Well, “rapey” is a strong word. It was something, though, that’s for sure. For those of you (like myself) uninitiated in the ways of upper-crust Yale douchebaggery, let’s start with some introductions. The Pundits are Yale’s “senior prank society.” Now this might sound sort of stupid and puerile to you. (That was my initial reaction.) But apparently its sort of a big deal. Joe Lieberman was even a member! (So some of them are probably bastards.)
That, in fact, is a notion this story helps confirm. On February 19, the Pundits held an elaborate fête for potential members. And, if reports are to be any judge, they apparently acted like perfect hosts. (If by “perfect hosts” you mean skeevy, weirdo Chester the Molesters.)
According to the Yale Daily News:
About 50 people attended the party, which was by invitation only and hosted by the Pundits, multiple attendees said. They added that students were told to arrive at the party in costume, but midway through the night were told to disrobe.
From the get-go, this sounds pretty bad. The Pundits apparently played off the natural power dynamic — the guests were, after all, trying to get in to the club — and pressured them to chug down large quantities of alcohol, then get naked. It’s like an Eyes Wide Shut parody from college hell. Several attendees even ended up at the Yale-New Haven Hospital, presumably for alcohol-related badness. But what’s worse even than the alcohol and nakedness is the alleged sexual misconduct.
After the jump, the most damning portion of the YDN’s article on the event:
[One hospitalized] student recalled for the investigator witnessing a member of the Pundits forcing attendees to kiss each other and that a Pundit forced a male friend’s face onto another’s penis.”
This is, I think you’ll agree, pretty fucked up, if true. We’re not sure if anyone else has corroborated the account of forced oral sex. Others did, however, claim they saw forced kissing.
Now, at this point it behooves us to take a step back. We held off on publishing this story yesterday to see if we could independently verify (or debunk) some of the information in the YDN’s account of the incident. We did, in fact, hear murmurs from Yalies expressing suspicion that the News is drumming up and sensationalizing what was not in actuality that egregious a series of events; that, yes, some were sent to the hospital, but the stuff about sexual misdeeds was overstated by the paper. In particular, we heard that the party was billed as a “naked screw” — an event in which attendees are set up on blind dates by their friends, and that it was mostly common knowledge that stripping down was part of the agenda. And more than one account had it that there wasn’t anything all that lascivious going on.
One such testimony, from the YDN article:
“I was in the main room and the kitchen and hallways, and I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary or anything abusive,” said one junior who attended the party. “Obviously it’s a Pundits party so it’s rowdy by nature, but other than that I didn’t see anything [resembling sexual assault] go down. I was pretty shocked to hear about [those allegations] the next day.”
In my own personal opinion, the excuses put forth by those who would defend the Pundits don’t cut the mustard. At a Pre-Tap event, there are certain expectations, and a significant amount of social pressure is involved. And that’s totally run-of-the-mill, in and of itself. (I was in a social fraternity; I know how it goes.) But you cross a line at a certain point, and what’s being reported, both by the News and by the Yale police, has most certainly passed the threshold, bounding face-first (excuse the pun) into unsavory territory.
As is, the police say they plan to talk with at least 16 students who were at the party. And the YDN — shaking off the James Franco hate — reported that it has spoken with 15 attendees who gave conflicting accounts of the evening.
Whatever the case may be, this is, at the very least, the best excuse I’ve had yet to use the “This is why people hate the Ivy League” tag. We’ll keep reporting on the party as new information comes to light.