Deniz Saip and Lucas Holter
Since the News reported on sexual assault allegations against members of Yale’s Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity almost two weeks ago, a working group composed of fraternity members has been finalizing a set of recommendations to make the fraternity a safer and more welcoming social environment. This week, DKE will begin discussing those recommendations with campus organizations like Unite Against Sexual Assault at Yale, the Communication and Consent Educators and the Women’s Center.
In an Op-Ed published in the News on Jan. 22, DKE President Nicholas Hardy ’18 and Vice President Andrew Johnson ’18 said they were “appalled and disgusted” when they were first informed of allegations of sexual assault against two DKE members. One of the accused perpetrators is former President of DKE Luke Persichetti, whom Yale suspended for three semesters last Spring for “penetration without consent.” The other accused rapist has not yet been named because there are no formal complaints outstanding against him. In their op-ed, Hardy and Johnson promised that by Jan. 28 the DKE working group would complete a list of recommendations for improving DKE’s culture and seek “brutally honest critique” on adjusting them for a final draft. They also promised that by Feb. 11 their fraternity would submit a full list of changes to the News.
“Our Working Group’s initial report of recommendations for how DKE can host a safer and more welcoming space is now complete and we have shared the first draft with every group that has offered to constructively work with us, including the CCEs, USAY and the Women’s Center,” a DKE spokesman told the News in a statement. “We are very grateful that these groups have agreed to meet with us to discuss our recommendations and to offer honest and candid feedback for how we can further improve.”
According to the spokesman, members of DKE’s working group — which includes the president and vice president of the fraternity — will meet with the CCEs on Monday, the Women’s Center on Tuesday and USAY on Wednesday. The fraternity has also already met with the sorority Pi Phi and will meet with Theta on Monday to discuss ideas for improving its organization. The fraternity has also met with multiple sports teams about their culture, but a representative from DKE declined to comment on which sports teams they have met with and plan to meet with because DKE has not yet asked their permission to be named.
Associate Vice President for Student Life Burgwell Howard told the News that he is encouraged by DKE’s willingness to engage in “serious introspection” and hopes that, in partnership with university offices such as the Office of Gender and Campus Culture and student groups like USAY, “we can help the men of DKE take the steps necessary to improve our campus social culture.”
“It will require the sustained attention of all members of the community to help us make the headway we all believe is necessary to create the healthy and respectful social environment we desire,” Howard added.
According to a statement from Hardy, the fraternity created the working group last November and, after being contacted by Business Insider about sexual assault allegations in early January, requested an investigation by its national organization into the Yale chapter’s sexual climate. A representative from the Yale DKE chapter said that the fraternity is still waiting for its national organization to sign off on publicly sharing the results of the investigation.
Just two days before Hardy and Johnson wrote their op-ed, the News reported that the two victims of the alleged sexual assaults committed by DKE brothers saw the fraternity’s call for an investigation as “a PR stunt” designed to divert attention from a Business Insider story published later that week detailing those two assaults.
The Women’s Center also raised concerns about DKE’s intentions, saying that the Yale chapter should consider whether an internal investigation from its nationals would ensure the fraternity’s accountability to the students who attend its open parties.
“In a recent News article, we were issued a challenge by the Women’s Center in their response to our plans,” Hardy and Johnson wrote in their op-ed. “They raised the transparency of our process for implementing change and asked us to whom we hold ourselves accountable. The answer to that question is everybody; we willingly take up their challenge to conduct this process openly and for the benefit of every student at this University.”
According to Yale’s last semi-annual report on complaints of sexual misconduct, there were 27 total complaints of sexual assault made to the University between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2017.
Britton O’Daly | firstname.lastname@example.org