The Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity chapter at Yale University caused an uproar during activities associated with one of their pledging rituals. According to a report in The Chronicle of Higher Education, upperclassmen led new members in chants that were offensive and demeaning towards women. In the aftermath, the chapter president sent out a formal apology to the university, women’s rights groups on campus, and anyone else that the stunt may have offended.
While this behavior is a travesty for everyone involved and a terrible incident that makes the entire Greek system look bad, the way some subscribers to The Chronicle’s website have responded to the report has also been unkind and often based in misinformation. Individuals who have commented on the report have called everyone that is involved in a fraternity a “group of thugs” and “a bunch of middle class white boys crying about needing a place to commune.”
To stereotype an entire system like this is unwarranted and unnecessary, and feels like hate mongering toward the Greek system. The problem with blog responses like the one in The Chronicle is that there is no filter to what people can say, and no one can see who is commenting, as often real names are obscured behind electronic aliases. Let’s not forget that this comes from readers of The Chronicle of HIGHER EDUCATION (emphasis mine), and so one would expect the comments to be informed by a certain amount of understanding about the reality of Greek Life—the good and the bad—by virtue of the readers’ daily involvement on college campuses around the country.
Behavior as displayed by the Delta Kappa Epsilon chapter at Yale qualifies as hazing, which is prohibited at every reputable college and university. There are strong laws against hazing in any way, shape, and form. Every national fraternity prohibits hazing. However, incidents like the one at Yale to show that hazing is still ongoing, and this is admittedly a bitter pill to swallow.
So now the question is, rather than posting generalized attacks against Greeks on the internet, how should we respond to a fraternity that is hazing?
First and foremost, the health and well-being of hazed victims should be taken care of. These young men were embarrassed in front of the entire Yale student body. Providing access to counselors and involving the campus administrators in the healing of the chapter is one of the first steps.
Next, the local organization guilty of instigating the hazing should be dealt with. There have been cases of hazing when a chapter has been forced to leave a campus, and officers and those taking part in hazing given jail sentences. Unfortunately, hazing often comes from a habit of poor behavior stemming back many years. So, while it is a sad thing to see a fraternity evaporate, one might say that the members took the first steps in dissolving their brotherhood when they began hazing in the first place.
To his credit, the President of Delta Kappa Epsilon at Yale, Jordan Forney, apologized to the news in an email saying that the actions were “inappropriate, disrespectful, and very hurtful to others.” While this is a step in the right direction, it still cannot fix the damage done. The chapter should hold seminars and presentations to teach members about the issues of hazing, and help make sure that other chapters do not commit the same errors in behavior.
Hopefully the university and Delta Kappa Epsilon will take the appropriate actions to solving the hazing problems, and make sure that this type of unacceptable act will never happen again on the Yale.
We should also not ignore the public comments about this incident on The Chronicle’s website; the accusations made about Greek Life are incorrect and misinformed. However, we, as Greek members must make it our job to prove these type of comments wrong by ending hazing all together, and keep pushing to make sure that the positive steps of members are brought to light. μ
Alex Woods ‘12
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