In his first year at Yale, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh joined the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, which had a culture “notorious for disrespecting women,” according to a new report from the Yale Daily News. Julie Klein, who graduated in 1987 alongside Kavanaugh, described the frat as an “animal house,” while another classmate of Kavanaugh’s, Jennifer Lew, recalled on the YaleWomen Facebook page how frat brothers would “ransack” female students’ rooms while they attended classes and steal “undergarments,” reports the Yale Daily News.
On Thursday, September 20th, the student newspaper published a January 1985 photo of Kavanaugh’s DKE frat brothers holding a flag created with women’s underwear and bras as they marched across campus. Kavanaugh, reportedly a sophomore member of the frat at the time, does not appear in the image.
Christine Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party when they were both in high school. He has denied the allegations, and a wide range of defenders have claimed there is nothing in his character indicating he would have assaulted the then-15-year-old Ford in the early 1980s. Kavanaugh’s supporters include female Yale classmates who wrote in an August 30th letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh respected women and backed female athletes at the school, reports the Yale Daily News.
But days after the DKE underwear-flag march, then-Yale student Rachel Eisler described the frat’s antics as an effort to “demean women” in a letter to the Yale Daily News editor. Eisler, a 1986 Yale grad, wrote at the time that she asked one of the guys carrying the “flag” pole if any men’s underwear were included in the mix. Eisler says he told her that he didn’t think any “guy’s stuff” would be part of the flag but that perhaps “your panties might be here!” the letter said, according to the Yale Daily News.
A member of the frat who was part of the group carrying the undergarment flag sayss that panties and bras were “obtained consensually” from women, reports the News now. “I am almost certain that is where any women’s undergarments would have come from…women people knew donating them willingly to play along,” Steve Gallo, class of 1988, told the outlet.
Kavanaugh was also a member of an all-male Yale “secret society” for seniors called Truth and Courage, which was referred to by some students as “Tit and Clit” reports the Yale Daily News. DKE’s alleged demeaning attitude towards women continued after Kavanaugh’s 1987 graduation, with the university banning the group from campus for five years in 2011 after frat recruits were seen on video in front of the school’s women’s center chanting, “No means yes, yes means anal,” according to the News. The frat is now being investigated by the school following stories in the Yale Daily News and Business Insider concerning sexual assault allegations against members of DKE.