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USA: Yale suspends embattled frat for sexist chants

Publish Date: 18 May 2011
Source: Associated Press
By: Stephanie Reitz

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A prestigious Yale fraternity is being banned from recruiting and holding activities on campus for five years after pledges were ordered to chant obscenities against women.

Yale says it has also disciplined several Delta Kappa Epsilon members and asked the fraternity's national office to suspend the chapter for five years.

The fraternity, which was founded at Yale in 1855, came under fire in October after pledges marched through campus and chanted phrases about sex acts including necrophilia. Chapter leaders later apologized, and the fraternity's national office in Ann Arbor, Mich., ordered them to stop all pledge activities.

Yale says the discipline was necessary to ensure "an educational environment free from harassment and intimidation."

Doug Lanpher, executive director of international DKE office, said he was surprised and disappointed Yale made the announcement because he thought the negotiations were confidential. He said the fraternity had dealt with the matter internally by placing the chapter on probation, ceasing its pledging activities immediately and developing a new pledging process.

"We know it was in poor taste," Lanpher said of the incident. "We don't advocate what they said. We believe that the chapter's behavior has changed."

DKE's Yale chapter — which includes both President George W. Bush and his father, President George H.W. Bush, among its alumni — isn't the first fraternity at the Ivy League school to come under fire in recent years.

In 2008, the Zeta Psi chapter apologized after pictures surfaced on Facebook showing 12 pledges posing in front of the women's center with a sign that read, "We Love Yale Sluts."

The move against DKE comes as federal civil rights officials investigate complaints by Yale students that the Ivy League university has a sexually hostile environment and failed to adequately respond to sexual harassment concerns. The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights confirmed last month that it has begun an investigation at Yale.

Yale has said it will cooperate with the investigation and takes such allegations "extremely seriously." University officials said they have begun programs in recent years to respond effectively to sexual misconduct.

The students cited incidents in which fraternity members chanted "no means yes" on campus last fall, in addition to the earlier "We Love Yale Sluts" signs. They also say incoming female freshmen were ranked on attractiveness.

Yale said after a full hearing its executive committee found that the Delta Kappa Epsilon chapter and several fraternity members had threatened and intimidated others, in violation of its regulations.

Yale declined to provide details about the punishment of fraternity members, citing confidentiality restrictions imposed by federal privacy law and by Yale's policies.

Alexandra Brodsky, one of the students who filed the complaint, said she still didn't have all the details of the suspension.

"But I am glad to see that Yale recognized the gravity of the situation and responded with appropriate disciplinary action," Brodsky said in a statement. "Such disciplinary action and public discussion mark a departure from Yale's previous approach to sexual misconduct, and I am heartened to see the university headed in this new direction."