On Nov. 12, Alpha Phi Sorority made headlines by becoming the first national sorority to publicly not support the Safe Campus Act.
The Safe Campus Act is a piece of legislation, supported nationally by many Greek organizations, that if passed would require victims of sexual assault to file a complaint with police before colleges could investigate the alleged assaults.
The proposed bill would prevent schools from imposing criminal punishments and allow more thorough investigations, but it would also require more time and concrete evidence to warrant a full investigation.
Sexual assault is an important topic that is discussed often, especially at colleges. Numbers provided by the “It”s On Us” campaign indicate that 343 University of Idaho students are sexually assaulted every year, and one out of three of these assaults happen to freshmen.
Discussing sexual assault on campuses is a step toward preventing it. The Safe Campus Act is good for this, if nothing else.
However, not every survivor of sexual assault will benefit from the painful and long process of fighting their attacker in court, which does not guarantee a sentencing outcome. What survivors could benefit from is the swift removal of their abuser based on the Student Code of Conduct.
The Safe Campus Act was previously endorsed by the National Panhellenic Council (NPC) and the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC). According to an article published on Gawker, both organizations spent at least $200,000 for lobbying purposes since July.
Some feel that sexual assault offenders should be punished to the full extent of the law and not be allowed to be protected by colleges. Many student activists, campus officials and rape survivor advocacy organizations oppose the bill, worried about the implications for survivors of rape and sexual violence.
Alpha Phi broke rank, several other national sororities also released statements publicly stating they did not support the Safe Campus Act.
After public statements opposing the Safe Campus Act, both NPC and the NIC withdrew their support for the legislation, choosing instead to continue supporting the Fair Campus Act. The Fair Campus Act includes many of the same provisions, but does not require students to report an assault to police before allowing a campus investigation.
The public statements make me proud to call myself a Greek. Not only did they listen to the voices of individual organizations, but they responded accordingly and focused on the most important thing, making college campuses as safe as possible. Major props should be given to each and every organization that stepped forward and stood up for what they believe is right.
Alexander Milles can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @AlexanderKCFMil