Alpha Phi became the first sorority to withdraw its support for two bills regarding sexual assault last Thursday, with many other Greek organizations following suit the next day, including Alpha Gamma Delta, Delta Phi Epsilon and the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
The Safe Campus Act, in conjunction with the Fair Campus Act, are currently being debated in Congress, with Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz as its lead sponsor. Their purpose is to prohibit colleges or universities from investigating cases of sexual assault unless a survivor has reported it to law enforcement authorities first.
Upon hearing her sorority’s withdrawal of support last Thursday, Seton Hall’s Alpha Phi President Kayla Weinman said she felt an “immense amount of pride” that her organization has such a firm stance on its position.
A Seton Hall campus climate survey revealed that with a 30 percent response rate from the approximate 9,000 students surveyed anonymously online, “Five percent of the respondents claimed to be victims of rape or attempted rape last year, 18 percent claimed to be victims of all forms of unwanted sexual contact and 37 percent of respondents claimed that they were not aware of campus services,” as reported on the front page story.
According to a survey done by the Association of American Universities, 1 in 5 women on a college campus has experienced sexual assault. “Students are clearly apprehensive to report their cases to ad
ministration for different reasons. If this act was passed, it would increase that disconnect even more,” Weinman said. “I think people will be even more apprehensive to reach out to the administration because they automatically will assume legal force needs to also be implemented or else administration cannot get involved.”
Weinman points to anonymity as a big factor when survivors are deciding whether or not to report a case. She thinks there should be legislation that prohibits any college or University to take any further course of action without the consent of the survivor, very different from what the Safe Campus Act proposes. Similarly, Seton Hall’s Delta Phi Epsilon President Frankki DeGirolamo said that everyone is different and each person needs to deal with these situations on their own terms.
“The Safe Campus Act can inhibit the trust between the Universities and their students,” she said. “A person should be able to tell the school what has happened to them anonymously, for statistical purposes, without the pressure of having to go see a counselor or press charges when they are not ready yet.”
DeGirolamo said all the presidents of the College Panhellenic Council (CPC) organizations and the CPC president meet with Dean Karen Van Norman, associate vice president and dean of students and the deputy coordinator for Title IX, who provides helpful tools and knowledge about sexual assault. Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity.
Emily Balan can be reached at email@example.com.