Wa Liu

With new, conflicting details emerging around allegations that members of Yale’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon racially discriminated against partygoers at an event at the fraternity’s house Friday night,  University administrators are working to determine the authenticity of the claims.

At the party, according to a Facebook post Neema Githere ’18 published the next day, a brother at the door of the house allegedly turned away a group of women of color, telling them the party was for “white girls only.” Although Githere was not in attendance Friday, her claims have sparked outrage on campus and attracted widespread attention from national media sources, including The Washington Post. Still, leaders of Yale’s chapter of the fraternity continue to categorically deny all allegations of racist conduct.

Dean of Student Engagement Burgwell Howard said he has been in contact with six to eight students who were present for the incident in question, and he is working to find out what happened. Howard said he has also been meeting with residential college deans, freshman counselors and Yale SAE leaders, who are conducting their own investigation.

“If this did happen, and it sounds as if it may [have] — and I’m looking for confirmation on that — what do we do?” Howard said. “If there is a violation of policy, then that would be something that we would refer to the Executive Committee, like any other violation of University policy.”

Howard added, however, that there are challenges associated with putting University sanctions on a group that officially operates independently of the University, even if many Yale students are a part of it. In February, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway announced that SAE would be banned from campus until August 2016 for violating the University’s sexual harassment policies. Holloway declined to comment on the recent allegations against SAE , though he said his office is looking into the matter.

Sofia Petros-Gouin, a freshman at Columbia University who visited Yale Friday night, said she was outside the SAE house between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m. and witnessed a white fraternity member put his hand out to block a group of predominantly black and Hispanic girls from entering. Petros-Gouin said she heard the brother say, “No, we’re only looking for white girls.”

She said the brother then singled out a blonde girl at the bottom of the stairs and said, “That’s what we’re looking for.” He then allowed a group of white girls to enter the party, Petros-Gouin alleged.

Though Yale SAE President Grant Mueller ’17 denied that these events took place, he did describe one racially charged incident and noted that Petros-Gouin could have been mistaking this encounter for the scene she described.

Mueller noted that three SAE members — one Caucasian, one black and one Costa Rican — were manning the front door to the fraternity all night.

“We know at one point the brothers at the door had someone come up to the door, try to get in and she loudly said, ‘It’s ‘cause I’m black,’ [that she was not admitted],” Mueller said. “I believe, according to the brothers who were there at the time, she went downstairs to the sidewalk to a group of students and repeated, ‘They’re not letting black girls in.’ It’s possible that was the same incident, but again nothing was actually said to her along those lines that she can’t come in because she’s black.”

One of the doormen, who asked not to be identified, confirmed Mueller’s account.

Mueller also said that during the time frame Petros-Gouin described, the fraternity would have had no reason to turn her away because there were very few people inside the house. Furthermore, the police were outside the house from 11:20 p.m. to around midnight, during which time Mueller said he instructed the doormen not to let anyone in and to clear the porch. He added that he held  individual meetings with every member of SAE, and that no brothers described an incident similar to the one Petros-Gouin recounted.

A white female student who attended the party and asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue said the attendees were racially diverse. She added that when she arrived at the party sometime after midnight, the doormen were not letting any more students in, but she was let in after she called a friend in the fraternity to come get her at the door.

“I walked in with a woman of color, but I don’t particularly remember if there were many other students of color there or not,” another attendee, who asked to remain anonymous for the same reason, told the News.

Additionally, on Monday the Post quoted a male Yale student, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of backlash from fraternity members, stating that he tried to enter the party sometime after midnight but was stopped at the door while his female friends were let in.

“When I first came up to the door they said, ‘Who the [expletive] do you think you are — you’re clearly gay,’” he told the Post.

The student told the Post he was concerned about friends inside the party who had too much to drink and attempted to follow a different group of friends into the party but fraternity members pulled him back by his hair and arm. In the 20 minutes he spent on the steps outside, he said, a white fraternity member shouted, “White girls only. We’re only looking for white girls.” He said the same brother then physically pushed an African-American female away from the door.

