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Yale fraternity under fire for alleged misogyny

The News Leader
October 19, 2010 12:49:09 PM PDT
Members of a Yale fraternity that counts both Bush presidents among its famous alumni and whose pledges were ordered to chant obscenities against women are getting a visit from concerned officials of the national organization.

Delta Kappa Epsilon, which was founded at Yale in 1855, has been under fire since amateur video appeared online of pledges marching through the New Haven campus on Oct. 13, chanting about women in the context of necrophilia and a specific sexual act.

Some students and members of the Yale Women's Center board complained, and Delta Kappa Epsilon International Fraternity ordered the chapter to stop all pledge activities until further notice.

Although chapter leaders have apologized, the national organization said in a written statement that it is sending its director to New Haven this weekend to "set forth a plan of action" for the chapter.

"The sentiments expressed during the new member activity are deeply offensive, and do not adhere to the standards of morals and behavior that we expect of all DKE members," the national organization said in a statement on its website.

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 chapter 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." Yale senior Jordan Forney, the DKE chapter's president, said in a letter in the Yale Daily News that they are sincerely sorry for the Oct. 13 incident and never meant to imply DKE condones rape and sexual harassment.

He was among the participants in a forum last week that drew more than 100 people to discuss the incident and what lessons can be learned from it.

"We were wrong. We were disrespectful, vulgar and inappropriate. More than that, we were insensitive of all women who have been victims of rape or sexual violence, especially those here at Yale," Forney and fellow DKE member Sam Teicher wrote in the letter.

Yale College Dean Mary Miller said DKE's willingness to accept responsibility for the incident gives the university a chance to talk frankly about recognizing and preventing sexual harassment.

However, she told students in an e-mail that any disciplinary action against Delta Kappa Epsilon members or pledges - if taken - would be confidential under federal law and university rules.

Forney declined comment Tuesday beyond statements in his letter when contacted by The Associated Press. Doug Lanpher, executive director of the national DKE office, did not immediately return a call for comment.

DKE, which is popular among Yale athletes, has been considered one of Yale's most prestigious fraternities - both because its roots are there, and because it's the only fraternity chapter at Yale that has never gone inactive.

It's also been in the headlines for tragedy: in 2003, four members died and five others were injured when their vehicle hit a tractor-trailer on a Connecticut highway as they returned from a DKE pledge event in New York.


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