interview Sofia Petros-Gouin. Funny how those who write the minority experience off as “bizarre” and “unlikely,” likely have never had to experience such a thing.

    • Nancy Morris

      Your ad hominem slurs to the effect that I am (or anyone is) incapable of understanding discrimination because I (or anyone) have not experienced it are obviously and nakedly racist. This means you. In fact, this entire story seems more similar to the recent UVA pseudo-rape story perpetrated by (and now threatening to end) Rolling Stone.

      Here is a passage from the Washington Post article to which you cite:

      “A fraternity brother who was at the party gave an entirely different account than Petros-Gouin. Speaking on condition that his name not be used because chapter rules discourage speaking to the media, he said members of the house always ask for Yale IDs and let everyone in until a party gets crowded. After that, a line forms.

      “That night, no one with a Yale ID was turned away before 11:15 p.m., the member said. Yale and New Haven police had responded to noise complaints at the party, and brothers were told not to let anyone else in, to avoid crowding. He said numerous students have said a woman who was denied entrance angrily challenged the man who stopped her, screaming: “It’s because I’m black, isn’t it?”

      “It was uncomfortable, he said, in part because that brother is African American and others working the door at the time are Portuguese and Costa Rican; he described the chapter as racially diverse. He said some in Yale’s black community have called black SAE members “Uncle Tom” on Monday, making them feel like they are being forced to choose between siding with the fraternity or others of their race.”

      To judge by that Washington Post article, SAE and its members involved appear to be well positioned to bring successful civil defamation actions against the people apparently inventing and spreading this story.

      • http://www.presstitutes.org/ Mike Conrad

        But they won’t, because the case is being tried in the media, as these cases usually are.

        • Nancy Morris

          True. That’s one reason why I think SAE and its members involved here should bring civil defamation actions.. Heck, since Petros-Gouin, perhaps of the biggest apparent liar (she’s the Columbia student who provided the Washington Post with a particularly embellished and far-fetched version unlikely to be corroborated in its details by anyone) likely lives in New York, SAE could sue her in federal court. Media outlets and their representatives repeating and embellishing the (apparent on the evidence now available) lies without appropriate qualifiers (a common practice) could be added as defendants as appropriate, converting them (or some of them) from judges to tort defendants. Fun!

          By the way, if Petros-Gouin really did invent her story, I doubt if this is her first time with mega-lying and a background check may turn up some other choice prevarications. That all assumes she’s a liar, of course, which is likely on current evidence but not settled.

  • bmanoc

    Manufacture controversy by the left. I wonder if the story would’ve been big if their was a Muslim frat that wouldn’t let Jews in.

  • Wise King

    In a vigorously PC environment those who make false accusations of this nature feel protected, even empowered. This has become especially egregious on campus. The only appropriate response is to fight back. SAE should consult with counsel and file a counterattack lawsuit against Neema Githere and those who pile on.

    • Leslie DeVotie

      They can’t prove it didn’t happen like she can’t prove it did. There is no case here, unfortunately.

    • kIsS tHe PaNdA

      You can sue for a Facebook post. She is welcome to share her negative experience with this racist fraternity

  • rick131

    Racism is alive and well at Yale.

    • Yirmin

      Yes it is… and it starts with the administration of Yale. How is this any different from the Yale admissions office using race to influence their admissions decisions? Open secret that no one talks about is that some groups are admitted with GPAs and other scores that are well below that is required by other racial groups to be admitted, while others are required to have scores much higher than the average to even have a chance…. Isn’t that racist too?

      • Wolfguy II

        Stop crying about it and work harder, life isn’t easy

        • Yirmin

          To me personally it doesn’t matter. I graduated long ago. I only get annoyed by the hypocrisy of people at Yale yammering about racism when the fact is they are very likely beneficiaries of racism themselves. Unless of course they are asians then they are the ones that have to not only ace their SAT but also manage to slay a dragon and send in photos that show them feeding transgender orphan babies just to get on a wait list.

        • kIsS tHe PaNdA

          This comment is disgusting

      • VapidRapidRabbit

        Didn’t C-Average student George Bush go to Yale?

        • GoldRushApple

          Didn’t Obama get into Columbia and Harvard due to Affirmative Action? I think so.

          And to talk about C-Average students, how about John Kerry? Supposedly Bush’s grades were a little higher than Kerry’s. Whoops.

          • VapidRapidRabbit

            Uh, no. He was more qualified than most mayo students.

          • GoldRushApple

            And he’s going to save the world.

            Vapid you are.

        • Tim Steele

          yes and I think D-average student John Kerry was there around the same time, wasn”t he?

    • Tim Steele

      yes, and it looks like those views are held by students of color and non-color…

  • Amanda Collins

    There are many groups, activities, even colleges that exclude whites. Do you see us crying about it??? No. So sick of the double standard. So what if they didn’t want blacks at their party. It’s their house….its their party. Do whites have whites only colleges??? No. Cuz that’s racist. Stfu.

    • Grace Clarke Lamdin

      You really are just clueless, aren’t you?

      • GoldRushApple

        And you’re full of “awareness”?

    • kIsS tHe PaNdA

      No student organization excludes whites
      If a white student is interested in the Latino, Asian, Black or Muslim student organizations he or she is welcome and in fact it would help him a great deal to get educated

  • Wolfguy II

    You better hope non of them become employers in future..

  • http://www.presstitutes.org/ Mike Conrad

    I’d never want to be in the position of defending SAE, but it’s clear from the consensus of accounts that the alleged ‘incident’ did not happen as reported. Nonetheless, it’s international news. What does that tell you?

    PS: “Maybe it’s time for them to have a conversation about all this,” she said. As someone once noted, “Have a conversation” is SJW for “STFU”…

    • Tim Steele

      very astute point, Mike. It’s called believing the false narrative because the greater good is served. Facts be damned!

  • Leslie DeVotie

    What would they complain about then?

  • Eric Michaels

    This is good, because too many nigger and bindi women at an event judged on the beauty of its people can bring down the entire average. This is widely known, for example in the work of Krune et al., 2011. The bottom line is that too many muds will make the event a downer for everyone. SAE did the right thing here.

    • VapidRapidRabbit

      .

    • sanjuro

      Nice troll Eric.

      Did a black girl make you cry last week?

  • Magenta Henry

    I really hope that Eric Michaels tells us that he’s making a tongue-in-cheek remark before someone stuffs his ball in his mouth.
    Seriously, haven’t academia’s unwritten rules about precious (AND GROSSLY OVERDONE) political correctness led to remarks like Michael’s? It’s as if we’re all stuck in a discourse of Andrea Dworkin OR Strom Thurmond and we can’t find a middle way.

  • Cathy1

    The ugly truth is that most frats just pick pretty girls, pretty white girls, pretty black girls, pretty Asian girls, etc, They don’t care about race.
    And they pick as there is an actual physical count of people due to being fined by the fire department for over exceeding the limit of a house.

    Regardless, if this incident happened, SAE should apologize.
    And maybe, the concept of just picking pretty girls needs to go away too as there are many hurt feelings always involved.

    • Tim Steele

      so it’s discrimination but based on looks, not race. Interesting take on things, Steven!

  • grrson

    Hmm, SAE…. That fraternity name sounds familiar… Oh yeah: http://www.newsweek.com/oklahoma-fraternity-learned-racist-chant-national-sae-event-317438

  • Tim Steele

    I wondered the same thing. Why would these young ladies want to party with a bunch of stuck up, racist white dudes in the first place? Something doesn’t add up, especially when the woman making the claim says the same thing happened last year!