Some Yale University students are outraged over claims that a fraternity denied classmates entrance to a party based on their race, but fraternity members call the allegations "deeply disheartening."
"Someone's at the door and said, 'White girls only' – only those three words – 'White girls only' – no excuse," said Simone Polican, a senior at Yale.
Her classmate Brea Baker said, "It's absolutely disgusting and deplorable and terrible."
The gathering she's referring to was at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house on High Street in New Haven, Connecticut. Police showed up just before midnight and told the hosts not to let anyone else in, according to fraternity president Grant Mueller, who said police arrived amid safety concerns.
"The house, it's overcrowded, it's overcapacity, it's a safety hazard," Mueller said of the reason for the police response.
Both Baker and Policano, however, told NBC Connecticut they spoke with a peer who had been turned away because of her race.
A female student took to social media the next morning to write that "admittance was on a 'white girls only' basis" and said the same thing happened to her at a party there last year. She could not be reached for comment Monday.
Baker and Policano declined to identify their friend, a freshman, so it's unclear whether the student who posted on social media is the person who claimed to have been turned away.
Sophia Petros-Gouin, who attends Columbia University, wrote on Facebook she too "was privy to both explicitly racist and absolutely abhorrent behavior at Yale's chapter of the SAE fraternity." Petros-Gouin also could not be reached for comment.
Mueller denied the allegations, saying the social event was an annual Halloween party open to all Yale students.
"It has never had anything to do with entry into our parties ever, or entry into being a member of the fraternity," said Mueller, who called the claims "disgusting."
"'White Girls Only' and the sentiment it expresses in no way describes our admission policy for social events. Entry into our home was by no means determined by race. Our party was diverse in attendance, with attendees of all races, genders and sexual orientations, as is every social event we host. Admission into the house is determined solely by safety considerations, friendship with brothers, and possession of valid Yale identification," Mueller said in a statement.
"It is deeply disheartening to see the Yale community so easily presume that the African-American SAE brother who was working the door on Friday would subscribe to a racially-based admission policy. The most cursory glance inside the party would confirm that such a policy does not exist," he added.
SAE national headquarters also released a statement and said the organization is investigating:
"The Sigma Alpha Epsilon headquarters has been investigating an allegation of racial intolerance at our Yale chapter since it was first brought to our attention. Based on preliminary information we have received, law-enforcement officers received a noise complaint and visited the house where members held a social event over the weekend, asking the men to stop admitting guests and to clear the steps and sidewalk. The brothers complied with the direction given to them and halted any additional attendance by guests in order to avoid a citation.
"Our chapter at Yale University is comprised of a diverse group of students, and similarly, the social event included a diverse number of attendees. However, we will continue to investigate this allegation to determine additional information. Sigma Alpha Epsilon is committed to the safety and well-being of our members and their guests, and our leadership has zero tolerance for any behaviors or actions that deviate from our values, mission and creed."
The local fraternity chapter is already banned from on-campus activities after members allegedly made inappropriate comments about female students at a chapter event and SAE was found to be in violation of the school's sexual misconduct policy last winter.