Posted on December 11, 2015

Yale Investigation Finds No Evidence That Fraternity Had Turned Away Students of Color

Kelly McLaughlin, Daily Mail, December 11, 2015

Yale University announced this week that it had not found enough evidence to determine that a fraternity had been racist when it turned away students of color at a Halloween party in October.

Allegations surfaced in early November claiming that the members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity chapter had turned away students before saying ‘white girls only’.

But the university announced on Wednesday that the investigation into the accusations ‘found no evidence of systematic discrimination against people of color’.

The claims about the party, combined with a controversial email from an administrator who defended ‘offensive’ costumes, sparked a debate and protests over racism on campus.

Jonathan Holloway, dean of Yale College, the undergraduate school at the university, released a statement on Wednesday about the investigation, according to the Huffington Post.

The statement read: ‘Students inside the party reported that early in the evening, before the party became crowded, guests were granted admission on a first-come basis; men and women of color were among those admitted.

‘On the other hand, students also reported that as the event became intensely crowded, hosts restricted admission, applying subjective criteria and using harsh language.

‘When the investigation focused on what hosts had said specifically, two students provided credible accounts that they were told, or heard either one or two SAE members say, ‘white girls only’ as they were seeking admission to the party, although the SAE members interviewed denied making these statements and nobody else who was interviewed heard the statements.’

An investigation began after Columbia University freshman Sofia Petros-Gouin said that while she was visiting Yale, she saw a white fraternity member block a group of predominately black and Hispanic girls from entering the party.

The accusations were mentioned in a Facebook post by Yale sophomore Neema Githere, who received a second-hand account of the discrimination by a friend who doesn’t attend the university.

She backed up the claims, saying she had experienced the same discrimination last year.

‘And a belated shoutout to the SAE member who turned me and my friends away for the same reason last year. God Bless the USA,’ she wrote in her post.

Members of SAE have denied the claims and said that black members of the chapter have been called ‘Uncle Toms’ since the claims were first made.

When the accusations first surfaced, SAE’s national office said that police had told chapter members ‘to stop admittance and to create clear walkways outside of the house’, and it was at this point that someone allegedly said only white people could enter the party.

The university’s investigation concluded that SAE members had acted ‘disrespectfully and aggressively’ toward potential guests and had mismanaged the crowd, but there was no evidence of racist behavior.

SAE will not be sanctioned by the university.

Though the fraternity and its members will not face disciplinary charges, Holloway said their behavior does not meet community standards of civic engagement, according to the Yale Daily News.

He noted that their behavior is especially problematic, since the fraternity has had sanctions set in place since February 2014 following an initiation ceremony that violated the university’s sexual misconduct policies.

‘Strictly speaking, SAE did not violate the terms of those sanctions, which banned the fraternity from hosting activities on campus, drawing on University resources and using the SAE name in connection with Yale University for two years,’ Holloway said to the Daily News.

‘But I am extremely disappointed that the chapter has given me cause to write to the community a second time,’ he added.

Dean of Student Engagement Burgwell Howard said SAE was cooperative with the investigation.

‘In my interviews … I found the vast majority of students highly credible–very much including the SAE members that I spoke with and the people voicing concerns,’ Howard wrote in an email to the Daily News. ‘I found most people truthful, and honestly seeking to help.

Yale SAE President and junior at the school Grant Mueller said the doormen at the party were racist, but not rude.

“I’ll freely admit that there were probably several interactions that night at our door which were rude,” Mueller told the Daily News. “We understand that’s a fault of our door policy, and we’re glad Dean Holloway brought it to our attention so we can fix it and make it better.”

The news of the conclusion of Yale’s investigation into SAE comes as two Yale professors announced their resignation after protests condemning the wife’s comments that students should be free to push boundaries with Halloween costumes.

Faculty member Erika Christakis, who runs courses on child development and psychology, has decided not to teach classes from the start of the spring semester, the Ivy League university announced via its website on Monday.

Chrsitakis’ husband, social and natural sciences professor Nichlas Christakis,has also said he will not teach classes in the spring and will be taking a sabbatical.

She came under attack in October for her response to a request from the Intercultural Affairs Committee that students avoid wearing racially insensitive costumes, such as Native American headgear, turbans or blackface.

Mrs Christakis wrote in an email to students living in the residence hall where she was an administrator that they should be able to wear any costume they wanted.