Yale students feel silenced after they report claims of sexual assault

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Silhouette of woman's head
Reporting
an allegation of sexual assault to Yale triggers a process some
women feel is silencing.


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  • Women at Yale feel reporting a claim of sexual assault
    to the university triggers a process that is
    silencing.
  • One student who reported an allegation of sexual
    assault said she fears she could be punished just for talking
    about it.
  • Students responding to allegations of sexual misconduct
    also feel they’ve been sworn to secrecy.

Reporting an allegation of sexual assault to Yale University triggers a
process that women on campus say is silencing.

“All I want is to talk about what happened, but I feel like I
can’t,” a female student at Yale told Business Insider.

The student, who requested anonymity, said she feels as
though she lost her voice after reporting a claim that she was
sexually assaulted in the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity
house by the 2016-17 DKE president. Yale investigated the claim
and delivered a finding that the former president had engaged in
“penetration without consent,” using a lower standard of evidence
than law enforcement to reach a verdict. Still, she fears that
sharing information, even with some of her closest friends, could
result in Yale terminating her enrollment.

“Every time I hear a girl say she’s going to DKE, I feel
indescribably sad and angry,” she said. “But I feel like I can’t
say anything because I want to graduate.”

A representative for Yale said the student isn’t bound to
confidentiality regarding the incident itself, though students
are “explicitly prohibited from disclosing documents that they
create or receive for the process.”


Yale University Campus
Yale
University.


Yong
Zhao/赵燕多骑 勇冠九州 via Flickr



Business Insider is unaware of anyone being punished for
discussing their claim, and students don’t sign an agreement with
the university that prohibits them from sharing information.

But students are “asked to protect the fairness and integrity of
the process by maintaining confidentiality.” Yale’s online statement on confidentiality is
available here.

Still, students at Yale told Business Insider they feel the
request for confidentiality is harmful.

“Women can’t band together — everyone is on their own,” a female
student at Yale told Business Insider. “The process destroys the
idea of strength in numbers. They take away that power, and then
we are all stuck.”

Students who report claims of sexual assault aren’t the only ones
who feel they can’t talk once they participate in a
sexual-misconduct hearing at Yale. Those on the receiving end of
complaints also say they aren’t allowed to talk about what
happened.

“I really would like to share my side of the story,” the former president of DKE said
in a statement to the Yale Daily News in January.
“Although
the UWC has caused me and my family a great deal of pain, I
continue to honor its expectation of confidentiality.”

Yale’s use of language within its confidentiality request has a
similar effect as nondisclosure agreements, or NDAs, which are
often used in workplace-harassment settlements.

Recently, the use of NDAs has been called into question as
a tool that powerful men and institutions use to silence victims.
Former Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein kept 30 years’ worth
of sexual-abuse allegations against him quiet in part because of
a one-two combination of settlements and NDAs.

Colby Bruno, a senior legal counsel at the Victim Rights
Law Center, said it’s unclear what college students who go
through university sexual-misconduct hearings are able to
share.

“Ten years ago I would never think it possible for a college to
punish a rape victim for talking about her attack,” Bruno said
when briefed on the student who reported her allegation of sexual
assault to the university. “But it’s Yale and it’s a different
time.”


Read more about sexual assault at Yale and the university’s
response to it here »

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