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U. Greek life 'building that trust back' with campus community after sex assaults

Two months after the University of Utah temporarily suspended all fraternity and sorority activities following sexual assault reports, Greek life leaders have implemented a "robust" training and education program.

Two months after the University of Utah temporarily suspended all fraternity and sorority activities following sexual assault reports, Greek life leaders have implemented a "robust" training and education program. (Don Grayston, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Two months after the University of Utah temporarily suspended all fraternity and sorority activities when a second student came forward to report a sexual assault at a U. fraternity house, Greek life leaders have now implemented a "robust" training and education program.

The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life on Monday released a letter to the campus community in which they acknowledge that the previous assault allegations raised legitimate issues and that they have work to do to build back trust among students.

"To the victims and survivors that have been harmed by members of the community, please know that we believe you and that we stand with you. Thank you for your courage to come forward. We recognize that for some of you, we may have broken your trust and we're dedicated to building that trust back and contributing to the solution," the letter states.

In January, 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 harrowing experiences with sexual assault on the anonymous social media app Yik Yak, with most of the experiences involving Greek life.

One 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."

These reports, along with the subsequent temporary suspension of Greek life activities, spurred fraternity and sorority leaders to reach out to campus groups working in victim advocacy, survivor support and violence prevention to develop a comprehensive set of education and training requirements for everyone affiliated with Greek life.

"Making statements is a start, but there must be some action that comes with those statements. We have spent significant time over the past several weeks having intentional conversations with fraternity and sorority leaders, advisers, and stakeholders that were challenging, honest and hard," the letter states.

Through these discussions, a training that will be held through the Center for Student Wellness was established. The training will focus on the following areas:

  • Safer party culture
  • Building community through bystander intervention
  • Focus on healthy relationships
  • Let's talk about sex

"Our fraternity and sorority chapter leaders and their members are engaging in serious self-reflection and are having the difficult conversations necessary to move forward in a productive and responsible way," Jason Ramirez, dean of students, said in a statement.

In the letter, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life reaffirmed its commitment to working with campus partners such as the McCluskey Center for Violence Prevention, the Center for Student Wellness, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action as well as the Office of the Dean of Students.

Simultaneously, organization leaders will be required to develop accountability measures along with communication standards and guidelines for dealing with future reports of sexual assault.

"We recognize our plan moving forward must be a holistic approach of understanding community norms and concerns to more effectively center violence prevention as well as address risk management practices, physical, emotional, and mental well-being, leadership competencies and relationship dynamics," the letter states.

A detailed version of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life Community Action Plan can be found here.

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

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