April 15, Hazing may be a widespread problem in Greek life, but it isn't the only dangerous and criminal activity that universities are seeing. Two weeks before Piazza died as a result of injuries sustained at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house, a year-old victim reported being sexually assaulted there.
At Penn State, sorority women are 50 percent more likely than other female students to be sexually assaulted, and fraternity men are 62 percent more likely to commit a sexual assault than other male students, according to the university's most recent Sexual Assault Campus Climate survey. Erin Farley, programming coordinator at Penn State's Gender Equity Center, said 1 in 4 women and 1 in 16 men say they've been sexually assaulted at Penn State, according to the anonymous survey.
Our journalism takes a lot of time, effort, and hard work to produce. If you read and enjoy our journalism, please consider subscribing today. Thinking about the small number of text alerts and timely warnings that go out, there's a "huge" difference between those numbers, she said, so reported sexual assaults are really "just the tip of the iceberg. Timely warnings are Clery Act-required notifications that go out when there's a potential or ongoing threat of a Clery-reportable offense, like sexual assault.
They're sent out via text and email. The Clery Act requires disclosure of campus security policy and campus crime statistics. Clery geography includes any campus property and certain off-campus properties that are university affiliated, such as fraternity houses that are recognized by Penn State. In , State College police investigated 87 sexual assault reports, according to Lt.
He stressed that those are just what's been reported to the police and that it's a "very low" number because a great number of victims don't come forward for various reasons. He testified before a grand jury, which released a report about hazing and Greek culture at Penn State in December, that 60 to 70 percent of all sexual assaults investigated by State College police are both alcohol- and fraternity-related.
According to Penn State's annual security report , updated in September and released in compliance with the Clery Act, there were 35 total reports of rape on campus and 28 off campus in There were 16 total reports of fondling on campus, two on public property and two off campus. The university's numbers are not yet available. Unfortunately, Farley said, the rates of sexual assault being higher within Greek life is a nationwide trend. The social aspect and alcohol use help to explain the prevalence of sexual assaults in the Greek community.
Farley said the vast majority of sexual assault cases on college campuses involve alcohol, and perpetrators often target people who have been drinking. There's a big social aspect to Greek life, and a lot of those social activities revolve around drinking, she said. Beyond that, parties are "really sexualized environments. You mostly will find the girls more in the center and the guys more on the outskirts," said junior Daniel Klapper, a brother in Zeta Beta Tau fraternity.
There isn't really anywhere else where they can experience so many people in one place, and it makes it easier for them to get away with it, she said. Their tendency to defend their brothers and sisters can be stronger than their impulse to confront bad acts, which may contribute to the difficulty of identifying the problem, calling it out and ending it. But by the same token, she said, that kind of peer pressure can be used to support sexual assault or keep someone from making a report.
Robb echoed that sentiment in his grand jury testimony. They do not want to lose Salley, a political science major on a pre-law track, said that's not something she's personally encountered, but it needs to be addressed if it is an issue.
She added that since the new Greek life measures were put in place after Piazza's death, she's noticed that the sisterhoods of most sororities have become closer. She said she also thinks that people have been taking the issue of sexual assault more seriously since then. Those measures include, among other things, new positions dedicated to monitoring in Student Affairs and social restrictions.
No more than 10 social events with alcohol are permitted during each semester, daylong parties are banned and only beer and wine can be served by officially trained servers.
Additionally, a Greek scorecard, broken down by chapters, was introduced that includes information on total members, cumulative GPA, chapter suspensions and more. It has a section for sexual assault violations, but there's nothing listed for fall Klapper, who's studying health policy administration, said he'd like to believe that the new fraternity rules are having a positive impact, but he's waiting to see the numbers. The university plans to repeat the Sexual Assault Campus Climate survey in the coming year, Sims said, "so we'll know more about any improvements we've seen in that time" once that survey is complete.
So far in , sexual assault reports to State College police are trending down, with 23, Robb said, and he hopes that continues. But he said he cautions his optimism knowing that there could be a spike at any time which isn't necessarily a spike in crime, but rather a spike in victims coming forward.
And Robb said he doesn't think that shutting down the frats would solve the problem, it would just move it elsewhere. But members of the Greek community are taking on leadership roles, trying to educate their peers on sexual assault and working together to stop it as much as they can. Salley and Klapper are both student facilitators in the Greeks CARE program, a six-week sexual assault prevention program for fraternities and sororities. The program — facilitated by Gender Equity Center staff and trained fraternity and sorority members in collaboration with the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life — educates sorority and fraternity members about sexual violence, alcohol and consent, normalization of harmful behaviors, bystander intervention and supporting survivors.
It's not mandatory, but fraternities and sororities are "strongly encouraged" to participate, Farley said.
The ones that do each send eight members, ideally older students and those in leadership positions who can take the message back and have the power to change the social norms of their organizations.
This semester, the program has more than participants, which Farley said has doubled from last semester. For Salley, being involved in trying to bring about positive change is personal. The message that Farley wants to convey to members of fraternities and sororities is: According to a statement from IFC's Executive Board, a new position, vice president of civic responsibility, was created to take an active stance in dealing with sexual assault and confronting other issues like hazing, mental health and dangerous drinking.
IFC and Panhellenic councils' executive boards completed Stand for State, a bystander intervention training. Penn State Hotline, , www. With the exception of confidential support providers, all Penn State employees are obligated to pass along information about incidents of sexual misconduct Confidential campus resources Gender Equity Center: