San Diego State University Greek community leaders announced that they are indefinitely suspending all social activities held by campus fraternities and sororities on Nov. 25. After a weekend of incidents that raised concerns about sexual assault and campus safety, members of SDSU’s Greek life will now be required to undergo sexual-assault prevention training.
According to UT San Diego, on Nov. 21, fraternity members interrupted a “Take Back the Night” march by yelling obscenities, waving sex toys and hurling eggs at the marchers. The next day, a woman reported that she was sexually assaulted at a party near campus. Later that night, a 19-year-old woman also reported that six men tried to pull her into their car near campus, although she was able to escape.
SDSU police officers are currently investigating the reported campus assaults while college administrators are looking into the treatment of the “Take Back the Night” marchers as potential code of conduct and student-organization policy violations.
The march’s organizers, a group called Concerned Students of SDSU, urged the university to suspend all fraternities until they can be made safe on the Monday after the march and asked SDSU to expand its Sexual Assault Task Force to include a more diverse group of students. The group also accused the campus authorities of having greater interests in protecting the school’s reputation than its students.
“SDSU administration routinely expresses concern about sexual assaults, but the reality of campus life shows its efforts have thus far been woefully ineffective,” Concerned Students said in a statement. “We demand bold action from the administration to combat SDSU’s campus rape culture.”
SDSU’s A.S. University Council President Jonathan Cole and leaders of its Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Council, the United Sorority and Fraternity Council and the National Pan-Hellenic Council consulted with university administrators and the campus Sexual Assault Task Force to figure out how to address the issue.
In a joint statement, the groups pledged to educate Greek community members about sexual assault prevention and how to respond when witnessing dangerous behavior.
SDSU President Elliot Hirshman praised the move as a step in the right direction.
“We must work as one community to create the substantive changes necessary to end sexual violence on our campus,” Hirshman said in a statement. “The steps outlined today are the beginning of what must be a sustained effort to change attitudes, culture and actions, and the university is committed to working with and supporting our Greek community as it pursues these essential efforts.”
Cole hopes to collaborate on this issue with Frat MANners, a campus program that seeks to educate fraternity members to prevent sexual violence and abuse. Namely, Cole would like to enlist Frat MANners graduates to lead seminars on this subject, both on campus and in fraternity houses.
Stephanie Waits, the health educator who is teaching this semester’s course, told UT San Diego that she thinks Frat MANners does make an impact, especially on an individual basis. However, she also noted that the course only allows a maximum of 35 students per semester.
Earlier this year, a state audit found that SDSU, as well as three other public universities in California, failed to adequately train faculty and staff in responding to reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment. The audit also found that these universities did not follow state law in distributing policies on how to handle such incidents.