In a college-wide email Monday, Yale College Dean Marvin Chun condemned the culture of Delta Kappa Epsilon and advised students not to attend DKE parties, citing findings from the long-awaited review released Monday into the allegations of a sexually hostile climate at the fraternity.
The review, conducted by Yale Senior Deputy Title IX Coordinator Jason Killheffer, consists of student perceptions of DKE events and party culture, as well as general observations about social life and Greek life at Yale. Participants described the “debauchery” of DKE parties, including extremely heavy drinking, ogling and aggressive grinding by DKE members, dirty and crowded spaces and “a contempt by DKE members for generally acceptable standards of conduct.”
The report does not mention any consequences or recommendations specific to DKE but offers general community recommendations for improving campus culture, such as mandatory training for fraternities and additional coed social spaces. Chun told the News on Monday that he does not have the power to sanction independent organizations like fraternities, whose chapters are not registered with the University.
“I condemn the culture described in these accounts; it runs counter to our community’s values of making everyone feel welcome, respected and safe,” Chun wrote in his email to students on Monday sharing the review’s findings. “I also offer some plain advice about events like these: don’t go to them.”
In a statement to the News, DKE President Hugh Perkins ’20 said that the fraternity remains “committed to the path of improvement” started by a DKE working group last year. In its own review released last February, the DKE working group proposed reforms to foster a safer environment at the chapter. Many of these reforms — such as sober monitors, coed TIPS-certified bouncers, house renovations to prevent crowding and the termination of alcohol service at 1 a.m. — addressed concerns raised in Killheffer’s review.
“We appreciate the candid assessment given by Dean Chun, hope that the reforms we have implemented have addressed many of the root causes of these issues and will continue to improve,” Perkins said in his statement.
In an interview with the News, Chun asserted that legally, Yale does not have a say over independent organizations like DKE.
“We have say over individual students which is what we emphasized in my letter, but I can’t speak to an outside entity as a group,” Chun said. “I don’t have any power over them.”
Chun appointed Killheffer to conduct the review of campus culture and concerns about DKE on Feb. 22, just two days after the News published an article detailing eight newly reported sexual misconduct allegations against members of the fraternity. In his campuswide email announcing the review, Chun invited students to participate in Killheffer’s review. Killheffer and Director of Employee Relations in Human Resources Andrea Terrillion also reached out to student groups on campus to participate in the review. According to the report, Killheffer and Terrillion interviewed representatives of approximately 15 student groups and spoke with approximately 200 students in total.
DKE brothers were asked to “provide their input during this process and did so,” according to the report. However, the review does not include DKE members’ perspectives and recommendations because they are “clearly documented already” in the DKE working group’s report released last February. Some of the proposed reforms in DKE’s working group report were specific to DKE’s previous party house on Lake Place — to which they lost the lease in May.
Perkins did not respond to request for comment on whether DKE has implemented its proposed reforms.
The review does not include specific incidents of sexual misconduct or address recent sexual misconduct allegations that have been levied against DKE members. According to Chun, the purpose of Killheffer’s review was to identify broad themes about DKE’s climate and Yale’s social culture, rather than to investigate specific incidents, and participants were informed of Title IX resources available to them. The report states that “a few individuals” reported observing specific incidents of misconduct at DKE, including ogling by DKE brothers on the front porch and aggressive grinding on the dance floor. However, the report does not address more severe allegations of sexual misconduct against current and former DKE members that have been published in the News and other news outlets.
Last January, the News and Business Insider reported on rape allegations against two former members of DKE, including the chapter’s former president Luke Persichetti, who was suspended from Yale in March 2017. And last February, days before Chun’s announcement, the News reported eight new allegations of sexual misconduct — ranging from forcible kissing and groping at parties to nonconsensual sex — against DKE members. The female student who filed the complaint against Persichetti told the News she was not contacted by Yale for the review.
