U fraternity sanctioned for alleged sex assaults

Two assaults allegedly occurred at the Sigma Chi frat on Sept. 15.

by Amanda Bankston

The University of Minnesota chapter of Sigma Chi Fraternity is under University sanctions following allegations of two separate sexual assaults that occurred during a Sept. 15 event at one of the group’s houses.

The fraternity, which is under probation, had its Student Unions and Activities benefits suspended Oct. 12 due to “risk management issues” that prevented the chapter from creating a safe environment for their guests, said Matt Levine, program director for the University’s Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life.

Both the University and the Interfraternity Council suspended three fraternity chapters in fall 2010 for event management issues relating to three sexual assaults reported at fraternity houses within two weeks. At least five 2011 sexual assaults at fraternities were reported to the Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education in 2012, according to the University police crime log.

The 2010 assaults spurred Arkeo, the greek peer policing program. It concluded Sigma Chi’s social event Sept. 15 “was a large event and was managed well.”

As a result of the probation, the chapter is barred from access to student group benefits through SUA until Dec. 1, according to an official letter from Levine to chapter president AJ Sunder outlining the details of the suspension. In the meantime, the organization must meet a number of requirements in order to regain its full student group status, including refraining from hosting social events or having alcohol on its premises for the rest of the academic year. It must also provide educational programming for members.

“We don’t want to close chapters down. We want to hold people accountable,” said Amelious Whyte, chief of staff for the vice provost for student affairs. “We want our chapters to fix whatever problems may have put our students or any of their guests at risk.”

Sunder said that on Sept. 15, the fraternity hosted a registered social exchange between four fraternity and sorority chapters with an attendance of between 150 and 250 guests.

OFSL learned of both alleged sexual assaults the Monday following the event, Levine said.

The alleged assaults were reported in different ways, and neither was reported by the victim.

Sigma Chi reported one of the assaults in a letter to OFSL. Because it was reported by Sigma Chi and the victim chose not to press charges, there is no further documentation.

Minneapolis police found the victim of the second assault as they were responding to another call at a Superblock residence hall at around midnight the night of the event, according to a report.

She was “intoxicated and partially nude,” and two other women were attending to her in the residence hall lobby, according to the report. The victim told police she was sexually assaulted and was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance, according to the report.

The chapter learned of this second alleged assault Sept. 24, when the group’s adviser and chapter president met with Levine to discuss the allegations, according to the Oct. 12 sanction letter. Prior to the meeting, Levine discussed the incidents with representatives from the chapter’s international headquarters, which began its investigation that day, he said.

The Oct. 12 letter states that during preliminary meetings with Levine, the fraternity “admitted there was the potential for a security breakdown stemming from a lack of understanding of risk management and liability.”

Sunder told the Minnesota Daily, “We are taking the time to acknowledge that there are potential issues at play.”

In an official statement, the chapter said, “Through contact with OFSL Director Matt Levine the Sigma Chi Fraternity has been made aware of allegations. We will continue to work cooperatively with Mr. Levine and the OFSL office.

“We are still collecting information at this time ourselves. We have not been contacted by police, and have not had access to a police report.”

Whyte said Sigma Chi’s cases differ from the fall 2010 cases on many levels.

He said there was a more immediate response to the 2010 assaults because of the way they were reported: directly to the police.

Whyte also said two of the fraternity chapters investigated in 2010, Delta Kappa Epsilon and Chi Psi, were “already in trouble with the University” at the time of the alleged assaults at their houses.

Sigma Chi has not been in trouble with the University in recent years, Whyte said.

Additionally, Levine — who started as OFSL program director in January 2012 — said he is bringing a new philosophy to the disciplinary process that incorporates international headquarters more.

In Sigma Chi’s case, it was headquarters that initiated five of the nine sanctions the chapter must meet to restore its student group status.

Levine said safety will continue to be a focus in the greek community through educational events such as bystander intervention training. This year, a new-member seminar focused on general sex education, he said.

Sigma Chi will continue to attend monthly check-ins with OFSL and work with alumni, advisers and its headquarters to resolve “significant risk management issues surrounding the new member class,” according to the Oct. 12 letter.