Content warning: This article discusses topics around sexual assault that may be triggering for some readers.
Temple University’s Panhellenic Council, which oversees six sorority chapters, introduced a list of six demands preventing Temple fraternities in the Interfraternity Council from participating in events with sororities until the criteria are met.
The demands — focused on social gatherings, sexual assault training, education and safety —- target sexual assault culture in Temple’s Greek life. However, each sorority chapter decides how involved members can be with IFC. The demands do not apply to multicultural or professional fraternities.
After becoming Panhellenic president in January, Mikayla Andrzejewski was informed of unaddressed instances of sexual assault in fraternities by previous leadership in IFC, which oversees seven fraternity chapters.
“It wasn’t just one thing that happened,” Andrzejewski said about the origin of the demands. “It was an accumulation of certain instances, on top of just a culture and a business and a corporation that is basically built upon very destructive behavior and not taking accountability for their actions.”
John Bernardin, former president of Temple’s IFC from January until March, declined The Temple News’ request for an interview.
Bernardin, who resigned from his position due to personal reasons, implemented a social moratorium at the beginning of the semester, when fraternities were required participate in anti-sexual assault training and stop throwing parties, Andrzejewski said.
Only 50 percent of each chapter was required to complete the training, and Temple’s Pi Lambda Phi chapter was put on social suspension through May and social probation during the next semester for violating the moratorium by throwing a party on Feb. 12. The moratorium was lifted mid-March because the chapters met the 50 percent quota and finished their follow-up surveys.
The moratorium was a turning point in Panhellenic leadership’s decision to create their list of demands because they were frustrated by the 50 percent threshold and fraternity members continuing to attend or hold parties.
“I took it upon myself, as well as with other members of Panhellenic, and we put together our ideas, and we decided to create the statement to try to shift the culture to give more power to the women and not have it all in the men’s hands,” Andrzejewski said.
In February 2020, Ari Goldstein, the former president of Temple’s chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi, was found guilty of attempted sexual assault, attempted involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and indecent assault of a Temple student in 2018. AEPi is indefinitely suspended from Main Campus for an alcohol violation.
Sexual assault on college campuses is a systemic issue. Thirteen percent of all undergraduate and graduate students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, an anti-sexual violence organization.
Men who are in fraternities are three times more likely to rape a woman than men who are not, The Los Angeles Times reported. Additionally, women who are in sororities are 74 percent more likely than other women to be raped.
Andrzejewski and IFC President Dylan Hollywood met with IFC chapter presidents late last week to discuss the demands.
Hollywood has served as IFC president for less than a week. Matthew Davies, Bernardin’s replacement, stepped down from the IFC presidency on April 7 because he will be studying abroad next year which will interfere with his ability to fulfill long-term goals, he wrote in an email to The Temple News.
Davies is glad that Panhellenic leaders are taking a stand and speaking up about instances of sexual assault, he said.
“It’s been far too long for people to not have voices,” Davies said. “I think it’s really good to see that this was a major step towards actually being proactive and trying to engage change.”
Davies and Andrzejewski met on April 1 and discussed Panhellenic’s statement, and how they can progress their goals, Davies said.
Davies supported most of Panhellenic’s demands, but remained concerned by their wish to ban unregistered and satellite fraternity events.
Currently, each fraternity can only register one event per weekend with Fraternity and Sorority Life. House parties or unregistered events don’t follow the same risk management procedures, including an attendance list and event monitors, as registered events. Davies thinks the only way to ban or reduce the number of unregistered and satellite events is to increase the limit of registered fraternity events.
“In the moment there’s people who are sober there’s people who are supposed to assess the risk and if that’s done correctly, I’m sure it will prevent certain cases of sexual assault,” Davies said.
Davies committed to complying with Panhellenic’s demands for 100 percent fraternity participation in sexual assault training, semesterly educational programs and published health and safety plans.
He wants to hold sexual assault training in person, rather than its previous online format, to better hold members accountable to completing it.
Hollywood declined to confirm whether he would continue Davies’ goals.
“I am currently working effortlessly with the rest of the IFC executive board to create a plan moving forward,” Hollywood wrote in an email to The Temple News. “We intend to continue communicating with Panhel to work towards making a positive difference within the Greek life community.”
Vicky Nucci, program coordinator for Fraternity and Sorority Life, helped Panhellenic craft their statement. FSL is supporting both Panhellenic and IFC in navigating the demands, Nucci said.
