In Yale Fraternity Pledging, Rape Is a Laughing Matter

Frat antics aren’t particularly known for their sensitivity.

This week, a YouTube clip of a Yale University Delta Kappa Epsilon pledging ritual went viral on campus. Posted Wednesday night, immediately after the events took place, the video documents the DKE pledges marching blindfolded on Old Campus—home to the majority of Yale’s freshman women—shouting chants such as “No means yes, yes means anal” and “Fucking sluts.”

The Yale Women’s Center responded in a statement to the Yale Daily News:

This action by DKE has made public that they see rape as a joke or, worse, something they support. That these calls may have been made in jest should not distract from the fact that they incite violence.

On Thursday, DKE president Jordan Forney made a public apology, calling the chants “inappropriate, disrespectful, and very hurtful to others.” He said the stunt was “a lapse in judgment” and “in poor taste.”

Is this statement enough? Broad Recognition, a Yale feminist publication, urged students Thursday to demand administrative action against the fraternity, whose actions it called “fear-mongering” and “a call to violence.”

“Yale women are not new to fraternity misogyny, nor are we a stranger to our administration sitting on their hands and doing absolutely nothing about it,” the writer of the article, Hannah Zeavin, told the Good Men Project.

Other students think the reaction is overblown. “These chants are not dangerous,” said a comment on the Daily News story.

Do the frat’s actions merit university discipline? More importantly, will a slap on the wrist—which is more likely to occur—do anything to prevent future demonstrations of frat-sanctioned misogyny?

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About Cooper Fleishman

Cooper Fleishman is managing editor of HyperVocal.com. After graduating from Kenyon College in 2009, he moved to New York to follow his dream of book-publishing glory. Once here, he sold dog food on the street and copyedited celebrity-gossip tabloids, finally landing as senior editor of the Good Men Project, where he served for a year before sneaking into HyperVocal. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @_cooper.

Comments

  1. This is sad beyond words for so many different reasons. But you know who this sort of thing both terrifies and incites violence from the most?

    Fathers who have daughters.

    While I plan on teaching my daughter respect and tolerance, I also plan on showing her the results of passivity in the face of oppression in any form. It’s true that Gandhi didn’t physically fight back, but he always fought.

    I’m not Gandhi and I can’t even post what I would do if my daughter was of age and someone spoke these words to her. Actually by then she’ll be trained in kickboxing and aikido amongst other defensive (UL) skills so she can tend to such matters herself. Then, while other people debate whether something could be proven in court as “justifiable cause” she can just deal with it how she sees fit based off her personal reaction and the circumstances of the situation.

    But the bigger truth is that most of us actually live in a world that is often violent and terrifying.

    Change comes about when enough people demand it and see to it that it occurs. It doesn’t come from doing nothing or speculating on matters requiring change.

    People have been punishing people for more years than these hooligans can probably count and it hasn’t changed a damn thing.

    These kids are what? 18-20 years old physically (not mentally obviously)?

    Punishment is not what’s needed.

    Responsibility is what is needed.

    Saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t cut it.

    Future leaders of America someone above said? HA! Not a chance.

    In today’s day and age of instant access information these boys have screwed any hope of a political future. After all your political campaign doesn’t really sustain well when an opponent publishes a youtube clip showing you chanting this sort of stuff. And I highly doubt the female voters are going to buy “I was drunk, young and stupid.”

    However they might accept “I was drunk, young and stupid and in seeing the errors of my ways I went and did an entire semester of volunteer work cleaning the floors and taking the trash out at the local women’s rape crisis center. I also championed an on an campus ethics and values campaign and got most of the other boys involved to do the same. ” or something similar. You know…responsibility.

    Parents who have daughters attending the school should put pressure on Yale and demand that responsibility be taken and amends be made. How? That’s not the parent’s problem, that’s the student’s problem.

    If ANYONE should be expelled it should be whoever put them up to it. These kids are just dupes who need to be made to take responsibility for their actions and make amends so that they actually LEARN from their mistake as opposed to just regretting it.

