Today an email went out to members of the Yale community updating them on the findings of a task force formed in response to members of the fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon chanting phrases like "No means yes, Yes means anal" in October. Instead of downplaying the incident, the university says it plans to take steps to change the culture on campus.
Mary Miller, Dean of Yale College, writes:
In the wake of the offensive and disruptive chanting by the DKE fraternity and its pledges on the Old Campus last October, I charged a task force with evaluating the recommendations that came from the community regarding verbal harassment and other sexual misconduct on campus. Professors Sally Promey and Alicia Schmidt-Camacho chaired the task force and delivered a report to me in December 2010. Their written recommendations have now been reviewed by the assistant and associate deans of Yale College, the Council of Masters, the director of the SHARE Center, the ad hoc committee on hazing and initiation chaired by Master Judith Krauss, and the ad hoc committee on freshman orientation.
The central recommendations of this task force collectively call for sustained, coordinated attention to the ongoing education and prevention of sexual misconduct at Yale. The recommendations call for:
1. Expanding the pool of well-supported, knowledgeable student educators
2. Raising the level of student knowledge through mandatory educational programs
3. Providing more education and guidance for administrators and faculty
4. Expanding professional education resources
5. Developing clinical services for students accused of sexual misconduct
6. Forming a standing committee to evaluate Yale's sexual misconduct education, intervention, and response strategies
Implementation of many of the task force recommendations has already begun. We are focusing first on freshman orientation, including augmented education and training for freshman counselors and peer liaisons who work with first year students. We will also work consistently with the upper classes through peer educators. Faculty and administrative resources are being developed first through the residential college deans and masters, the cultural center directors, and departmental chairs, DGSs and DUSs. Starting in fall 2011, registered student organizations will be asked to delegate officers for training in identifying and intervening in patterns of sexual misconduct; these student organization delegates will also be tasked with responsibility for their respective student organizations' behavior in this area. Finally, a new University Committee on Sexual Misconduct is being formed and will work closely with the Yale College Dean's Office to develop continuing strategies of education and response so that together we can fulfill the task force's charge.
Neither the task force recommendations nor the implementation measures represent a conclusion to our work on sexual conduct and misconduct. We recognize that members of the Yale College community need to continue to engage in difficult conversations as we move to a culture of greater respect for one another. We know we have work to do to transform our community's understanding of all of the issues at stake, and we are taking steps to encourage such dialogue as part of the routine operations of the College.
In the report, which is available here, the task force basically says there should be more education throughout the Yale community, as well as more resources to help faculty and students deal with sexual misconduct.
There's no revolutionary solution proposed in the report, not that you'd expect a nine page overview to solve the problem of sexual harassment and assault on college campuses. We can't know how effective Yale's actions will be, but it does sound like the university is striving to come up with a variety of real solutions to combat sexual misconduct, not just adding another useless event to freshmen orientation.
The men of DKE were just trying to say something outrageously stupid and offensive to get attention (presumably they aren't actually necrophilia enthusiasts). The chant itself was just idiotic, but the reason so many people were deeply disturbed by it is that it's indicative of the way more serious sexual assaults are joked about and shrugged off on college campuses.
Many universities would have formed a committee, then made sure that the report didn't come back until months later when everyone had forgotten about the incident. To Yale's credit, it's responded in less than six months with specific ways to beef up programs that combat sexual harassment and violence. Rather than chalking up DKE's behavior to (extremely privileged) boys being boys, it appears the school used to controversy to have a real conversation about how to combat misogyny on campus. It certainly won't put an end to anti-woman attitudes, but it's heartening to see administrators acknowledge the problems of rape culture and try to do something about it.