Student says fraternities need better sexual assault reporting procedures

Student+says+fraternities+need+better+sexual+assault+reporting+procedures
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After reporting through Linfield’s Title IX office and Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL), one Linfield student said she’s disappointed with the state of her sexual assault case. 

During January Term 2019 this student, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she went to a few different parties in the same night. She said a member of one of Linfield’s fraternities came home with her that night and raped her, and that she was too inebriated to give consent. The next morning, failing to ask for consent again, he raped her a second time.  

“When I woke up… after the assault, at first I was very confused about what had happened the night prior,” the student said. “I could not remember anything. Then I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do or what I could say and I froze.”

The student said it took her a long time to process what had happened. She didn’t tell anyone about the attack until early 2020, when she and the friend who was with her the night of the parties decided to report through the fraternity. 

The student first told her story to the president of the fraternity and a few members of the executive board on March 1, 2020. She then met with some Linfield’s Title IX officers on March 5, and had another meeting with 11 members of the fraternity— including its former president— on March 8.

“I was optimistic that they [the fraternity] would do something for me that the school may not have been able to do,” the student said. “After that meeting I felt that I had their support and that they were going to do everything they could for me.”

A Linfield student said she reported her sexual assault through the fraternity her alleged abuser was a member of. She said she wished Fraternity and Sorority Life could have done more to help her case.

Associate Dean of Students Jeff Mackay issued a No Contact Order soon after she reported the alleged assault to the school. In an interview, Vice President of Student Affairs Susan Hopp said she recognizes reporting sexual assault and misconduct is not a perfect system at Linfield or other universities. Hopp said she would welcome input on how to better support survivors of sexual abuse and misconduct. 

In a statement from the fraternity, the president said the safety of their guests remains a top priority. “Treating all persons with dignity and respect is critically important to… [the] International Fraternity. All members… go through sexual assault prevention and intervention training as part of their onboarding education.” 

Other members of the fraternity who listened to the anonymous student’s testimony in March did not respond to the Linfield Review’s request for comment. 

After reporting to the executive board, the student said she felt supported. She said the president of the fraternity said he would suspend the alleged offender and members would vote to disaffiliate him or not. 

After this conversation, the student said she saw a video on social media of the accused offender at an informal function at the fraternity. She said it was only about four days after the president said he would place him under suspension. 

“After [the] Fraternity was made aware of an alleged sexual assault invonvling a member, the Chapter immediately placed him on administrative suspension pending the outcome of a university investigation,” the fraternity president said in a statement. “With no substantiated findings from the college, the member was reinstated.”  

“After seeing that [he] was at a… party three days after I had been told he was suspended, my stomach dropped,” the anonymous student said. “I felt betrayed and lied to.”

The student met with members of the Title IX office again and asked if her alleged attacker had filed a counter-report negating hers, but was denied information because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Hopp said in an interview that fraternities are in no way exempt from undergoing official university investigations. In the same interview, President Miles K. Davis also said students should report to Title IX officers and not through FSL. 

“Students who are members of sororities, students who are members of fraternities, students who are members as athletic teams and students who are members of the marching band – there is no distinction,” Hopp said. “Whatever is reported is reported. It doesn’t matter where a person lives or what membership they belong to. Whatever is made known to us is reported.” 

In the fraternity’s official statement, the president said: “In the event of alleged sexual misconduct involving a member of the chapter, [the fraternity] supports and encourages the individual to report the incident to the proper authorities. Once the proper authorities are informed, the chapter will rely on the professionals investigating the matter.” 

The student said she wished the fraternity members would have been more transparent with her. 

“There was never a point where anyone told me that there would be a problem with suspending him from the chapter,” she said. “There was no transparency with me about any questions they had about the investigation that is currently being done by the school. When I learned that he was reinstated to the chapter I felt blindsided and completely lied to.”

The student said FSL at Linfield needs better internal sexual assault reporting processes, so students feel safe at functions and with members. 

“What hurt the most about this whole process is that my peers— people I have gone to school with and consider to be my friends— chose to be bystanders and not doing anything when being faced with a hard situation,” the anonymous student said. “Coming forward as a survivor is not easy in any aspect. I allowed myself to be vulnerable with a large group of men that I trusted and then ended up feeling betrayed by them.” 

The official university investigation over this sexual assault case is ongoing.

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Former Life & Culture Editor Elin Johnson was a reporting contributor for this story. 

If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault or relationship violence and would like on-campus support, you can reach out to University Public Safety at 503-883-7233, the Student Health, Wellness and Counseling Center at 503-883-2535, or Residence Life at 503-883-5433.

Off-campus resources include the Henderson Hours Crisis Line at 503-472-1503, Yamhill County Crime Victim Services at 503-434-7510, and the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.