By LISA W. FODERARO
Published: May 17, 2011
A Yale fraternity whose alumni include both President Bushes has been banned from conducting any activities on campus for five years, including recruiting, as punishment for an episode last October in which members led pledges in chants offensive to women, the university announced on Tuesday.
Yale’s publicizing of its disciplinary actions is highly unusual, but officials said their move followed a remarkably public and far-reaching episode. After the chanting in a residential quadrangle by members of the fraternity chapter, Delta Kappa Epsilon, 16 students and alumnae filed a complaint with the federal Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights accusing the university of failing to eliminate a hostile sexual environment on campus. The department confirmed last month that it had started an investigation.
In a letter to students and faculty members on Tuesday, Mary Miller, dean of Yale College, said the Executive Committee, the college’s disciplinary board, had imposed sanctions on the chapter, which is not an official student organization. The fraternity will no longer be able to communicate with students via the Yale bulletin board or Yale e-mail, and its use of the university name will be severely limited.
As for the students who took part in the sexually explicit chanting - which included “No means yes!” - Dr. Miller said federal privacy laws prevented the college from releasing details about individual punishments. But she said the Executive Committee issued penalties after finding that “several fraternity members” had violated undergraduate regulations.
“After a full hearing, the committee found that the D.K.E. chapter, as an organization, one comprised of Yale students, had threatened and intimidated others, in violation of the Undergraduate Regulations of Yale College as they pertain to ‘harassment, coercion or intimidation’ and ‘imperiling the integrity and values of the university community,’ ” Dr. Miller wrote.
The letter said Yale had formally asked the national organization to suspend the chapter for five years. But Doug Lanpher, executive director of Delta Kappa Epsilon International Fraternity, declined to say whether it would do so and called the other restrictions excessive, saying that the organization had already put the chapter on probation.
The Yale chapter, established in 1844, was the first for the fraternity, which now counts 50 chapters in the United States and Canada.
“It’s disappointing for us because we want to be considered a positive contributor to the Yale culture and the whole scene at Yale,” Mr. Lanpher said.
“We’ve corrected the situation,” he added. “We suspended their pledging activities for six weeks so we could review their activities with them. Clearly, the chanting was inappropriate and in poor taste, but does it warrant a five-year suspension?”
Yale’s announcement was a striking departure from the quiet, some would say opaque, way that students are ordinarily disciplined. In her letter, Dr. Miller wrote that the move “may help prevent future incidents of this kind.”
Presca Ahn, a 2010 graduate who signed the complaint to federal officials, praised the university for making its actions public. “It’s good to finally see an exception to the impunity with which fraternities harass and intimidate women every year in their initiation rituals,” she said.