This story has been updated to reflect the print version published on Feb. 23.
Yale Deputy Title IX Coordinator Jason Killheffer will conduct a review of “recent concerns brought forward alleging a hostile sexual environment” at the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun announced in a Thursday afternoon email. The announcement comes two days after the News published an investigation detailing new allegations of sexual misconduct against the fraternity.
In the email, Chun said he has asked Killheffer to look into DKE’s sexual climate and to assess concerns “brought to his attention about the culture of other student groups.” Chun also announced that he has charged the newly formed Yale College Committee on Social Life and Community Values — which will be chaired by Dean Camille Lizarríbar — with “establishing priorities and making specific recommendations on actions to improve our campus culture.” In particular, Chun said, the committee will “review and ensure the adequacy of the College’s processes for addressing concerns raised about student groups.”
“Clearly there are specific concerns about DKE,” University President Peter Salovey told the News on Thursday evening, just minutes after Chun announced the review. “Investigating those concerns is part of what the committee announced today will do. And Mr. Killheffer’s review will focus on DKE.”
Nicholas Hardy ’18, the president of DKE, said the fraternity welcomes the review and looks forward to working constructively with the Committee on Social Life and Community Values and the University’s Title IX officials.
“Every student organization has a duty to help stamp out sexual misconduct in every corner of Yale’s campus, and we are proud to be implementing our reforms to play our role in that fight,” Hardy said. “We’re also encouraged that the administration is taking this issue as seriously as we are, and we will support them every step of the way.”
In early January, the News and Business Insider reported rape allegations against two former members of DKE, including the fraternity’s former president Luke Persichetti, who was suspended from Yale last March until the end of this semester for “penetration without consent.” The other member accused of rape resigned after the release of the Business Insider article in early January, and later that month, his alleged victim filed a formal complaint against him to the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct.
On Feb. 20, the News reported eight new allegations of sexual misconduct against DKE. In addition, 30 CCEs, FroCos and sorority members told the News that the problem of sexual misconduct at DKE goes beyond a few “bad apples” and reflects a wider institutional problem.
Responding to the initial allegations against Persichetti and the DKE member who resigned, Salovey said that, when an individual violates Yale’s standards in a way that cannot fairly be tied to a student organization, the University sanctions the student and not their organization. And on Wednesday — asked to comment on the eight additional sexual misconduct allegations against DKE — Salovey said it was “difficult [for him] to respond to anonymous allegations made to the Yale Daily News,” but that he had asked Spangler to review the reports.
Title IX Coordinator Stephanie Spangler told the News on Wednesday that the alleged incidents reported in the News were “highly disturbing.” But, at the time, she said, it would be difficult or impossible to review and address the situation solely on the basis of anonymous allegations.
Chun said that the work of the initiatives begins “immediately,” while the SLVC’s student advisory group still needs to be formed before spring break. There are no timelines set in stone yet, he added, but he expects the review to produce a report with recommendations about DKE and other student groups.
In an interview on Thursday evening, one of the women who alleged sexual misconduct by a DKE member — who has asked to remain anonymous to protect her privacy — said she is “really glad” the University has decided to take action.
She added that Yale’s initiatives seem like a good first step and that she hopes the committee’s findings lead to “substantive, effective improvements of DKE’s culture.”
Natalie Schultz-Henry ’20 — a co-director of Engender, which advocates for the gender integration of fraternities — said her group met with Lizarríbar on Monday, the day before the new allegations were published in the News.
Schultz-Henry said she and other members requested the meeting after Sigma Phi Epsilon, or SigEp, decided not to offer membership to any of the nonmale students who rushed the fraternity this semester. During the meeting, she argued, Engender members reiterated that the University is complicit in allowing fraternities to discriminate on the basis of sex.
“I think appointing Killheffer is in response to that and the eight women coming forward with additional allegations of sexual assault in the YDN,” Schultz-Henry said. “[The University is] coming out acting like it’s being proactive, but we’ve been pressuring it for a long time.”
Students interviewed by the News on Thursday evening said they support Yale’s decision to investigate the sexual environment at DKE.
“It’s the University’s responsibility to make sure there is a safe climate on campus,” said Allie Forman ’19.
Jacob Yoder-Schrock ’21 said he appreciated that Killheffer, a Title IX coordinator, is handling the investigation. And Seth Bartlett ’19 agreed that there is a clear need for the University to investigate concerns about DKE, adding that “any kind of movement” is a step in the right direction.
According to the organization’s official history, DKE’s first motto was “Gentlemen, Scholars and Jolly Good Fellows.”
Hailey Fuchs contributed reporting.
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