Northwestern investigating multiple drugging and sexual assault incidents

Northwestern investigating multiple drugging and sexual assault incidents

Northwestern University officials are investigating an apparent spate of alleged drugging and sexual assault incidents that plagued the campus in January.

According to student newspaper the Daily Northwestern, the school's Sexual Harassment Prevention Office announced on Monday that it received a report alleging members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon — a fraternity whose initials students say should stand for "sexual assault expected" — had given four female students date rape drugs on Jan. 21. The report also included allegations of two sexual assaults.

Campus officials said they had also received an additional anonymous report including claims of a third sexual assault, possibly involving a date rape drug. The report alleged that the incident had occurred at a different frat house on Jan. 20. 

In light of these accusations, the Interfraternity Council executive board and chapter presidents have issued an indefinite suspension on fraternity social events, save for those with binding contracts.

IFC president Rodney Orr told the Daily Northwestern in a followup piece that the organization has plans to assemble a task force tackling problems of sexual assault, drugging, hazing and "toxic masculine culture."

"This is important for IFC both as a council and as a community to come together and say, 'Okay, there is a culture here that we have to change, how are we going to change it,'" Orr told the student paper. "That's an important conversation we're going to be having for a while."

The council will collaborate with campus group Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators, known as SHAPE, whose members are developing presentations for new fraternity members addressing the issue of sexual assault. 

"Each new member class already receives similar orientations from the student-led Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault — but there's some dispute over whether their message has been reaching frat members.

"The issue is when you only have men presenting to men on issues on sexual assault, when, especially within the Greek system, women are the primary survivors of sexual assault," SHAPE executive director Molly Benedict said in an interview with the Daily Northwestern

Benedict instead plans on taking a "survivor-centered" approach to talking about assault and fraternity culture.

"It becomes an issue to leave that voice out of the conversation," she said.