DKE Fraternity Chapter At Yale Comes Under Fire After Pledges Chant Obscenities
Yale Issues Letter
National Fraternity Board Takes Steps to Address the Problem
By Kathleen Megan
A Yale fraternity whose pledges chanted obscenities last week as they marched on Yale's campus has come under the scrutiny of its national board of directors.
Last week, Delta Kappa Epsilon pledges were heard shouting chants such as "My name is Jack, I'm a necrophiliac, I (expletive deleted) dead women," and "no means yes; yes means anal."
Doug Lanpher, executive director for the Delta Kappa Epsilon International Fraternity said the Yale chapter has been asked to suspend all pledge activities. Lanpher is flying out this weekend to talk to the fraternity members.
Lanpher said this is the first "time I've ever faced anything like this. We don't really have a playbook to go by."
He said he has talked to the leaders of the DKE chapter at Yale and "they knew immediately that it was a bad decision and they regret it… The guys from the chapter have been very cooperative, understanding."
He said that he imagines the chanting was "a very bad attempt at doing something funny slash edgey and it went over the line."
In a letter to the Yale community, Dean Mary Miller wrote, "I speak for the University in expressing my outrage that such words were shouted on this campus."
She said that "we do not censor speech on our campus but - in order to trust one another and to be confident in our communications - free expression calls for an environment of civility and respect."
She said that on Friday, 150 students - largely from Yale's Women's Center and from DKE - met together to begin a dialogue in the wake of the incident. She called it "landmark meeting to begin a dialogue that we hope leads to mutual respect."
She continued, in her letter, that some may want to know, "Is someone being punished?" She wrote that all disciplinary processes are confidential at Yale, "from their inception through their conclusion as required under federal law and University policy."
The process, she said in her letter, "is not designed to provide satisfaction to those who might feel aggrieved…"
She said what is most important is that "the larger community has addressed the particular fraternity, DKE, and held them responsible and accountable for their actions."
A letter to the Yale Daily News from members of the Yale Women's Center Board said that the chant "serves as a jarring reminder that Yale is not always a safe place for women. For everyone on Yale's campus, this sets a tone for our community's sexual culture that is at best irreverent, and at worst, violent."
The letter said "the verses treat sexual violence as a joke" and continued, stating "sexual violence is a serious problem: women are raped at Yale. Those rapes take place within a sexual culture that often minimizes, excuses and even enables sexual violence."
Sophia Shapiro, Yale senior, said that it seems that every year, a group of men "say something loudly, publically, and mysogynist and gets in trouble for it… Why does this keep happening every year?"
In 2008, pledges for another fraternity stood outside the Yale's Women's Center holding signs that read "We Love Yale Sluts."
In this case, she said the fraternity was probably trying to be funny and to see how much they could get away with. "It's never going to be Ok to make rape jokes," she said. "It's never going to be funny. It's always going to be offensive and create an environment that feels unsafe."
Michael Jones, a Yale senior who is also a New Haven alderman, said of the DKE fraternity, "I think it's clear that they were just trying to be funny, but the comment showed a total disregard of how repeating those things could make other people in the community uncomfortable."
He said the fraternity has responded with an apology and taken steps to make amends.