Mueller said a student did try to force his way into the party by pushing over the Costa Rican doorman, but the doorman then stood up and asked him to leave. Mueller said at that point SAE was not letting in any more students as per instructions from Yale Police. Mueller told the News that the New Haven Police had also visited the house earlier that night, warning that SAE would receive citations for an overly crowded and noisy party.

SAE’s national headquarters released a statement Monday addressing the allegations and stating that based on preliminary information the organization has received, fraternity members stopped admitting guests to the house after receiving a noise complaint from the New Haven Police Department about the party.

When asked for specific details about the incident, SAE’s national spokesman Brandon Weghorst declined to answer any further questions and referred to the official statement.

“Our chapter at Yale University is comprised of a diverse group of students, and similarly, the social event included a diverse number of attendees,” the statement said. “However, we will continue to investigate this allegation to determine additional information.”

In light of the weekend’s events, Mueller said he and other brothers will attend an open forum hosted at the Afro-American Cultural Center on Wednesday to discuss the experiences of students of color and the protection of freedom of speech. The forum will be moderated by administrators on the Intercultural Affairs Committee and is titled “[Ad]dressing Appropriation and the Power of Language.” Mueller added that he has also discussed Friday’s events with Githere.

The national organization of SAE was founded in 1856.

  • Nancy Morris

    I’m not sure what Dean of Student Engagement Burgwell Howard thinks he’s doing when he says “If this did happen, and it sounds as if it may [have].” My sources at SAE make a completely compelling case that this incident, especially Sofia Petros-Gouin’s story, is entirely fabricated and cannot and will not stand up to scrutiny.

    SAE would be well advised to bring a defamation action against Petros-Gouin and others involved. A contingent of three Mueller three SAE members — one Caucasian, one black and one Costa Rican — were manning the front door to the fraternity all night supposedly openly telling the crowd outside “White girls only?” Sure, present THAT to a civil defamation court and see what comes back. The University would be well advised not to become the patsy of the people manufacturing this “incident.”

    Remember UVA. And I don’t mean “grape.”

    • MattSchlager

      I’m hung up on the fact that “you have a source inside SAE”? In any event, you make a valid point.

      • Nancy Morris

        Why are you hung up on or surprised by my having sources inside SAE?

        And they are good ones, by the way.

        • MattSchlager

          I am sure they are good. It’s just funny to see that someone would have a “source” inside a frat.

  • theantiyale

    What a mess. Sounds like alcohol was doing some of the mouthing off here. No excuse.
    PK
    M. Div. ’80

    • MattSchlager

      absolutely.

  • http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/lists/the-10-worst-ways-to-die-in-a-hieronymous-bosch-painting-53872 Hieronymus Machine

    So… on a diff TAN, why are social justice folks seeking out the rape-culture centers? No, seriously; why?

  • Yirmin

    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… Isn’t that racist too?

    In the end, if a group of people want to party with whites, blacks or any other group exclusively they have the right to do so… and what person in his right mind would even want to go to a party where they were only being invited in because the administration required the hosts to allow them in… reminds me of grade school when you weren’t allowed to pass out invitations to a birthday party unless you gave one to everyone in the class… pathetic.

  • rick131

    Racism and sexism continues to be alive and well at Yale.

  • Bob

    Sounds like a whole bag of nothing.

  • sy

    “Mueller noted that three SAE members — one Caucasian, one black and one Costa Rican — were manning the front door to the fraternity all night.” They gave up their party to deal with this. The YDN reported this fact that others will omit. That high degree of preparation shows that frats know that they, among others, are being set up for political talking points, including in next year’s elections. They also were defending themselves from political projects of the campus and culture warriors, incumbent party, Washington Post, and NYT to follow. The aggrieved group(s) must have taken videos of the multi-racial entrance, and those being admitted or not. The videos would be the news if they show any of the talking points.

