Sororities and fraternities have pulled their support from the Safe Campus Act, which would require student victims of sexual assault to report their experiences to the police before they can begin a formal campus reporting process. Both Delta Phi Epsilon and Sigma Delta Tau, two sororities with chapters at Brandeis, publicly withdrew their support, citing a desire to give survivors choice in how they report.
“We’re strong proponents of giving survivors of sexual assault the power to control what happens after their assault, and the Safe Campus Act could discourage survivors from seeking resources that could benefit them if they don’t want their assault to be reported,” said Delta Phi Epsilon President Lee Remi ’16.
Remi emphasized precautions Delta Phi Epsilon takes to limit alcohol-related sexual assault. She explained that when alcohol is served at a sorority event, there is always one sober member for every five members that will be drinking. They require a sober member to be bartending anytime they hold an event with a fraternity.
Two other bills have been introduced to Congress, the Fair Campus Act and the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, incorporating some elements of the Safe Campus Act but eliminating the mandatory reporting aspect.
Delta Phi Epsilon has taken other steps to address campus sexual assault. All members of the sorority have received bystander intervention training, and several work for centers on campus like the Rape Crisis Center and the Office of Prevention Services that support survivors.
Under the Safe Campus Act, victims of sexual assault would still be able to access the confidential services provided by the Office of Prevention Services and other campus centers.
Sheila McMahon, the sexual assault services and prevention specialist, told The Brandeis Hoot that she does not support the legislation. Requiring victims to report first to the police before beginning a formal university process “raises all kinds of questions about how colleges and universities would still be able to carry out their obligations under Title IX.”
McMahon argued for creating “brave spaces” for survivors of sexual assault, allowing them to “enter into a fair and equitable adjudication process on campus that is consistent with the standard of evidence, protections and institutional accountability set out under Title IX.”
Sexual assault on college campuses is, according to McMahon, receiving more of the attention she feels it deserves from lawmakers and school administrators, though “awareness and attitudes toward survivors are not always supportive.”
Sam Daniels ’16, program liaison at the Office of Prevention Services and member of Delta Phi Epsilon, feels the mandatory law enforcement involvement in formal university processes could discriminate against students of color, who, she believes, may not be as comfortable reporting to the police.
“Survivors deserve a variety of options in reporting and receiving services,” Daniels argued.