Although I don’t attend Yale, this story strikes very close to home: last Wednesday night, pledges from the university’s Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity marched through Yale’s Old Campus (where, as Tracy Clark-Flory points out on Broadsheet, most of the freshman woman are housed), chanting, “No means yes! Yes means anal!” Just to make the chant more appealing, they sometimes added, “My name is Jack, I’m a necrophiliac, I fuck dead women and fill them with my semen.”
The footage, taken by a student, is below; naturally, it’s gone viral.
The frat issued an extensive apology, admitting,
“We were disrespectful, vulgar and inappropriate. More than that, we were insensitive of all women who have been victims of rape or sexual violence, especially those here at Yale. Rape is beyond serious – it is one of the worst things that any person can be subjected to. It is not a laughing matter, yet we joked about it.”
But as a senior at a Princeton, a university that’s culturally very similar to Yale, I have to say that although this apology seems sincere, it’s indicative of a larger cultural trend that permits behavior like this – as long as the perpetrators seem really, really sorry afterward.
As Jillian Hewitt wrote in an Equal Writes post last March, responding to the Center for Public Integrity’s broad-ranging study on campus sexual assault, “[College administrators view] offenders…as those good guys who made a one-time mistake, and thus as deserving of a second chance.” This, of course, is not the case – most rapists are repeat offenders, even on college campuses – as psychologist David Lisak proved in his twenty-year survey of college men. Those could be the same men who think it’s acceptable to march their pledges across campus shouting rape chants – or the pledges themselves, who are taught, early in their freshman year, that rape culture is the norm.
This time, though, things can be different. Yale has an opportunity to discipline the men who were responsible for this triggering, verbally violent action, and they shouldn’t accept yet another “sincere” apology – their students should know better. This is a situation where “sorry” is just not good enough.
Photo from the U.S. Army's website.