LOS ANGELES - Hundreds of students participated in a protest on USC's campus Monday following the allegations of several sexual assaults and drugging at the Sigma Nu fraternity house.
The allegations were made public by USC officials in a crime alert sent last week, and since then, students have participated in protests on campus, calling for more accountability.
"We really want to call for some reform within our school and within the fraternal communities. The racism, the misogyny and the sexism that has built upon these frats, we need to get that out. The institution [USC] has a record of continuously sweeping their scandals under the rug," said Anna Olivia Schwedt, a freshman at USC.
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Schwedt came to the protest with her friend, Andrea V., a freshman at USC. Both came with signs addressing the university, its high tuition, and what they believed was a poor response from USC leadership to the situation.
"It's even more concerning how the administration hasn't done anything about it or how they're not being proactive or as proactive as they say they are to combat it so it's very alarming for me personally. USC is known as the ‘University of Spoiled Children’ because it's very expensive in general, like the tuition and living here in LA, so I am asking, 'Is it [tuition] not enough? Do we need to pay more? What's the price for you to care about us?'" said Andrea.
Ashley Diamond, a USC junior, also voiced concerns.
"We are making a stand for the people who don't feel like they can and we're making sure their voices are heard and won't be silenced by anyone. I tend to dress in different ways depending on the day. Some days, I'm dressed a little more provocatively, one would say, and some days, I'm more covered and I think no matter what I'm wearing, it doesn't matter because I'm never asking for sexual assault. I'm never asking for rape," said Diamond.
Diamond is disturbed that the individual who is believed to have been responsible for the sexual assaults has not been identified by USC or Sigma Nu.
"We found it [the individual's name] out on our own and that's ridiculous to me because he's not a minor and he is a criminal and we don't have to protect his name, and he did nothing to protect those women so we shouldn't protect him," said Diamond.
USC's President, Carol L. Folt, has released a recent statement regarding the allegations following unrest over the initial report from university officials:
"Dear USC community,
We are writing to provide additional information about Wednesday’s campus crime alert. That alert referenced two separate incidents: a police report of sexual assault at a fraternity last weekend, and confidential information that drugs may have been placed into drinks without consent at a party last month at the same house, leading to possible drug-facilitated sexual assaults.
Such behaviors are deeply disturbing, they hurt people and go against everything we stand for as a community. We are sorry for the pain and anguish this is causing. Even as these matters are being investigated, we want to share what information we can and describe how the university is responding.
On Tuesday, the university placed an individual on interim suspension. The following day (the same day that the campus crime alert went out), the fraternity in question was placed on interim suspension. We have reported all known information about these matters to the Los Angeles Police Department, and are cooperating fully with their investigations. The Interfraternity Council has voluntarily agreed to cease all social activities for the time being, and we intend to enforce that pause until further notice as the investigations proceed.
Some of you have asked about the timing of the decision to notify the community about confidential information shared about the party last month. The information about those incidents came through our Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Services (RSVP), a channel for confidential reporting. Such confidential resources are critical to survivors and used extensively. Although we still do not know the details or identities of the individuals who approached RSVP, and it is important to maintain their confidentiality, the university decided to include this information in our safety alert because of its serious nature.
We also understand that some of the safety language in the TrojansAlert disturbed people. Some TrojansAlert messages are required by the Clery Act to contain specific information related to crime prevention. In the coming weeks, we will look at ways to improve that language.
We know how difficult it is to report, and we appreciate those who have come forward. Getting information to the proper authorities is critical, and we expect there may be additional safety notifications of this nature in the future. If you or anyone you know has any information about these specific incidents, please call the USC Department of Public Safety at (213) 740-6000 for the University Park Campus (UPC), (323) 442-1000 for the Health Sciences Campus (HSC), or (213) 485-6571 for the LAPD Southwest Division.
If you wish to report any incident of sexual misconduct, you can contact EEO-Title IX directly at email@example.com or (213) 740-5086 or go to https://eeotix.usc.edu/report/.
We are dedicated to working every day to build a culture of trust and well-being and a community where every one of us feels safe and respected. This work will never be complete, but there is no higher priority or goal."
The Sigma Nu Fraternity also released a statement:
"The Epsilon Omicron Chapter of Sigma Nu Fraternity at the University of Southern California is deeply concerned by recent reports of allegations of serious wrongdoing related to our chapter. The gentlemen of Sigma Nu stand in absolute solidarity with all victims of sexual abuse (and victims of all abuse) and in no way condone any acts of violence or sexual abuse by anyone- especially members of Sigma Nu Fraternity. Our lack of communication thus far is not because we are unaware or out of touch or insensitive. We are going through the legal process and are working as quickly as possible to address this terrible situation.
Since receiving this information, we have been working directly with USC officials, our alumni volunteers, and national Fraternity leaders to ensure full and complete cooperation in the investigation of these matters. We take all of this information very seriously and we remain committed to direct opposition to abuse, harassment, and assault in any form. We are also committed to taking appropriate accountability and disciplinary action in response to any confirmed occurrence of member wrongdoing.
One of the matters currently under investigation involves an allegation of sexual assault against an individual student member. That individual’s Fraternity membership was suspended immediately by our chapter and by the national Fraternity, pending the completion of applicable investigations and procedures. It is our understanding that both the University and law enforcement officials are following up on this matter. The Fraternity will continue to fully cooperate and will take whatever additional action may be appropriate following such investigations and procedures.
The other matter is related to information received by the University alleging that a substance was given to one or more guests during a social activity at the chapter house in September. Further, the information received by the University alleges the occurrence of a sexual assault-related to this social activity. Presently, the chapter has no further information about this matter which is being investigated by the University’s Title IX office. We will continue to fully cooperate with this investigation and will respond as may be appropriate based on the outcome of that investigation.
If anyone has any information regarding these matters, we encourage you to contact Title IX officials at the University of Southern California or law enforcement officials."
FOX 11 spoke with LAPD officials Monday, and they said no arrests have been made, but the investigation is ongoing.
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