Swarthmore College fraternities disband after ‘rape attic’ claims

Students hold a "sit-in" at Phi Psi fraternity, Swarthmore College (28 April)The protesters say fraternities have too much power on campus

Two fraternities at a US college have disbanded after leaked meeting minutes that referred to buying date rape drugs and a “rape attic”.

Students had staged sit-ins at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, calling for Phi Psi and Delta Upsilon to be banned from campus.

College president Valerie Smith said the frats had agreed to disband but that an investigation would continue.

“As a community, we have much healing to do,” she added.

Fraternities are exclusive, mostly all-male student organisations. Some are based on areas of study, professions, academic credentials, or on specific religious or ethnical backgrounds. Others serve more of a social purpose.

Last month two student publications – The Phoenix and Voices – published what are alleged to be internal documents from the Phi Psi fraternity.

The redacted, 117-page documents include “meeting minutes” and details of pledging rituals from 2012-16. They feature racist, misogynistic and homophobic language and accounts of physical and sexual assaults, and bravado about buying “date rape” drugs.

The “minutes” also allege that Delta Upsilon “have both a rape tunnel AND a rape attic (gotta choose one or the other)”.

Allegations of sexual assault, violence and harassment have also been shared by students on an anonymous Tumblr page named “Why Swarthmore’s Fraternities Must Go.”

What has the college said?

In her statement, Ms Smith said that an investigation ordered into the fraternities would continue, despite the two groups having disbanded.

“We have heard heartbreaking stories from students who feel unwelcome to the point of wanting to transfer out of our community,” she said.

“Those stories have come from across the spectrum of our student body – from student protesters to fraternity members. Stories such as these reflect our failure to realise the values we so often espouse.”

She added that “at this time, we have no evidence that any current student participated in the behaviours documented in those materials”, but that they would be analysed by an external investigator.

When did students start protesting?

Student protesters began occupying Phi Psi’s on-campus fraternity house and camping outside on Saturday.

Organizing for Survivors (O4S) and the Swarthmore Coalition Against Fraternity Violence, which arranged the protest, called on Swarthmore to terminate the leases of both fraternities and ban them from campus.

Instead, they want the properties to be designated for “marginalised” students groups like women and ethnic minorities.

What are the protesters saying?

Fraternities are the only student groups able to lease property on campus. Many members also play in college sports teams, and alumni are often important donors for fundraising campaigns.

Organiser Morgin Goldberg, 22, told the BBC that this had given fraternities “undue social power that they not only hold, but abuse”.

Ms Goldberg says she has witnessed harassment, racism and homophobia by members.

“If any other student group had this way of conduct, they would be off campus in 10 seconds,” she added.

“Isolating a few bad apples will not address the structure,” said Ms Goldberg.

“This is the start of the conversation, not the end of it, about social life at college and which students groups are represented and which are under the bus”.

What did the fraternities say?

Phi Psi, which is not affiliated with the national umbrella group for fraternities, was suspended from Swarthmore in 2016 for violating its alcohol and drugs policy. It reopened for parties a year ago.

In a statement, the group said language used in the leaked documents “[was] not representative of who we are today”.

“All our current brothers were in high school and middle school at the time of these unofficial minutes, and none of us would have joined the organization had this been the standard when we arrived.”

Delta Upsilon fraternity told Philadelphia Magazine that it read the documents “with total revulsion” and said they “do not reflect the values” of the group.

Swarthmore College fraternities face ban calls over ‘rape attic’ claims

Students hold a "sit-in" at Phi Psi fraternity, Swarthmore College (28 April)The protesters say fraternities have too much power on campus

Dozens of US students are on the fourth day of a “sit-in” protest at a college fraternity after the leak of meeting minutes which referred to buying date rape drugs and a “rape attic”.

Protesters are calling for the two fraternities at Swarthmore College, in Pennsylvania, to be banned from campus.

Several students have also accused fraternity members of sexual assault.

In response, Swarthmore has suspended the activities of both organisations for the rest of the semester.

It is carrying out further investigations into Phi Psi and Delta Upsilon, following the leak of documents detailing racist, misogynistic and homophobic language used at a Phi Psi meeting.

