University of Utah suspends Greek life activities after reports of sexual assault

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SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah has announced that it will be suspending all fraternity and sorority activities following a second student coming forward to report that a sexual assault that took place at a U. fraternity house.

"Last week, a campus safety notification was emailed to all students, faculty and staff regarding a sexual assault at one of the University of Utah's fraternity houses. The university issued a warning based on the university's interpretation of the Clery Act," Vice President of Student Affairs Lori McDonald and Dean of Students Jason Ramirez wrote in a letter to the campus community.

After that notification, the U. received an additional, anonymous report about a sexual assault that occurred in early December at a different fraternity house.

As a result of both of these reports, McDonald and Ramirez wrote: "All social activity at the University of Utah's fraternity and sorority chapters has been suspended for two weeks. Philanthropic and business operations may continue in the chapter houses, but social gatherings are not allowed."

Additionally, university leadership plans to meet with leaders of Greek life to "discuss these incidents, the culture in their organizations and the next steps for improving safety, accountability and transparency within the community," the letter states.

"Fraternities and sororities have operated adjacent to our campus for more than 100 years. These independent organizations have been allowed to affiliate with the university with the understanding that they will serve the greater good of the campus community — building leadership, service and community engagement skills among their members," according to the letter.

On Jan. 26, the university issued a safety alert, informing campus community members of an assault that occurred in September at the Kappa Sigma house.

According to a blog post from Allie Moore, a student employee at the U.'s McCluskey Center for Violence Prevention, that alert spurred a wave of people coming forward to discuss their experiences with sexual assault on the anonymous social media app Yik Yak, with most of the experiences involving Greek life.

One post from a male student, Moore said, states: "Girls will come and grab my face to make out when I'm drunk and they don't see that as a problem. Reverse the roles and that's SA."

Another post states, "I've been assaulted sexually and physically at frats as a woman in Greek life it has ruined my experience to a degree because of the feeling of discomfort and nothing happened no matter what I said."

Moore explained how through these posts, she learned that students have a desire to discuss their experiences surrounding sexual assault at the U. and that they "want to make a real and lasting change."

Through this discovery, Moore, a member of Greek life herself, has initiated dialogue sessions for fraternity and sorority life that involves educational discussions on the "power imbalances and myths of relationship and sexual violence."

In response to recent reports of sexual assault, the U.'s McCluskey Center for Violence Prevention is hosting a series of dialogues with sororities and fraternities this month.
In response to recent reports of sexual assault, the U.'s McCluskey Center for Violence Prevention is hosting a series of dialogues with sororities and fraternities this month. (Photo: University of Utah)

"It allows for the deeper and nuanced conversations that so many students expressed they wanted through their posts on Yik Yak," Moore wrote. "The dialogue sessions will also allow to plan action items that students can bring to their individual chapters and the broader Greek community to prevent relationship and sexual violence from happening."

Moore is trying to approach this problem from the source and said that the responsibility of changing the culture of Greek life and the greater campus community shouldn't fall on survivors.

"The people who are causing the harm are the ones who need to take the responsibility and action to stop causing harm," she wrote. "By intervening with perpetration through discussion and education we could reduce the amount of sexual assault cases reported and unreported."

The letter from McDonald and Ramirez says students, faculty and staff can contact the university's confidential victim-survivor advocates by calling 801-581-7776 or emailing Those in need of immediate support can call 801-585-2677 and ask to speak to an on-call crisis support specialist.

"We stand with these survivors," McDonald and Ramirez said. "If you are a survivor of sexual assault, please know that it is not your fault and there are resources to support you."

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Logan Stefanich is a reporter with, covering southern Utah communities, education, business and tech news.


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