“Just as we supported the women in figuring out what safety means to them, we’re also trying to help the men understand the complexity of the situation,” Nucci said. “Sexual assault is a complex issue that doesn’t only plague fraternity men, it plagues our society.”
Dean of Students Stephanie Ives, along with other administrators, met with Panhellenic leadership on March 22 to discuss the organization’s concerns around sexual assault. Ives gave the Panhellenic leadership her full support.
“I fully appreciated and affirmed for them, the importance of them using their voice in this conversation and I have long believed that when people who have ever experienced sexual violence, sexual misconduct, interpersonal violence, collectively stand up and say we are not going to accept this from any community ever again,” Ives said.
Temple can’t impose restrictions on Greek life because they must hold every student organization, including fraternities and sororities, to the same policies, Ives said. For example, the university is unable to require sexual assault training on 100 percent of fraternities without requiring that same training for all student organizations.
Administrators cannot take action on instances of sexual misconduct without a formal complaint or report, Ives said. Therefore, it’s important to identify why survivors might not report their assault, Ives said.
“It’s very much a social thing,” Ives said. “It’s about not wanting to be the one who was the reason why a fraternity is kicked off campus.”
Fraternities, like any other student organization, can be removed from campus as a potential consequence for violating the university’s Student Conduct Code, Ives said.
Other barriers to reporting a sexual assault include a survivor doubting themselves or their experience, fearing not being believed, mistrusting the adjudication process and not knowing how to report misconduct, Andrea Seiss, university Title IX coordinator, wrote in an email to The Temple News.
Seiss met with Panhellenic leaders about processes for reporting sexual misconduct, she wrote.
Students may file an anonymous informal verbal or written complaint, which puts the incident on record to Title IX or to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards via email, mail, phone, online or in-person, according to the university’s sexual misconduct policy.
To file a formal complaint, which signals that a student wants to pursue a formal Title IX investigation, students must provide written documentation to Title IX. A formal complaint cannot be anonymous and must be filed by someone actively or trying to participate in university activities, according to the university’s sexual misconduct policy.
If a student reports an incident to Title IX, they can pursue an investigation if it is under their jurisdiction. Otherwise, it can be investigated through the university’s Student Conduct process, Seiss wrote.
“It is important for students to take a stand when they have concerns and I truly believe that this can lead to important conversation around topics of sexual harassment and sexual assault that can eventually lead to cultural change,” Seiss wrote.
Student Body President Bradley Smutek met with Andrzejewski in February and encouraged her to post their list of demands on social media.
“[Andrzejewski] and the members of Panhel leadership are very brave for doing this, it is not completely out of the realm of possibility for members of fraternities and even members of their own sororities, to lash out at them to threaten them and whatnot,” Smutek said.
RESOURCES AND SUPPORT
Survivors of sexual misconduct have access to resources on and near Main Campus for helping them overcome physical or mental barriers and navigate a bureaucratic process for reporting their assault.
Title IX can help students file a police report in addition to university procedures, Seiss wrote.
Tuttleman Counseling Services’ Sexual Assault Counseling and Education Unit offers crisis intervention, case management and counseling to survivors of sexual, domestic or child abuse, sexual harassment and stalking.
The Wellness Resource Center’s HEART Peer Program provides education on various topics including consent.
Philadelphia Center Against Sexual Violence (WOAR) offers victim services like therapy, a 24-hour assistance hotline, sexual education and prevention programs and tools for advocacy against sexual violence.
For educational programming, Temple students receive sexual misconduct education at orientation and must complete a required online training program. Additionally, the university offers voluntary sexual assault education programming, including Sexual Assault Awareness Month and TSG’s Sexual Assault Awareness week, Ives said.
FSL launched a survey this semester and focus groups, which are ending this week, to gauge Greek life members’ attitudes towards sexual assault on campus, Nucci said.
“Prevention and education efforts around sexual assault and sexual harassment are constantly evolving, and we need to continue evolving with these and talking with our students about what they are seeing and what is effective in terms of creating a culture of respect,” Seiss wrote.
Andrzejewski hopes to meet with IFC again over the summer.
Change in campus sexual assault culture will be gradual, but if Temple Panhellenic stays commited in their fight against sexual violence, they can make a difference, Andrzejewski said.
“We’re not just doing this for ourselves,” Andrzejewski said. “We’re doing this for women in the past who have had to deal with hell and the women in the future that haven’t had to see it yet and we don’t want them to ever have to see it.”
Be the first to comment