Fraternities are exclusive, mostly all-male student organisations. Some are based on areas of study, professions, academic credentials, or on specific religious or ethnical backgrounds. Others serve more of a social purpose.

Earlier this month, two student publications – The Phoenix and Voices – published what are alleged to be internal documents from the Phi Psi fraternity.

The redacted, 117-page documents include “meeting minutes” and details of pledging rituals from 2012-16. They feature offensive language and accounts of physical and sexual assaults, and bravado about buying “date rape” drugs.

Presentational white spaceThe “minutes” also allege that Delta Upsilon “have both a rape tunnel AND a rape attic (gotta choose one or the other)”.

Allegations of sexual assault, violence and harassment have also been shared by students on an anonymous Tumblr page named “Why Swarthmore’s Fraternities Must Go.”

In response, student protesters on Saturday began occupying Phi Psi’s on-campus fraternity house and camping outside.

Organizing for Survivors (O4S) and the Swarthmore Coalition Against Fraternity Violence, which arranged the protest, are calling on Swarthmore to terminate the leases of both fraternities and ban them from campus. Instead, they want the properties to be designated for “marginalised” students groups like women and ethnic minorities.

Fraternities are the only student groups able to lease property on campus. Many members also play in college sports teams, and alumni are often important donors for fundraising campaigns. Organiser Morgin Goldberg, 22, told the BBC that this had given fraternities “undue social power that they not only hold, but abuse”.

Ms Goldberg says she has witnessed harassment, racism and homophobia by members.

“If any other student group had this way of conduct, they would be off campus in 10 seconds,” she added.

Presentational white space

Phi Psi, which is not affiliated with the national umbrella group for fraternities, was suspended from Swarthmore in 2016 for violating its alcohol and drugs policy. It reopened for parties a year ago.

In a statement, the group said language used in the leaked documents “[was] not representative of who we are today.

“All our current brothers were in high school and middle school at the time of these unofficial minutes, and none of us would have joined the organization had this been the standard when we arrived.”

Delta Upsilon fraternity told Philadelphia Magazine that it read the documents “with total revulsion” and said they “do not reflect the values” of the group.

In an email statement, a Swarthmore spokesperson said the college was “committed to fully investigating” any allegations, but conceded that “it is very difficult to investigate anonymous [ones].”

A task force was set up last year “to critically examine social life on campus, including [fraternity/sorority] life”. It will deliver its recommendations to college President Valerie Smith on 3 May.

“Isolating a few bad apples will not address the structure,” said Ms Goldberg.

“This is the start of the conversation, not the end of it, about social life at college and which students groups are represented and which are under the bus”.

Your Education Secretary, Rape-Apologist Betsy DeVos proposes overhaul to college campus sexual misconduct rules.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (2nd L) attends an East Room event at the White House October 24, 2018 in Washington, DC.
The new guidelines aim to give greater protections to accused students while giving schools flexibility to support victims who don’t file formal complaints.

 

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Friday proposed a major overhaul to the way colleges and universities handle complaints of sexual misconduct, adding protections for students accused of assault and harassment, and narrowing the types of cases schools would be required to investigate.

Under the plan, schools would be required to investigate complaints only if they occurred on campus or other areas overseen by the school, and only if they were reported to certain campus officials with the authority to take action.

The Education Department says the proposal ensures fairness for students on both sides of accusations, while offering schools greater flexibility to help victims who don’t want to file formal complaints that could trigger an investigation.

“Throughout this process, my focus was, is, and always will be on ensuring that every student can learn in a safe and nurturing environment,” DeVos said in a statement. “That starts with having clear policies and fair processes that every student can rely on. Every survivor of sexual violence must be taken seriously, and every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined.”

DeVos previously said the existing rules were too prescriptive, pressuring schools to take heavy action against students accused of misconduct without giving them a fair chance to defend themselves.

The new proposal adds protections for accused students, giving them a presumption of innocence throughout the disciplinary process and the right to review all evidence a school collects. They would also be able to cross-examine their accusers, although it would be done indirectly through a representative to avoid personal confrontation.

If finalized, it will tell schools how to apply the 1972 law known as Title IX, which forbids discrimination based on sex in schools that receive federal funding.

In September 2017, DeVos rescinded a set of 2011 rules that were created under the Obama administration and guided schools on how to handle complaints.

