Eastern Michigan University is mounting an investigation into two on-campus fraternities accused of sexual assault. Here’s what you should know.
Jane and John Does
Over two dozen cases of sexual assault have been brought against Delta Tau Delta and Alpha Sigma Phi for incidents in 2016. Students of EMU have urged university officials to take action against Greek Life organizations and took to the streets to protest abuse on campus.
A student-led protest of over 300 people on September 16th is just one of many actions taken by students to get the administration’s attention on the issue. The Sexual Assault and Rape Awareness group or SARA has been a resource for reporting and abuse on campus.
According to reports and SARA, the assaults have taken place at multiple locations, and that the school had knowledge of the situation.
Eastern Michigan University spokesman Walter Kraft told journalists that the university takes these allegations seriously and that the matter is under review. The investigation is already underway, but Kraft declined to say how long the investigation might take.
SARA, other students, alumni, and community members have expressed disappointment and frustration with EMU’s actions on this matter. President James Smith published a letter to address these concerns and said,
“I take those concerns with utmost seriousness because any failure to ensure that our students feel safe is inconsistent with our institutional values. No student can learn in an environment where they are unsafe.”
From the Horse’s Mouth. . .or Not
So far, Delta Tau Delta and Alpha Sigma Phi have not responded directly to inquiries about the case. However, national representatives have made it clear that they take these allegations seriously. Alpha Sigma Phi representative Danny Miller told journalists at the Detroit News that all pledges are taught about consent, assault prevention, substance abuse, hazing, and other fraternity practices that have become synonymous with Greek Life.
A local party store owner near the Alpha Sigma Phi house said he believes that current pledges shouldn’t be punished for the wrongdoings of their predecessors. He went on to say that he has seen brothers walk women home at night and serve the community.
At this point, it’s clear that current members and leadership will decline to answer questions about the lawsuit. However, regardless of the good or bad done by current members, fraternities at EMU are a symbol of danger and uneasiness. Because of this, many are pushing for the complete shutdown of Greek Life at EMU.
Why Not Ban Fraternities?
For every one voice calling for a ban, there is one advocating for Greek Life. Sororities and fraternities were established to foster friendship, mentorship, and a sense of community. Members are encouraged to hold events and fundraisers that benefit local causes and serve the people around them in any way they can.
While some believe that today’s frats and sorority houses couldn’t be farther from that vision, many students who join Greek Life still participate in community outreach and service. In sexual assault cases, it’s easy to point fingers at the “bros” from the frat, but can a whole tradition be destroyed by a few bad apples?
Universities across the United States are struggling with this dilemma. No matter how easy it may seem to just issue a ban, getting rid of Greek Life doesn’t solve the sexual assault issue. Greek-free campuses have high instances of assault every year.
Plus, many of the current pledges at EMU were only in high school at the time that these cases happened. Should they really be held responsible for crimes they didn’t commit?