    But there is another layer to all of this that has to do with us as US citizens.

    One thing I can say having lived abroad from the US for a number of years now is that violating the amendments and rights covering freedom of speech is not the problem here. Taking them for granted is.

    We have become so spoiled as a country it can at times be nauseating. Is this what our soldiers are dying for? To defend “our way of life” and “our rights.”

    The rights of these boys?

    And let’s just skip the entire political mess and go to what’s really important: those soldiers are someone’s children. Most of them being a similar age as the young men in this video. I don’t want to muddy the waters too much here but that we, as US citizens (and yes, this does reflect on us as US citizens), even have the opportunity to do things this stupid is blatant and gross misuse of the privileges we have.

    If these boys were living in Mexico, most of them probably wouldn’t be worrying about punishment from the school or the civil system but that coming from the familial system. And unfortunately, if they offended the wrong girl, a number of them might never be seen again. That’s just a fact of life.

    They are LUCKY at this moment in time to be living in the US.

    The moment you take someone else’s rights for granted, to some degree you have just forfeited your own.

    As a request to the publication, publish the names of the students who participated in it and the name(s) of the students who put them up to it. That might require some investigative reporting, but it will do more to reform these boys then a bazillion comments debating the point.

    Not to compare the seriousness, but merely the necessity to insist upon a change and the respecting of the rights of others, this statement sort of says it all doesn’t it:

    They came first for the Communists,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for me
    and by that time no one was left to speak up.

    • Woobie Tuesday says:

      I agree with making their names public and punishing the organizers of the march. Great post, thank you.

    • If I have read your post correctly…thank you. This was well put.

      Every single one of these boys needs to understand why his actions were wrong, not just cringe and slink away because they got caught doing something naughty.

      • That’s exactly correct.

        We ALL, every single one of us have done something stupid that we regret.

        But did we learn from it?

        Did we take responsibility for it and make good?

        That’s what separates the children from the adults. And I’m not trying to denigrate children either, there are a lot of kids I’ve seen with more responsibility than what showed up at Yale.

        Best,

        Dare

  2. For what it’s worth, DKE pledging has already been suspended and there will be pretty serious consequences.

  3. Organisations that promote sexual abuse have no place at Yale or anywhere. says:

    This fraternity should lose its charter and be disbanded. Everyone that participated ought to be subject to some sort of disciplinary action.

    It is no longer a fraternity, it is a hate group.

    Fraternities can do a lot of good. They are social organizations that can provide structure and support to college students as well as a basis and platform for life-long friendships. But, they are also in-groups and a bit of a mutual-admiration society. Partially because of this fraternity members are more likely (than non-fraternity members) to commit a rape, use coercion, use alcohol as a tool of coercion and to commit a gang rape with other fraternity members. So, a fraternity that openly advocates rape and sexual abuse is making a very believable threat.

    http://www.jstor.org/pss/189763

    http://www.crisisconnectioninc.org/sexualassault/college_campuses_and_rape.htm

  4. What scares me most about this story is that everyone knows that behind every jest is a modicum of truth. Someplace within this chapter, someone within this organization said this in jest, but probably believes at least part of it to be true. Enough to maybe blur the lines that when someone says no, they might really mean yes. That someone has enough influence, that a larger group of people ignored their own better judgment (at least I like to think they had better judgment) to go along. For the purposes of belonging to a group where someone of influence actually believes this to be true.

    What should happen is a boycott of DKE by all the women of Yale and the Greater New Haven area. You want to teach consequences of their actions, women stop attending their parties, stop dating them, stop hanging out with them. By them I mean every single member of that group, because even if it wasn’t there idea, even if they weren’t involved, they did NOTHING to stop it. Who knows what else they will do nothing to stop. Unfortunately, we all know this won’t happen. There will be a party at DKE this weekend full of women and alcohol and soon enough, that person of influence will end up sexually assaulting someone. Judging by the split reaction to just this story, that woman who’s sexually assaulted will probably keep it to herself.

