Yale sued by girls who want to be let into fraternities

Yale University, along with nine of its fraternities, is getting sued by female students who want to join the male-only groups.

Campus Reform heard from spokesmen representing both Yale and the fraternities.

The female students claim that Yale violates Title IX and that the frats unfairly grant male "economic opportunities" that are denied to women.

Three female students are suing Yale University and nine of its fraternities for failing “to honor”  an “environment free of discrimination” and sexual misconduct. 

Yale students Anna McNeil, Eliana Singer, and Ry Walker allege in the lawsuit that they were groped at fraternity parties as freshmen and that the fraternities unfairly dominate the campus social environment, The New York Times reported. All three are now suing to be allowed to join the all-male organizations.

In addition to criticizing Yale fraternity culture on the grounds of sexual misconduct and drinking, the lawsuit claims the groups deny “economic opportunities” to female and non-binary students. The girls allege that fraternity students have access to vast alumni networks and “coveted job offers” that are unavailable to other students on campus. Additionally, they note that sororities do not bridge this gap because they were founded later and lack relative access to influence and power. 

[RELATED: Yale frat lets women rush, but will not offer bids]

This is not the first attempt the plaintiffs have made to challenge fraternities. In 2016, McNeil and Walker created a group on campus called “Engender,” which worked to integrate Yale’s Greek organizations. In 2017, the group, which included McNeil and Walker, attempted to rush the fraternities and were denied. 

By 2018, the girls, now joined by Singer, again tried to join the fraternities. 

The lawsuit also takes aim at Yale University’s “hands off” approach when it comes to dealing with fraternities, claiming that the school is in violation of Title IX and the Fair Housing Act for providing male-only membership and housing. 

However, social fraternities and sororities are notably exempt from Title IX regulations. 

[RELATED: Yale admin asks frats to ignore ‘gender identity’ during rush]

Todd Shelton, Chief Communications Officer of the North American Interfraternity Conference, is fielding media requests for all of the Yale fraternity defendants and told Campus Reform that single-sex organizations play an important role in a student’s developmental needs.

“Fraternities believe that single-sex student organizations should be an option — a choice — for students. And so should co-ed student organizations,” Shelton said. “Students should have the choice to join the groups that best fit their developmental needs.”

Shelton also cited a statement from the attorney defending the fraternities, Joan Gilbride.

“These students’ accusations against Yale’s fraternities and their national organizations are baseless and unfounded,” Gilbride said. “We look forward to vigorously defending this action in court.”

Yale University is not the first Ivy League school to face scrutiny for its single-sex organizations. Harvard University recently instituted a policy that prevents students who join single-sex organizations from holding certain leadership positions on campus or obtaining faculty endorsements for prestigious scholarships.

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Harvard frat student says same-sex club policy ‘undermines’ individualism]

Thomas Conroy, the Yale University Director of the Office of Public Affairs, told Campus Reform that he could not comment on the specifics of the lawsuit. However, he noted that Yale investigates all complaints of sexual misconduct and issues biannual reports on these complaints. 

Conroy pointed to a recent statement by Yale College Dean Marvin Chun, who commented on a recent investigation into the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity, which is one of the fraternities mentioned in the lawsuit. 

“Some of [the students] shared troubling perceptions of DKE parties. Some reported that they felt that these events disregarded standards of conduct, with poor crowd control, unregulated access to alcohol, and behavior such as ogling by DKE brothers,” Chun said. “I condemn the culture described in these accounts; it runs counter to our community’s values of making everyone feel welcome, respected, and safe. I also offer some plain advice about events like these: don’t go to them.”

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