A popular Yale fraternity that lists George W. Bush and Dan Quayle as alumni has come under scrutiny after fraternity pledges marched on campus last week shouting obscenities offensive to women.
The fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon, has now been asked by its executive director to suspend all pledge activities on the New Haven, Conn., campus.
"DKE has instructed the Yale Chapter to discontinue all new member activities until further notice," read a statement posted on the Delta Kappa Epsilon International web site.
DKE "strongly condemns the actions taken by some members of our Yale Chapter last week. The sentiments expressed during the new member activity are deeply offensive, and do not adhere to the standards of morals and behavior that we expect of all DKE members."
In a YouTube video that surfaced this week, Delta Kappa Epsilon pledges were seen in the inflammatory pledge ritual shouting chants such as "My name is Jack, I'm a necrophiliac, I (expletive) dead women," and "no means yes; yes means anal." The march took place at night inside a courtyard near a freshman women's dorm.
"It doesn't look like it's from Yale campus, so I was really shocked," Shuang Shao, a Yale graduate student, told ABC affiliate WTNH.
The uproar prompted university officials to hold a hastily planned open forum last week with 150 students, including many from the Yale Women's Center. Dean Mary Miller attended the forum and equated the chants to sexual harassment, according to the Yale Daily News. DKE fraternity members also used the occasion to apologize for the incident.
"They knew immediately that it was a bad decision and they regret it," Doug Lanpher, executive director of the Delta Kappa Epsilon, told theYale Daily News.
But the apology is not quelling criticism from some on the Yale campus. Broad Recognition, a feminist magazine on campus, is soliciting donations from Yale alumni and current students to help fund a full page advertisement in the Yale Daily News' Parents' Weekend edition.
The ad will call for stronger administrative action against the leadership of DKE and for school President Richard Levin to publicly denounce the incident.
"This threatening behavior contributes to an unsafe environment for both men and women, an environment in which sex is treated as conquest," a proposed version of the ad reads in part. "It is time for Yale to take action to address the culture around sexual speech and acts on campus."
Delta Kappa Epsilon was founded at Yale in 1844 and has a long list of noted alumni, including both Bush presidents, and Quayle, the former vice president, according to the organization's web site. Actor Billy Crudup was also a member of the fraternity when he attended the University of North Carolina, the web site says.
DKE, long considered one of Yale's most prestigious fraternities, is popular with campus athletes and is the only fraternity chapter at Yale that has never gone inactive. DKE was also in the news in 2003 when four of its members were killed in an automobile accident on a Connecticut highway following a pledge event in New York City.
Calls to DKE headquarters in Ann Arbor, Mich., were not returned.
After complaints from some students and the Yale Women's Center board, the national leaders of Delta Kappa Epsilon have scheduled a meeting with the Ivy League school's chapter this weekend. Its director will visit New Haven to discuss the incident.
"I'm sure they didn't actually mean to do that, didn't mean to be serious," Yale freshman Owen Symington told WTNH. "But probably wasn't good thing to be saying."
Along with the apology and the reprimand, there may be disciplinary action taken, according to Yale Dean Mary Miller. Miller issued a statement "expressing my outrage that such words were shouted on this campus."
"What is important to recognize is that DKE has accepted responsibility, opening a new level of discourse on the issue of sexual harassment," the statement reads. "This is an opportunity to seize."