    • By them I mean every single member of that group, because even if it wasn’t there idea, even if they weren’t involved, they did NOTHING to stop it. Who knows what else they will do nothing to stop.

      How do you know that no one complained. Unless you were there or a part of “internal’ discussions you really don’t know what was said so your comment is just speculation. And speculation based upon emotion can be just as dangerous.

  5. Stephanie says:

    As a female college student, I would have to agree that those chants were incredibly inappropriate. It’s not exactly a comforting feeling for a freshman woman to hear a mob of men saying that there is no way of saying no. If I had heard that, even knowing it was done jokingly, I would be completely offended, and honestly, scared. I don’t know any of these guys, and yet they’re telling me that I can’t say anything to stop them if they’ve got me cornered. It is totally insensitive.
    As this is a fraternity, the university should take action. If those are the views of the fraternity, it should be dismantled immediately. Rape is not something to joke about so blatantly on a school campus.

  6. The guys who did this should spend some time answering phones at a rape crisis hotline or volunteering at a shelter for battered women.

    • I have volunteered on a rape helpline for the last 3 years. It is a ridiculous notion to suggest that any of these men should be allowed anywhere near a position that requires a great deal more sensitivity and understanding than they possess. They could do untold damage to somebody phoning a helpline. Yes it would be great if they could learn more about rape and its effects and educate themselves but not at the expense of the women who telephone in their most vulnerable moments.

  7. Natasha Barton says:

    Reeks of publicity stunt to me. Frankly I wld have expected something a little more imaginative. London and I are not amused.

  8. does anyone know the names of the fraternity boys?

  9. About half way down the comments, Daddy Files asks the following question:

    “What culture do you live in that condones rape and misogyny?”

    ARE YOU KIDDING, Daddy Files?

    What culture do I live in that condones rape and misogyny?

    Oh my god.
    “1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted in their life time.” (http://www.rainn.org/statistics)
    “College age women are 4 times more likely to be sexually assaulted” (ibid.)

    Some more edification:

    “Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.
    73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.
    38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.
    28% are an intimate.
    7% are a relative.
    Only 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail.”

    How could all this be the case unless our culture was accepting, explicitly or not, of treating women like shit? Are you suggesting that there is a tiny, tiny number of rapists going around committing acts of violence, and all the many, many good men who would never attempt rape are just POWERLESS to stop them. Wow. That would be great actually. We could go find them and kill them. No – much more unfortunately, rape is, and has ALWAYS, been a horribly inherent aspect of our male-dominated culture, and many, if not all, others.

    And stop, stop, STOP harping on all this LEGAL shit. Who cares what the law says?
    It used to be LEGAL to do a LOT of horrible shit, especially to women. When has the law ever proven itself as something that helps women in the historical perspective??? Sure, some courts award victories to some women, but many feminists would inform your naive ass of the hierarchy that the law constantly upholds, in which men, especially white men, especially rich white men (YALE!!!) are constantly given domination over other groups – women, people of color, the poor, LGBT people.

    Daddy Files, you act like this event occurred in an historical vacuum. You completely decontextualize it by propagating the completely false MYTH that we don’t live in a rape culture.

    Are you familiar with that term: RAPE CULTURE. Because if you’re not, and it certainly appears you are not, then you need to shut your uninformed, violence-supporting (albeit potentially unintentionally) mouth.
    Having even the SLIGHTEST CLUE with regards to the MOST BASIC IDEAS in a discussion YOU INITIATE (!) is usually a prerequisite for people taking your comments seriously.

    –RAPE CULTURE–
    -From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia-

    Rape culture is a term used within women’s studies and feminism, describing a culture in which rape and other sexual violence (usually against women) are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or encourage sexualized violence.