Advocacy groups for victims say the Obama rules forced schools to stop brushing the issue under the rug, while advocates for accused students say it tipped the scales in favor of accusers. Some college leaders complained that the rules were too complex and could be overly burdensome.

Among other changes, DeVos’s proposal narrows the definition of what constitutes sexual harassment. It would be defined as unwelcome sexual conduct that’s “so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the school’s education program or activity.”

It also allows schools to use a higher standard of proof to determine if a student should be found responsible for misconduct. While the Obama guidance told schools to use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, meaning the allegation is “more likely than not” true, the new proposal would allow a “clear and convincing” standard, meaning the claim is highly probable.

The department will collect public input on the rules before they can be finalized.

US colleges under the spectre of sexual assault

Betsy DeVos’ move to rescind Obama era Title IX guidelines raise concerns rape survivors will fall back into silence.

Victims of sexual violence and their supporters protest at George Mason University. Betsy DeVos announced plans to replace the way colleges and university handle investigations. 

New York, NY – Taylor Moore, a 20-year-old college student from Arkansas, wants to be able to attend class, stay in the dorms, or go to the school’s library without having to encounter the student who sexually assaulted her – rights US anti-gender discrimination laws, known as Title IX, are supposed to protect.

Schools receiving federal funds – this essentially includes all of the about 5,000 US colleges – must protect the rights of those who have been sexually assaulted or harassed. But what they need to do to adequately protect those students has long been a subject of debate.

Betsy DeVos, the US secretary of education, has vowed to overhaul guidelines introduced by the Obama administration in 2011. Survivors of sexual assault had hailed those guidelines for making it easier for those who had been sexually assaulted to come forward and get on-campus justice, which is unrelated to criminal prosecution. But others have derided the guidelines as trampling on the rights of accused students.

The effects of sexual assault are profound, Moore told Al Jazeera.

“[My attacker] saw me naked, he touched my naked body,” she said, adding, of the possibility of seeing her assailant, “it makes me feel small and very insecure and just violated all over again.”

The Obama administration guidelines were introduced after decades of surveys continually found that about one in five women is sexually assaulted while in college. They also accompanied a gradual shift in social awareness about what constitutes rape and sexual assault to include psychological coercion, exemplified by the FBI’s 2012 removal of the word “force” from its definition of rape.

Evil Whore, Education Secretary DeVos to Scrap Campus Sexual Assault Protections

H14 devos

Evil whore, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Thursday the Trump administration will roll back rules aimed at protecting survivors of sexual assault on college campuses. The move reverses President Obama’s 2011 directive on Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination at schools. Speaking in Arlington, Virginia, DeVos said the changes were denying due process rights to those accused of rape and sexual misconduct on campuses.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos: “Through intimidation and coercion, the failed system has clearly pushed schools to overreach. With the heavy hand of Washington tipping the balance of her scale, the sad reality is that Lady Justice is not blind on campuses today.”

DeVos’s comments drew protests from survivors of campus sexual assault, who rallied outside the building at George Mason University where DeVos delivered her remarks. This is Sofie Karasek of the group EROC, or End Rape on Campus.

Sofie Karasek: “What she’s trying to do is to tip the scales in favor of perpetrators, and that she is siding with rapists. That’s what she decided to do today. And we, as survivors and students and as allies, we’re not going to stand for that. And we will not go back to the days when all you were getting for committing rape was either nothing or a $20 fine and an essay assignment.”

Trumps Education Department makes fun of campus rape. (Apparently, Amerika, you wanted this.)

In Washington, D.C., the Education Department’s top civil rights official apologized Thursday after making false claims about sexual assault on college campuses. Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson’s apology came after she told The New York Times, “The accusations—90 percent of them—fall into the category of, ‘We were both drunk, we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title 9 investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.’” Jackson made the remarks as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos met with so-called “men’s rights activists” who oppose Obama-era rules cracking down on campus rape. Survivors of sexual assault and their supporters said Thursday the Education Department was failing to take sex crimes seriously. Fatima Goss Graves of the National Women’s Law Center told the AP, “What’s extremely important now is that they do the hard work to counter those sorts of rape myths. They need to explicitly reject them.”

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