Light & Verity

Frat chants and their aftermath

A group of Delta Kappa Epsilon pledges caused a storm of controversy this fall when they walked the Old Campus in an October initiation ritual, shouting crude slogans making light of necrophilia and rape. (The most-quoted example: "No means yes! Yes means anal!") The incident was documented on videotape and condemned by the Yale Women's Center and other campus groups.

The fraternity quickly apologized in a letter to the Yale Daily News—in which they called the chants "disrespectful, vulgar, and inappropriate"—and at a Forum on Yale's Sexual Climate arranged with the Women's Center two days after the incident. But the issue did not die quickly, as students, administrators, and alumni all wrestled with how to respond to a public display that many found offensive.

Alumni organized an online petition denouncing the behavior and calling on President Richard Levin '74PhD to do the same. "As alumni, we are concerned that Yale is allowing an environment to grow in which these incidents are seen as isolated and trivial, rather than as serious issues warranting university response," says Sarah Anne Minkin '99, one of the organizers of the petition, which drew nearly 2,000 signatures.

Levin and Yale College dean Mary Miller '81PhD responded in a statement that said, in part, "We will confront hateful speech when it has been uttered, and we take this opportunity to do so in no uncertain terms: no member of our community should engage in such demeaning behavior." In a separate statement, Miller, citing Yale's official policy on free speech, said, "We do not censor speech." But she applauded the facts that "the larger community has … held [DKE] responsible and accountable for their actions" and that "DKE has accepted responsibility."

Miller would not comment on whether any students had been disciplined, and she noted that any disciplinary processes for individuals are confidential. DKE is not a registered student organization at Yale.

In the wake of the incident, the national DKE fraternity told Yale's chapter to suspend pledge activities and initiation of new members. The News reported in December, however, that the suspension had been lifted after less than a month. The national fraternity has not responded to inquiries about the claim.


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