    Within the paradigm, acts of sexism are commonly employed to validate and rationalize normative misogynistic practices; for instance, sexist jokes may be told to foster disrespect for women and an accompanying disregard for their well-being, which ultimately make their rape and abuse seem “acceptable”. Examples of behaviors said[by whom?] to typify rape culture include victim blaming and sexual objectification.
    In a 1992 paper in the Journal of Social Issues entitled “A Feminist Redefinition of Rape and Sexual Assault: Historical Foundations and Change,” Patricia Donat and John D’Emilio suggested that the term originated as “rape-supportive culture”[1] in Susan Brownmiller’s 1975 book Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape.
    In addition to its use as a theory to explain the occurrence of rape and domestic violence, rape culture has been described as detrimental to men as well as women. Some writers and speakers, such as Jackson Katz, Michael Kimmel, and Don McPherson, have said that it is intrinsically linked to gender roles that limit male self-expression and cause psychological harm to men.[2]
    Researchers such as Philip Rumney and Martin Morgan-Taylor have used the rape culture paradigm to explain differences in how people perceive and treat male versus female victims of sexual assault.[3]

  10. a GOOD comment, Holly! :
    http://goodmenproject.com/2010/10/15/in-yale-fraternity-pledging-rape-is-laughing-matter/#comment-2829

    AND:

    Some of a discussion from a different page (http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/shroedingers-rapist-and-the-imagined-right-to-intrude/):

    “Liza-the-second
    October 8, 2009 at 5:45 am #
    Consider: if every rapist commits an average of ten rapes (a horrifying number, isn’t it?) then the concentration of rapists in the population is still a little over one in sixty.

    You know, it never occurred to me before now, but I’ve never seen that “one in six” (or however many) statistic turned around that way, and I think that’s probably the other side of the “how not to get raped” coin. Or… I guess… the same side, but a different part of the etching. I don’t know, metaphor, not my strong suit.

    MY POINT IS:

    When we talk about rape as something that happens to 1 in 6 women, it is something that happens to women. Oh no, women! You have a problem! A women’s problem! That has to do with women! What are women going to do to solve this problem?

    Perhaps if we rephrased that as “one in sixty (or however many) men will commit rape in his lifetime,” the problem might start to look a little different to certain people.

    lucizoe
    October 8, 2009 at 5:46 am #
    I would like to hand this out on the train. Awesome post.

    Starling
    October 8, 2009 at 5:53 am #
    Liza-the-second: I know. Isn’t that horrifying? It’s not even taking into consideration the possibility that some of those one-in-six have been raped more than once. And the one-rapist-to-ten-rapes number is pulled out of thin air. We just don’t know. Because we don’t catch these creeps. We don’t put them in jail. Either there is a staggering number of rapists, or rapists are routinely getting away with numerous felonies. Either possibility is horrifying.

    That, or P. Garrido/B.D. Mitchell et al have some special Santa Claus power that enables them to be in a thousand places at once. Maybe tied to the Homemade Religion? I don’t know.

    Liza-the-second
    October 8, 2009 at 5:58 am #
    …oh that’s cool, Starling, I wasn’t planning to ever sleep again anyway.

    o.o

    In seriousness, though, thank you again for making that point. I can’t believe I never thought about it that way, when it seems so stunningly obvious now. And wow, it kind of makes sex offender registries look like a joke, huh? OMG! There might be a RAPIST in your neighborhood! Well… yeah… if there’s more than a handful of people in your neighborhood, there almost certainly is.”

  11. Acts of violence are not protected by free speech, nor is speech encouraging violence.

    • Thumbs down for a profound misunderstanding of first amendment jurisprudence.

      • In the 1969 Supreme Court case Brandenburg v. Ohio, speech which would be directed to and likely to cause lawless action was banned. So speech encouraging violence against a specific group is banned. However, the issue becomes whether or not this was encouraging violence against women, which these men would make the argument that it was not, just a thoughtless antic.

        I don’t personally believe that these kids thought these sayings are true, but the fact that they are saying them is what’s important. You should never say such things, even in jest. Having someone say these things starts them thinking that they’re true, or at least not wrong.

