Three Yale University students have filed a lawsuit against the school and nine of its all-male fraternities for allowing gender discrimination to take place.
The lawsuit, filed by Ky Walker, Anna McNeil, and Eliana Singer, seeks to disallow fraternities from only recruiting males, and to require that not only are women and non-binary students welcomed into these organizations, but that they are able to access leadership positions and their alumni networks as well, Quartz reported.
The plaintiffs further contend that fraternity organizations “not only [breed] a very toxic sexual culture but also [give] undue economic and professional benefits” to the males that are able to join.
“When Ms. McNeil, Ms. Singer, and Ms. Walker arrived on campus as first-year students, they encountered a thriving all-male fraternity scene,” the lawsuit says.
“Yale had a drastic shortage of University-run social spaces, and the fraternities were the de facto social environment for many students. Male students routinely controlled admission, alcohol, lighting, and music for many Yale social gatherings. This dynamic created dangerous environments in which sexual misconduct thrived.”
The complaint further accuses the fraternities of reducing women and non-binary students down to “sexual objects” and accuses Yale officials of overlooking complaints regarding sexual assault and harassment.
“The fraternities take on the liability associated with student alcohol consumption, and in exchange, Yale allows the fraternities to use Yale resources (and recruit Yale students) and largely turns a blind eye to the sexual harassment and assault occurring in connection with the fraternities,” the suit says.
All three of the students that filed the federal complaint are also the members of student group Engender that advocates for the principles of equity and inclusion within Yale’s community. McNeil is the legal co-director of the student group, Walker is the co-director of policy, and Singer is the co-director of media.
Although the university has declined to comment on the pending litigation, is has termed the account of the complainants as antithetical to its values.
“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,” Yale spokesman, Thomas Conroy told The New York Times.
Conroy added that the university “plays no formal role in the organizations not affiliated with the university, including Greek organizations.”
The latest lawsuit comes as postsecondary institutions across the country are cracking down on frequent policy violations by Greek organizations. Earlier this month, the parents of a Penn State University sophomore Timothy J. Piazza, who died while pledging the Beta Theta Pi fraternity in 2017, sued 28 former fraternity members.