Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Rhetoric escalates at Yale

The controversy at Yale continues unabated regarding a picture which depicted 12 students associated with the Zeta Psi fraternity holding a “Yale Sluts” sign in front of the Women’s Center and the wide circulation of this imagery among the student body. In response to this incident, the Women’s Center “presented the administration with the report ten days ago, calling for an overhaul of the University’s sexual-harassment and assault education policies, increased regulation of fraternities, disciplinary action against the Zeta Psi fraternity members and greater resources for the Center.”

In response to the Women Center, the Zeta Phi fraternity offered an apology, but the apology was rebuffed by the Center’s board, and the Center’s Board indicated that they will continue “their ongoing quest to end the “fraternity-sponsored or enabled sexual harassment, assault and rape” that they say they have observed on campus.”

But some members of the Yale community disagreed with the rape characterization-

“[Rape] is an extremely strong word that can ruin a person’s life with a simple accusation, even if the person is completely innocent,” said one fraternity member who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the matter. “The idea that fraternities sponsor [sexual harassment, assault, or rape] is ridiculous. These women should be focusing on the real problems that face women, not just a tasteless picture with a tasteless phrase.”

Reflecting the sentiment of many of those interviewed, Anne Carney ’09 said she found the actions of Zeta Psi offensive. She said she believes “no one didn’t find it offensive.” And Rebecca Stern ’11 applauded the Center’s efforts, declaring that “something has to change.”

But some students, like Aneesh Raghunandan ’11, said the Center has gone too far, blowing the incident out of proportion and using it as a launching pad for pushing through its reform agenda.

Jon Charest ’10, president of Zeta Psi’s Yale chapter, wrote in an e-mail that there has still been no direct contact between the Center and Zeta Psi, but declined further comment.

The dankprofessor assumes that no direct contact means no direct communication. What we have is male fraternity members depicting female students as “Yale Sluts” in the front of the Women’s Center and the Women’s Center’s Board responding in kind labeling the fraternity as being rape enablers.

The dankprofessor adheres to the viewpoint that sexist rhetoric however misdirected does not reflect a fraternity sponsorship of rape. The rhetoric needs to be toned down. We saw the consequences of such rhetoric not being toned down at Duke; righteous indignation and accusations ran amok at Duke.

Is it pipedreaming to hope that Yale administrators would attempt to bring together fraternity members and Woman’s Center Board Members and facilitate some constructive face to face communication?

—–
If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration
to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

February 18, 2008 - Posted by | feminism, fraternities, rape, sexual harassment, Yale University

1 Comment »

  1. [...] on film at Yale It was only a couple of weeks ago, October 13 to be exact, that the dankprofessor blogged on the escalating rhetoric at Yale regarding male fraternity members holding up a “Yale [...]

    Pingback by Rape on film at Yale « Dankprofessor’s Weblog | March 6, 2008 | Reply


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