        • Never mind that the best way to cancel out the importance of a topic is to make fun of it. Arguing against humor never wins, because humor robs whatever power a problem has. Imagine arguing against a comedian about misogyny–honestly, in the end, you’d look like someone arguing with a ten-year-old to the audience. Humor does not lead to serious discussion, and serious discussion is what this frat needs.

  12. I wonder what Yale’s sexual harassment policies are and if Yale women could band together to form something like a class action suit against the fraternity…

  13. Maybe there is something in the water at Yale. I dated a guy from Yale and he turned out not to be a good guy.

    “On Thursday, DKE president Jordan Forney made a public apology, calling the chants “inappropriate, disrespectful, and very hurtful to others.” He said the stunt was “a lapse in judgment” and “in poor taste.”

    I hope all the mothers, sisters and girlfriends of these “men” know exactly what they were doing.

    But you know what’s just as bad? Other men that let guys like this get away with this stuff and stand on the side lines not protecting women.

    Could you imagine a group of girls running throw the streets saying stuff like “ Men are just wallets, take them for all they are worth.” There are things you can say about women, there are things you can do to a woman through the media that you could NEVER do to any other man in a social, ethnic or religious groups.

    • A group of Yale frat boys said reprehensible things on initiation night
      + the one guy you dated from Yale was “not a good guy”
      =/= “there is something in the water at Yale”.

      Yale ’09

    • Ah, yes, women are equal and therefore it’s the responsibility of men to protect them since they can’t protect themselves. If a woman feels intimidated, that’s because of misogyny. If a man feels intimidated, it’s because he’s a coward.

      • I was going to comment to say roughly the same thing. I don’t think the women standing idly by are any more innocent than the men. Some might say it’s scarier for a woman to confront that kind of situation, but I think it would be equally hard for a man to do it.

        Men don’t owe women protection, but good people stand up for other people.

  14. pedrizzle my nizzle says:

    There’s a lot of interesting discussion going on, and I dunno if anyone wants to revisit it, but boys will be boys and call each other faggots and punch each other and eat dirt. I think its part of the developing process. If you remember how you felt when you were younger, it was fucking weird and middle school will always suck forever since its middle school and biology dictates you have hormones making drug cocktails for young developing minds, so you act crazy anyway! If they aren’t doing this, they are hanging out with girls and playing with other gay little boys and dolls. They’re going to yell about fucking sluts and how much dey luv pussy, and run around like psycho pervs. The thing is you can meet in the middle, but only can do that if you also make fun of yourself, and there is an understanding that no harm is meant, it is only in a joking spirit. That way, everyone has a good laugh. If you can’t do that properly, you should then obviously shut your dumb face, and think of something better to say to women, since they deserve nice things, since quite frankly, they’re smokin hot. and gay dudes are awesome too, we cant have complete equality without bearded cock gobblers (<3 waltwhitman). I think ultimately solutions to these issues are solved through education, understanding, and communication, not censorship and Big Sister getting all huffy and puffy (get it? they're feminists!) and suppressing male sexuality instead of redirecting it (come on yale, you're supposed to teach your students not let sexually confused(or disturbed) men loose upon you're student population). It for reasons like this that I think we should change it to humanism (a sweet ass name, same idea) feminism is a shitty word since it lets girls use the "feminism" card, but if its humanism, we can just to instant reverses constantly and actually live in a world that respects people equally. Unite and overcome! Sorry Big Sister, but little brother has had enough.

    • Haervard Yardy says:

      If the frat boys had been saying racist stuff nobody would defend them. I wonder if boys will be boys would be a good enough excuse for KKK style chanting outside a black church for instance? Would that be all good fun and letting off steam?

      Oh yes and Feminism is just fine because it gets to the reality of our nasty little rape culture – something I suspect you’d like to deny or trvialise.

    • Boys will be boys is always a nice excuse for the threat of rape. Good job.

  15. Male organizations that promote an aggressive version of masculinity are going to be considerably more likely to have rape problems. This is true of the military, of fraternities, perhaps of sports teams. I should stress that these are tendencies, not universal maxims–I have friends and family in all of the above groups–but, as tendencies, they are supported by data. (In fairness, I haven’t found much data either way on sports teams.)

