Three female students recently filed a Title IX class action lawsuit seeking damages against Yale University. They allege that the University subjected them to a sexually hostile educational environment by failing to take remedial action as women were sexually harassed and abused at fraternity parties. The students also allege that they were denied equal access to the social, professional, and economic resources and opportunities that all-male fraternities provide.
Yale argues that they have limited ability to regulate fraternities because they are unregistered, off-campus organizations. In response, the lawsuit argues that fraternities “act as extensions of Yale.” In particular, Yale permitted the fraternities to use university email addresses, bulletin boards, and campus facilities for recruitment.
On June 15, 2012, the OCR issued a letter summarizing its investigation into Yale. The letter devoted several pages to fraternity-related harassment, including the 2010 DKE “no means yes” chant. The letter noted, “Students interviewed expressed concern about the 2010 fraternity incident being part of such a chain of incidents to which the University did not effectively respond.”
This recent lawsuit reminds us of the unique challenges colleges, universities, and independent schools face in regulating student organizations and implementing the mandates of Title IX on campus. In 2019, educational institutions will face increasing scrutiny over their student life policies. For more information, you can read the recent New York Times article and complaint here.