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

    From the story: “He then allowed a group of white girls to enter the party, Petros-Gouin alleged.”

    Not in a million years would a “group of white girls” enter a party at Yale under those circumstances. Never mind the multiple sources which confirm that many women of color were already in the party. Never mind any of the facts, really.

    Why on earth are SAE parties so popular? Particularly among people of color?

  • Hubert_the_Infant

    Does any Yale undergrad ever go to class or study these days, or is every single experience on campus a struggle against racism, sexism, cisnormativism, heterosexism, and/or ablism?

  • Pimphard

    If these girls and the gay guy are lying they should be sued for defamation and suspended from the University. The student from Columbia should also be disciplined by Columbia. SAE should not let this go. it doesn’t add up. I would like to know where these black women who were allegedly told they couldn’t get into the party because they were black are now. I don’t see black women attending Yale as pushovers who need someone woman from NYC to come in and advocate for them and bring this to the attention of the press. It sounds like they were mad they didn’t get into the party and they exploited the fact that they are women of color. These allegations can ruin the future of these young men. If these women are lying the SAE members (especially the black ones) should stand up and speak up in the press against people who falsely allege racial discrimination. It doesn’t help the civil rights struggle when people make false claims. Not to mention, it’s pathetic that these women very likely went to such great lengths to make all of this up simply because they weren’t allowed to enter a party. What narcissism. If the kid indeed made that statement, I have a hard time believing that NO ONE FROM SAE and NO ONE WHO WAS IN LINE THAT NIGHT would stand up and say “I heard it.” It just doesn’t sound realistic. If I were an SAE and someone falsely accused me of saying this crap, I would sue the the hell out of them.

    • Roch Yang

      And let us not forget about the Caucasian males who were set up at Duke years ago. Hopefully, time would reveal to us what really occurred at the fraternity.

  • td2016

    This just in:

    “LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (CBSLA.com) – Six passengers kicked off a Spirit Airlines plane at Los Angeles International Airport Monday night accused a flight attendant of discrimination.

    “The travelers said they were singled out and booted off the aircraft because they are black. ….

    “Witnesses told CBS2/KCAL9’s Tom Wait the passengers were removed from Flight 868 after a white flight attendant accused a member in the group of being a threat.

    It started with confusion over a seat, which the travelers claimed was double-booked. Then police came and escorted the three couples, all black, off the plane.”

  • terryhughes

    This just in, too:

    “In an interview with CNN on Monday, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA)
    said Saturday Night Live is ‘endangering Latinos’ by allowing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to host this weekend’s episode. …

    “'[W]e are upset that Mr. Trump is hosting this rather than just being a skit,” she added. “It is enabling him after he’s said these derogatory comments. And NBCUniversal said to us early on, ‘We’re not going to stand for this.’ So we are simply pushing back at SNL and saying, ‘Uh uh, this is not correct, and you are endangering Latinos when you do this type of of a thing.’”

    “On Monday, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, of which Sanchez is a member, approved a “Statement of Opposition” calling on SNL to disinvite Trump.

    “’Mr. Trump’s racist remarks and his continued rhetoric demonizing Latinos and immigrants has created fear within these communities around the country, many of which are represented in Congress by Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus,’ the statement read.

    “Trump is set to host the November 7 episode of NBC’s long-running late-night variety show.”

  • Roch Yang

    I’d bet the Brooklyn Bridge that ANY all-black association/organisation in a Western nation would never be scolded, let alone punished, for refusing to allow a group of Caucasians to enter a party.For instance, Martin Luther King House at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Ct., was known to have at least a handful of residents who literally screamed death threats at Caucasoids who dared to even walk near the house when I attended P.C.U., er, um, Wes in 1991-1992. I’m sorry for tossing out a bone from the nineties, but that’s all I have at the moment. I will give you more examples of this sort of unfortunate thing later. I promise.