  16. Richard Aubrey says:

    Late to this discussion. The headline led me to think there may have been rape involved.
    Apparently not. I guess that’s journalism today.

  17. How ridiculous. Is rape a problem on the Yale campus? How many have been reported? Probably zero. So fraternity antics are just what they are …antics. If you want to see REAL hatred, take a “women’s study” class at Yale, and I’m sure you’ll see more bigotry and fearmongering than you EVER would during pledge rituals.
    I thought this site was to celebrate men…but it’s just another propaganda site for the politically correct, it seems, based on the uncritical inclusion of articles like this.

    • That’s a terrifying thing to say. The number of rapes that occur (and the smaller number reported) on post-secondary school campuses is obscenely high. If you don’t think “No means yes, yes means anal” is hate-filled, you’re blind.

      Let me suggest you imagine a troupe of women with dildos and gay men shout that at you as you head to your job or classes. Feel good? Feel safe?

    • John Anderson says:

      It’s also a site to explore what being a good man is and to challenge men to strive for that ideal.

  18. People that get annoyed about feminists getting annoyed = not really people that have a full grasp on what feminism is. Terming feminists as uppity, picky and easily offended, irrational idealists invalidates what is their argument, and their argument is based on something quite rational and real. To deny that what happened is sexist is ridiculous. Someone else made the point that if they had gone marching through a black neighbourhood yelling about lynching and torturing black people, the reaction the public would have would be a lot different. Call me an uppity feminist- I suppose I see nothing funny about a crowd of people parading through a residence yelling about rape and how it’s awesome. Weird.

  19. wellokaythen says:

    This is in no way an excuse for their behavior, but I would point out that these young men probably make lots of jokes about men being raped, probably lots of jokes about frat members raping each other. This is an outward manifestation of internal stuff that just happens to be directed at nearby women. My theory is that much of this is just overcompensating for their own insecurities about their sexuality. It’s homophobia twisted around into misogyny: “Look how straight I am – I’m yelling that I want to have sex with women whether they consent or not!”

    Men in fraternities and other male-only institutions often express misogyny and hyper-heterosexuality as a way to prove to themselves that they are not gay. They feel the need to compensate for all the homoeroticism inherent in all the things they do to each other — tying each other up while naked, watching each other have sex, being obsessed with anal sex, etc. Think about how many frat initiations involve being tied up, being naked, covering a man’s body in something, decorating his bare skin, dressing him in women’s clothing, etc. It reminds me of hazing you see in the military sometimes. If you ever saw the movie “Jarhead,” you might wonder how you would ever tell the difference between an openly gay Marine and one who isn’t.

    Someone pointed out to me years ago that the stereotypical frat aesthetic – very short hair, baseball cap, preppy clothes, etc., was originally a stereotypically young gay man’s look. Gay men pioneered the whole Abercrombie & Fitch look so popular among oh-so-straight frat boys. If these guys could just accept that they may not be entirely heterosexual, a lot of this garbage would stop.

  20. HidingFromtheDinosaurs says:

    If this happened at my university they would have been in deep, deep shit (our frat boys put up anti-rape posters around campus and serious things can happen to people for hate speech, even when it isn’t organized).
    Quite honestly, I don’t think there’s anything lawful or harmless about something like this and I don’t consider it reasonable to expect anyone, male or female, to stand face to face with a mob like that and try to make them stop.

    Something like this doesn’t come out of nowhere, and it certainly makes me glad I don’t go to Yale (I had actually considered it at one point).

  21. John Anderson says:

    Boys will be boys. I still say and do stupid things to my friends, men and women. The operative word is friends. They’re people who’ve known me a long time, people I trust and who trust me. These chants were not directed at their friends. I don’t know if it was criminal, but it was definitely uncool. One way to check their intentions is to look at their behavior after the fact. Does anyone know if they issued an apology and did it seem sincere? Everyone does stupid stuff now and again, but when you hurt someone, you apologize.

Trackbacks

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