Yesterday, Lisa W. Foderaro wrote in the New York Times that Yale administration has resolved to suspend their Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity chapter from participating in activities and communication restricted to campus-recognized organizations for five years. The punishment comes from the fraternity’s action’s during 2010’s fall pledge season. To sum, a group of D.K.E.’s members gathered outside Yale’s campus Women’s Center–who, among other feminist causes, seeks to provide a haven for students affected by rape–and shouted a chant undeniably and jubilantly referring to disregard of a woman’s consent in sexual ventures: “No means yes! Yes means anal!”
For more information on this fraternity’s history of violence, rape chants, mistreatment of women, and ties to the Bush family, I highly recommend checking out masculinity studies scholar, Michael Kimmel’s, coverage over at the Ms. blog.
My opinion is, especially given that this is not the first time this frat has uttered such detestable chants on campus, the punishment is insufficient. But that’s not the bit of news in the report that’s making my blood boil most. In covering and commenting on this case of barbaric Ivy League misogyny, we must remember that fraternities and sororities are national–and sometimes international–organizations. As such, many very different incarnations of D.K.E. exist within our own country, so until others are proven guilty, we must limit ourselves to criticizing the Yale chapter. However, Foderaro quotes the following gems from Doug Lanpher, the organization’s international executive director:
It’s disappointing for us because we want to be considered a positive contributor to the Yale culture and the whole scene at Yale. We’ve corrected the situation. 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?
Lanpher clearly prioritizes the image and wellbeing of his fraternity over the issue that DKE’s actions and attitudes condone sexual violence against women. His lack of concern for those hurt and disturbed by the chants is reminiscent of the priorities expressed by neighbors of the 11-year-old girl who was gang raped by 18 boys and men in Cleveland, Texas earlier this year. In early March, nearly all of the interviewees were most upset that the convicted boys would have to live with this for the rest of their lives, and that the “scandal” was destroying their community. There were no mentions of concern for the victim or her family. The primary purpose of punishing these verbal and physical actions is to prevent future victims of sexual violence from becoming victims, and to serve justice to present victims. Any differing priorities represent a lack of understanding of the deep roots of rape culture in our society.
Lanpher proves that his mind is fully submerged in rape culture via his belief that a six-week suspension of the fraternity “corrects the situation.” The situation is that these college men, who are supposed to be exceptionally bright and upstanding citizens, have sick and merciless feelings about the rape of women, feelings that surely do not subside when they part from their frat brothers. The situation transcends the D.K.E. organization; it is bigger than that. If Lanpher or any of the fraternity’s administrator’s cared about those affected by the actions of these men, they would stick the D.K.E. brothers into some sort of attitude rehabilitation boot camp, and would suspend the fraternity for much longer than six measly weeks.
At this point, I believe Lanpher should also issue a personal apology to those negatively affected by the rape chants on Yale campus. If you agree, or you simply want to give him a piece of your mind in response to his heinous misunderstanding of the problems with Yale’s D.K.E. chapter, you can find his contact information here.