Posted February 12th, 2019.
BY RACHEL FRAZIN
Three undergraduate students are suing Yale University and fraternities at the university to force the fraternities to “gender-integrate.”
The suit’s plaintiffs, students Anna McNeil, Eliana Singer and Ry Walker, “believed that the most direct route to prevent sexual harassment and assault—and to challenge the gender disparities in social clout and economic opportunity perpetuated by fraternities—was to integrate Yale’s fraternities by gender,” according to the suit’s complaint, which was published in-full by The New York Times.
All three women said in court that they were groped at fraternity parties their first semester at Yale and know many other women and gender-nonbinary students who were sexually harassed and assaulted at fraternity parties and by fraternity members.
David Tracey, who represents NcNeil, Singer and Walker in court, said that currently, men, through fraternities dominate the social scene at Yale, and that his clients deserve equal social agency. He said he does not believe fraternities should be removed, but should instead allow women and non-binary people to join.
“If there’s a ban, it will probably drive organizations even further underground,” he said. “If it’s gender-integrated, we believe that the organizations will remain relatively above ground and can be therefore regulated.”
The suit contends that Yale is complicit in the fraternities’ activities because it began to discourage on-campus parties in favor of fraternity parties.
“The University has deliberately phased out many on-campus social gatherings and attempted to avoid liability for hosting student social events,” the suit claims. “Instead, Yale ceded those activities to the Fraternities while refusing to regulate them or enforce appropriate safety standards.”
Tracey said that while the suit is Yale-specific, it could set a precedent that affects universities across the country.
A Yale spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit, but directed The Hill to a statement by Yale College Dean Marvin Chun in response to recent allegations of sexual misconduct by a Yale fraternity.
The statement outlined steps Yale was taking or planned to take to combat sexual misconduct in fraternities, including to “sponsor more opportunities to socialize on campus.”