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New Course Required For SDSU Fraternity Members In Light Of Sexual Assaults

San Diego State University's Hepner Hall.
San Diego State University's Hepner Hall.

San Diego State University fraternity and sorority members will be required to take an hour-long online course in response to recent sexual assaults on campus, school officials announced Monday.

"Sexual violence on our campus has affected too many people," said Marc Hess, president of the InterFraternity Council at SDSU. "We recognize we can play a significant role in putting an end to it. These steps we are taking will not solve the issue on their own. But we hope they will be a positive influence on the culture and safety of our campus."

Several women reported sexual assaults at SDSU during the fall semester.

All members of Greek organizations will be required to take the online course. Greek organizations also will provide training for bystanders who witness a sexual assault, a leadership forum for sororities and encourage discussions among Greek leaders, school officials and the larger student body.

RELATED: Fraternity Culture Linked To College Sexual Assault Problem

There are 44 social and cultural fraternities and sororities on the SDSU campus.

In April, fraternity members will take part in the "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event, in which men walk a mile in high-heels to draw attention to violence against women.

SDSU President Elliot Hirshman applauded the response to problems on campus.

"Addressing this problem requires a significant, sustained effort to change our policies and practices, as well as our broader culture," Hirshman said. "Education, training, and rigorous enforcement are all necessary components of this communal effort."

The changes announced Monday came after activists asked university administrators to establish new policies related to sexual assault and fraternities. During an anti-rape march on Nov. 21, activists said members of two fraternities harassed them. As they marched past fraternity houses, they said members yelled obscenities and waved sex toys. University officials are investigating.

In an email to KPBS, Austin Dean, president of Sigma Phi Epsilon, one of the fraternities implicated, said none of the the chapter's members were involved with "the lewd acts reported in recent news stories."

Dean said on the night of the march, most members of the fraternity attended a date function at a different location.

On Nov. 25, Greek leaders announced that all social events at fraternities would be suspended until members go through sexual violence training.

Hess said the voluntary suspension would be lifted once Greek student leadership feels all members of their organizations are "equipped with the right skill sets and knowledge to play our role in this issue."

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