Activists Tell SDSU To Suspend Fraternities Over Sexual Assault Concerns
San Diego State University students marching to raise awareness about campus sexual assault say they were taunted by men at two fraternities.
The incident took place Friday night, when around three dozen people walked down fraternity row in a Take Back The Night event.
"I've been to about three demonstrations before," said senior Jordan Busse, who helped organize the march. "This is the first time where I've actually felt scared."
Busse claims men at the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house shouted obscenities at them. Later, a group gathered on the balcony at Delta Sigma Phi on Hardy Avenue and waved dildos at the marchers, she said. Drivers on Montezuma Road threw eggs, Busse said.
She said many participants in the march were survivors of rape, including herself.
"When you're met with that type of language and those types of actions by people who share the campus with you, it was not only disappointing but also very threatening and intimidating," Busse said.
She and her fellow organizers, referring to themselves as Concerned Students of San Diego State University, have called for the administration to follow the University of Virginia's lead and suspend fraternities.
Leaders at the accused SDSU fraternities said they don't know of any specific brothers who engaged in this behavior but will look into the incident.
In an email to KPBS, Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter president Austin Dean said the fraternity's standards board will conduct an internal investigation.
"If we can confirm this behavior took place at our Chapter House, our main priority will be identifying the member(s) in question and expelling them from our Chapter," Dean wrote. But he expressed doubt about any involvement from his fraternity brothers:
"I admittedly was confused considering a large portion of our chapter members were at a formal dance in Downtown San Diego on the night of November 21st."
Busse claims she saw people dressed in formal attire leaving the house after the incident.
Patrick Jessee, executive director at Delta Sigma Phi's national headquarters, wrote in an email to KPBS:
While we do not have any information that corroborates this information, we treat sexual violence very seriously and will fully investigate this matter. Delta Sigma Phi’s Code of Conduct demands that members respect the dignity of all persons, and we are committed to being part of the solution to rape and other acts of sexual violence at college campuses.
Campus officials say they're also looking into the incident.
"When discussing or addressing an issue as important as sexual violence," wrote campus spokesman Greg Block, "we hope our students will participate in the conversation with all seriousness as this is an issue that concerns all of us, as a community."
On the night following the march, San Diego State University police responded to a sexual assault report on the same block of Hardy Avenue where marchers say they were harassed.