Yale Students React: 'Behavior Not Acceptable'

They agreed that freshmen email was horrible, action should have been taken.

April 5, 2011 — -- Lawrence Lim said a now-infamous email ranking the looks of freshmen women at Yale University was "completely 100 percent repugnant [and] inexcusable."

"To say that boys will be boys, and because boys will be boys, they should be given an excuse or given free license to do whatever they want," said Lim, a Yale sophomore, "I feel it's just allowed for this string of events that have occurred on campus to repeatedly unfold."

He and three other young men who attend the Ivy League university in New Haven, Conn., talked with ABC News and shared their reactions to the 26-page Title IX complaint alleging a "hostile sexual environment on campus." On Friday, the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights said it would be conducting an investigation.

Three of the men said they knew a girl who had been sexually assaulted. Three of them said they thought the university had let the offenders get away with it.

Lim said that "groups of people, especially women, are being targeted on campus" and that needs to be addressed. "That sort of behavior is not acceptable," he said.

'Introduction to Yale'

"Sobriety, five beers, 10 beers, blackout."

In September 2009, an email greeted the freshman class. Called the "Preseason Scouting Report," it ranked incoming freshmen females' looks by how many beers it would take to have sex with them.

Alexandra Brodsky, a Yale junior, said she had a friend who was so upset by the email that she transferred to another school.

"This was her introduction to Yale," said Brodsky. "She had gone through high school as a star student and all of a sudden she was introduced to Yale as someone who was worth five beers."

Thomas Smyth, a junior, said most of the campus felt the same way.

"The email was totally out of line and inappropriate," he said. "I was struck and amazed by how horrified so many people were. [It was] reassuring that I was not the only one."

Last month, Brodsky joined 15 Yale students and alumni to file the complaint.

The group of 12 women and four men say the 2009 email -- and the university's slow response to it -- is a prime example of how the university has failed to address sexual harassment on campus.

Email Is Tip of the Iceberg

And the complaint says the email is just a very public tip of the iceberg.

The suit also describes misogynistic chants by men at the school, signs that read "We love Yale sluts" outside the school's women's center, and dozens of incidents of rape and sexual harassment about which little to nothing was done.

"Of the three men who have [been] found guilty of sexual assault in the last couple of years, two have been put on probation and one was suspended for a semester," Brodsky told ABC News. "Students have been suspended for two years for cheating on an exam."

Vice President Biden Kicks off Campaign

On Monday, Vice President Biden launched a nationwide awareness campaign on schools' responsibilities and victims' rights.

"Students across the country deserve the safest possible environment in which to learn," Biden said in a statement released before the announcement. "That's why we're taking new steps to help our nation's schools, universities and colleges end the cycle of sexual violence on campus."

Russlynn Ali, the assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education, said that Biden's campaign had been a yearlong effort and that its coinciding with the Yale probe was coincidental.

She said her office would spend the next few months to a year interviewing students, faculty and others to assess whether the campus was a hostile environment.

"We will use all of the tools at our disposal," she said.

Title IX ensures equal rights at educational institutions that receive federal funding. If the prestigious university is found to be non-compliant and doesn't fix the problem, it could lose more than $500 million in federal funding. Ali said a school rarely had its federal funds pulled.

In a paper statement, the university said, "Yale does not and will not tolerate sexual harassment and seeks to build an environment that is supportive of women and men."

Changing the Environment

Hannah Zeavin, a Yale junior and a complainant, said the group of 16 felt it should change the current Yale environment to one that's less hostile to women.

"If everywhere you turn, there's someone who has violated another person's bodily agency and they're near you, how are you supposed to go about having those bright college years?" she said.

"We love our university," Zeavin said. "We want to see that change happen."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.