The Texas Tech chapter of the international fraternity Phi Delta Theta is being stripped of its charter following controversy over a party last month that included a banner reading “No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal.”
In September, images of the banner were posted on the sites BroBible and Total Frat Move. Those photos of the party also showed a sprinkler in the shape of female genitalia that sprayed guests with water. The incident prompted Texas Tech University to launch an investigation, and Phi Delta Theta suspended the chapter while reviewing the case.
This week, the leaders of Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity went a step further, announcing that the Texas tech chapter has been placed in escrow. The students in leadership positions have been removed, and the remaining members will be required to complete community service, as well as attend courses in sexual assault prevention and bystander intervention.
“When reviewing this reprehensible behavior, there was a clear lack of leadership that created an environment that was disrespectful to women,” the fraternity’s associate executive vice president, Sean Wagner, said in a statement. “Part of our mission within Phi Delta Theta is to educate, and the intent of the comprehensive education offered is to empower remaining members with knowledge to help fight sexual assault at Texas Tech and other college campuses.”
Two weeks ago, Phi Delta Theta announced that it would join seven other major fraternities to develop training programs for their members on the subjects of binge drinking and sexual misconduct. The newly-formed “Fraternal Health and Safety Initiative” intends to engage fraternity brothers in the effort to address the campus rape crisis, at a time when many students consider Greek life to be one of the roots of the problem.
Indeed, these type of pro-rape messages aren’t entirely uncommon. In 2008, frat brothers at Yale University chanted the exact same message — “No Means Yes! Yes Means Anal!” — sparking a federal investigation and eventually getting the chapter suspended. More recently, a fraternity at Georgia Tech was suspended after leaked emails exposed the brothers discussing “how to lure your rapebait.”
The idea that “no” can somehow mean “yes” during a sexual encounter isn’t limited to college students. One 2009 study found that some Americans, particularly people who subscribe to traditional gender norms and don’t place as much value on gender equality, believe that acquaintance rape doesn’t count as an assault even if a woman says “no.” Recently, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh sparked outrage for suggesting that men know that “no means yes if you know how to spot it.”
“No means no” has long been a famous anti-rape slogan, but sexual assault prevention activists are now seeking to take it a step further. Advocates are now turning their attention to affirmative consent, or a “yes means yes” standard, to emphasize what getting consent actually looks like. That’s recently become the statewide standard for colleges in California and New York.