On the morning of Oct. 5, the News broke a story reporting new allegations of sexual assault against Saifullah Khan ’19, raised by Jonathan Andrews. The administration responded with silence. A whole four days later, University President Peter Salovey sent a campuswide email titled “Update on strengthening Yale’s community of learning,” a 751-word piece that made no mention of Kavanaugh or Khan — even as those two names plastered the News’ opinion pages, fueled conversations in dining halls and forced themselves into the campus psyche.
Contrast this response with Salovey’s immediate and passionate campuswide email regarding the Department of Justice’s investigation into Yale’s admissions policies on Sept. 26, sent out hours after the news broke.
This past weekend confirmed for the Yale community what so many of us had already suspected, what so many of us had already known. Yale students cannot trust our administrators to take anything more than reactive action, to pick up the pieces of their mistakes rather than preventing those mistakes in the first place. We learned this lesson back in 2015, when students assembled under the banner of Next Yale demanding greater diversity and inclusion on campus, the culmination of years of frustration felt by students struggling to engage with unresponsive administrators. The protests consumed Yale. What we learned then was that we had to march to Salovey’s house before he would fund our cultural centers and rename what was then Calhoun College.
What we know now is that Yale won’t protect us. Sexual misconduct has dominated discourse on campus since at least 2011, when Delta Kappa Epsilon pledges chanted “No means yes, yes means anal!” in front of the Yale Women’s Center.
Since then, we have heard nothing regarding Yale’s investigation of DKE, an investigation that was announced by Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun on Feb. 22, around seven and a half months ago. That situation has since been addressed — not by administrators, but by DKE’s new landlord, who decided not to renew the fraternity’s lease on its two Lake Place houses, due to concerns regarding misconduct.
As sexual assault allegations rose against Kavanaugh, one of which allegedly occurred on Yale’s campus, the administration has pursued a path it perceives to be neutral. As Chun wrote in an email to Yale College students on Sept. 28, “I will not be issuing a statement about the Supreme Court nomination. I will devote myself to building a campus where you can thrive and engage deeply with your education and the community around you, free from harassment, intimidation or assault of any kind.”
Even if you agree that Yale administrators like Chun should be neutral on political issues like the Supreme Court nomination, Yale administrators have not devoted themselves to building a campus free from assault or intimidation. In fact, they’ve done little to nothing. Instead, they’ve stayed silent on well-known accusations of sexual misconduct raised against professors like English professor Harold Bloom, Spanish professor Roberto González Echevarría and philosophy professor Thomas Pogge.
Take the case of Pogge. Before his time at Yale, he was a tenured professor at Columbia who had been previously disciplined after accusations of sexual harassment were brought against him, per the New York Times. Yale hired him in 2008, the same year Salovey transitioned from dean of Yale College to University provost, despite knowledge of past accusations of misconduct. In 2010, Pogge was accused of sexual misconduct by Fernanda Lopez Aguilar ’10, who alleged that he had groped her and made inappropriate remarks. More accusations were levied against Pogge after Aguilar spoke out. Salovey, who was provost at the time, oversaw the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct, or UWC, which found insufficient evidence of sexual harassment. Aguilar appealed the ruling, which was rejected by Salovey, a questionable move given that the administration knew that Pogge had been disciplined for sexual misconduct at Columbia and shouldn’t have been hired in the first place.
We have also heard little to nothing from the administration regarding Saifullah Khan ’19, who went on trial last February on charges that he raped a fellow Yale student. After his acquittal in criminal court last March, Chun allowed him to resume classes this summer, even as the UWC continued to investigate his misconduct (an investigation that has dragged on for over 180 days and is still ongoing).
As the News reported just yesterday, Chun has since imposed an emergency suspension on Khan, an issue that he has not made common knowledge. Chun issued the suspension only after the News reported on new allegations by Andrews, combined with protests by student activists regarding sexual assault. What is more concerning to us is that Andrews attempted to file new complaints of sexual assault with the UWC in early August. At the time, Yale officials informed him that they had no jurisdiction over the case. Why does this matter? Because it means that Yale administrators have known about these new sexual assault allegations against Khan for months. They knew before the News released the story. They knew as they actively allowed Khan back onto campus. They knew, yet chose to suspend him only after students began to speak up. They knew, yet chose to suspend him only after students knew, too.
Salovey and Chun will be quick to respond that they have, indeed, addressed these issues. Salovey sent out an email on Sept. 25 titled “Sexual Harassment and Misconduct” while Chun attended an undergraduate rally against Kavanaugh the next day. But we as the News believe that they, alongside other administrators, are not doing nearly enough. As a community, we need more than canned emails telling us how “such behavior has no place on this or any other campus.” Instead, we need them to remove Pogge from his position of power.
We need them to address accusations against Bloom and Echevarría. We need them to release the findings of the DKE investigation. We need them to consider stricter punishments for students found responsible for sexual assault — over two years have passed since Yale expelled a student for sexual assault, (according to Yale’s semi-annual reports on complaints of sexual misconduct) even though the UWC continues to find students responsible for Title IX violations such as “penetration without consent.” We need them to publicize information from Yale’s Title IX office about the extent to which students of color and LGBTQIA+ students are more at risk of sexual misconduct relative to their white and heterosexual classmates. We need Salovey and Chun to let us know they are listening, through in-person interaction. We need them to meet us more than halfway, to do more than put their number at the bottom of an email and invite us to call them.
We came to Yale expecting an administration that would be emblematic of our world-class institution, one that is at the forefront of tackling difficult issues our society faces, regardless of the political climate. We did not expect to meet an indecisive and often frustrating group of leaders.
The administration can and should change. But, in the meantime, we will have to protect ourselves. If we know anything about the Yale administration, it is that we can’t trust them to take proactive action — rather, that responsibility falls on us as the Yale community. As the News, we acknowledge that we are not exempt from this responsibility to call for reform. We must make our own environment at the News more hospitable to all genders, helping to create a healthier campus climate.
The Yale Daily News stands with survivors on this campus and around the world. We support you, and we will amplify your voices in this discussion. We echo the words of an anonymous poem left at the Women’s Table this past weekend:
“Dear Survivor, I believe you. The world believes you. I believe you when you choose to tell your story. I believe you if you choose never to tell your story. I believe you because you deserve to be believed. I am learning to believe me too.”