Disturbing news from Yale

A reader writes:

Last Thursday night, pledges to the DKE fraternity at Yale marched through various central and public spaces on the Yale campus chanting. Among the slogans they repeatedly shouted were “no means yes, yes means anal.” Footage of the incident is available online both on the Yale Daily News website and YouTube.

Incidents of this sort seem to occur every 2-3 years at Yale. The last such incident involved twelve initiates to another Yale fraternity, Zeta Psi, who posed with a sign reading “Love Yale Sluts” and shouted various slurs against women in front of the Yale Women’s Center in January 2008. The presence of the Zeta Psi initiates was so intimidating that one Women’s Center member felt barred from entering the building.

Both DKE and Zeta Psi have issued public apologies. But the apologies have been to the Women’s Center, not to women at Yale. And, beyond holding forums to discuss the problem, the Yale administration has yet to take any clear action to prevent the problem from recurring or to improve the working environment for women on campus. One of the arguments that was advanced in 2008 for the administration’s apparent inability to act was that fraternities are “private” entities, not part of Yale, and are therefore outside the purview of Yale as an academic institution. Although the administration has made it clear that they do not condone such behavior, no action has taken to penalize either the students or the fraternities.

The Yale campus continues to be an unfriendly place for women to study. Witness, for example, a couple of the online reactions to one of the Yale Daily News pieces on the DKE incident:

“I still don’t understand why ranking women (or men, or cars, or cows) by attractiveness constitutes misogyny.” (This was in reference to the “Preseason Scouting Report”, which ranked the women (and only the women) of the class of 2013 by physical appearance.)

“Promoting sexual violence is not necessarily misogyny. Even the most evil rapists are not necessarily misogynistic.”

For more, see http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2010/oct/15/womens-center-board-members-responding-maturely/ and other YDN articles.

Where are the Yale faculty, residential advisers, Deans, etc in these online forums? Why is no faculty member stepping up to educate and censure blatantly misogynistic remarks and behavior? (I would certainly feel compelled to do so in the event of a similar discussion about hate crimes at my own institution.)

Until this problem is addressed, I don’t see how I can in good faith recommend the Yale graduate program to my undergraduate advisees.

We’d welcome any further information about this from our readers.

7 thoughts on “Disturbing news from Yale

  1. How depressing and disturbing to think that men (some, anyway) feel so threatened by women …… Are they really feeling so insecure in their own abilities? Do they really need to make themselves feel better about themselves by behaving this way?

  2. At my place years ago the Chi-Rho fraternity burnt a cross on the beach–claiming that it was the symbol of their organization. Of course they knew that this was what the Ku Klux Klan did.They did it because it was naughty–because they didn’t realize just how naughty it was.

    That seems to me what’s going on here.

  3. H.E., Do you believe that the cross-burners didn’t realize *how* “naughty” it was? (Isn’t “naughty” a word that connotes “what frumpy people get upset about”, without implying any level of harm or wrong?)

    A more in-depth discussion of the Yale incident here by a feminist historian, and more on the ways in which hazing depends upon more and more overt acts of transgression:

    http://tenured-radical.blogspot.com/2010/10/bros-before-hos-fraternity-hazing-lows.html

  4. Let me be perfectly clear: I am not condoning either fraternity cross-burning or the activities of the DKE fraternity at Yale. But I think it’s important for us, for people of good will who want to put a stop to this to understand what’s going on.

    After the cross burring at my place I was livid because I’m older, remember the civil rights struggles, and come from a place back East where racial segregation was institutionalized during my childhood. I was horrified when a couple of these shits showed up in my logic class wearing Chi-Rho tee shirts. How could they have the gaul to advertise that they were this junk, this garbage who did this stuff?

    But I realized that growing up in California in the 1990s they just didn’t get it. To them it seemed to be no more than being naughty, opposing ‘what frumpy people get upset about’ because they just didn’t see what I saw. They just thought they were just being naughty.

    I really believe we’ve got to get it across that this misogynistic behavior isn’t just being naughty, that ti does real harm, and that it isn’t just a matter of sticking it to frumpy moralists. How to do that I don’t know, but that I think is what needs to be done.

  5. Regarding these lines: “The Yale campus continues to be an unfriendly place for women to study. Witness, for example, a couple of the online reactions to one of the Yale Daily News pieces on the DKE incident …”

    It is worth pointing out that anyone can comment on articles at the Yale Daily News, and there are frequently posters there who are not students. Not saying that the posts you quote are NOT students, just that we don’t know that they are.

  6. Does anyone have any sympathy for the men involved here? Treating others as inferior is a great way to instill group cohesion and peer bonding, as well as being a great way to mask ones insecurities.

    A lot of these men are clearly insecure and lonely, and displayed that through a vicious but likely likely unintended act of hate. Many of these men hate themselves, misunderstand their own sexuality, and are merely reaching out in their formative years. We ought to have pity on these men, who are clearly living lives of dishonesty and self-contempt.

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