Women Sue to Change 'Toxic' Frat Culture at Yale

Class-action suit seeks gender integration
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2019 1:03 AM CST
Harkness Tower on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Conn.   (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz, File)

(Newser) – Three women who say they were groped at frat parties during their first semesters at Yale are suing for major changes to the Greek system—including integration. Anna McNeil, 20, Eliana Singer, 19, and Ry Walker, 20, have filed a class-action suit against Yale and nine all-male fraternities, saying Yale is a "microcosm of the ongoing epidemic of sexual harassment and assault at all-male fraternities," the New York Times reports. They say the power fraternities hold over the social scene at Yale enables a "toxic" culture of harassment. They also argue that—unlike sororities, which are newer and less powerful—the university's fraternities give men "undue economic and professional benefits," including access to coveted jobs through alumni networks, reports the AP.

The plaintiffs say their complaints to Yale about sexual misconduct at frat parties have been met with indifference. Singer tells the Yale Daily News that allowing women to join and hold leadership positions in fraternities will result in changes to a culture that make it easier for men to "dehumanize" women by excluding them from their spaces. "When you’re forced to include people who aren’t just men in those spaces, you reckon with them as people, and we think that helps make the space better as well," she says. Their lawyers believe this is the first-ever student lawsuit seeking to "gender integrate" fraternities. A lawyer for the fraternities named in the lawsuit called the accusations "baseless and unfounded." (In 2014, Wesleyan University ordered its fraternities to go co-ed.)

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