Some participants in the review reported that alcohol “does not run out at DKE events,” and the easy access to alcohol encourages students to drink to excess, which increases potential for misconduct to occur after individuals leave DKE parties. In addition, students reported that many DKE parties are open to everyone, making it difficult to hold guests accountable for bad behavior and ensure proper crowd control.
Many of the students’ perceptions of the “DKE identity” emphasized a lack of respect among DKE brothers for their own space and guests. Some participants described DKE as Yale’s “most fratty frat” with a generally homogenous membership that fosters an uncomfortable environment for some students.
“Some students perceived DKE brothers as insular and uninterested in others’ wellbeing or feedback … Some students felt that DKE members demonstrate a lack of basic self-awareness about their own behavior and about what is happening at their events,” the report reads.
The report also includes student observations about Yale’s overall social scene and the role of Greek life. Students reported that the University appears to take a “hands-off” approach to the social scene, which “leaves students on their own to develop and manage these spaces.” Participants also stated that fraternities are the “de facto social environment” for many students and observed that Yale appears to minimize the role of Greek life in its official admissions and recruitment materials.
“The perception among students is that the University is out of touch with the reality experienced by students,” the report reads. “Students reported that fraternities maintain significant social capital on campus, and this creates a sense of exclusivity that students simultaneously desire and deride.”
Many community members recommended that the University require fraternities to complete training on bystander intervention and safe party management. Earlier this year, Yale expanded its Title IX training requirements so that all undergraduates are now required to complete annual training. However, students “stressed the need for more relevant training specific to fraternities.”
In his email, Chun urged leaders and members of Greek organization to participate in voluntary training through the Alcohol and Other Drugs Harm Reduction Initiative. Still, Chun’s email and the DKE review underscore the limitations that Yale administrators face in managing off-campus life.
“Although Yale College makes itself available informally to fraternities and sororities, it plays no formal role in the operations of organizations not affiliated with the university, including Greek organizations,” Chun wrote in his email on Monday. “Nonetheless, I urge all Yale College students who belong to them to take advantage of the training and resources available to the entire student body.”
Participants in the review further suggested that Yale foster more coed social spaces on campus as a “visible alternative” to Greek life. Chun emphasized in his email that he is already working to sponsor more social events on campus, and that the Schwarzman Center will create a “transformative new space for social life” when it opens in two years.
Students also proposed that the University create a “Greek Life Council” for representatives of Greek organizations to meet together, raise concerns with the administration and share best practices. Last fall, Burgwell Howard, associate vice president of student life, began convening nonmandatory Greek council meetings with fraternity and sorority leaders.
Gabriel Roy ’21, communications director for Engender — a student group that advocates for gender inclusion and equity — told the News that Engender was one of the student groups that met with Killheffer. During their meeting, Roy said Engender members advocated for coeducation of Yale’s Greek organizations and “advised that the University assist in their gender integration.”
“Engender is encouraged to see the report highlight the hostile environment of fraternities, specifically DKE … However, the report’s recommendations are reactive, rather than proactively addressing the root cause of sex segregation,” Roy said in the statement. “The only permanent solution is coeducation.”
Carson Handley ’20, president of the Pi Beta Phi sorority, told the News that she did not participate in the DKE review and declined to ask other sorority members if they participated to respect the review’s confidentiality. Handley declined to comment on her personal views of the fraternity, adding that all students “have the right to expect safe and comfortable spaces.” Pi Phi is not mixing with DKE this year, according to Handley.
Alpha Phi President Lexi Hopkins ’20 declined to comment on the DKE review. Kappa Kappa Gamma President Katie Melbourne ’20 and Kappa Alpha Theta President Tara Campbell ’20 did not respond to request for comment.
In his Feb. 22 email, Chun also announced the establishment of the Yale College Committee on Social Life and Community Values, which is tasked with making specific recommendations to improve campus culture. The committee conducted a broad survey of social life at Yale last spring, and over 200 of 2,000 respondents expressed concerns about fraternities with 50 respondents mentioning DKE specifically, according to Chun’s email.
Alice Park | firstname.lastname@example.org