News


Stanford upholds fraternity's housing suspension

University rejects SAE's appeal, but allows members to stay through spring quarter

After reviewing an appeal filed by a Stanford University fraternity whose housing privileges were suspended in December following a sexual-harassment investigation, the university has decided to uphold its initial decision to suspend Sigma Alpha Epsilon's (SAE) on-campus housing for two years, according to a university statement.

Stanford handed down the suspension after an investigation conducted by outside counsel found the fraternity's members infringed upon the rights of female students "in a discriminatory manner," according to a university statement released in December.

The investigation found that an event hosted by the fraternity in May 2014, and the fraternity's "insufficient response to concerns about the event, created a hostile environment for female students in violation of the university's sexual harassment policy," the university statement reads.

According to the university, investigators found that members of a Stanford sorority attending the SAE event in spring 2014 were "subjected to highly offensive material" that contained graphic sexual content and offensive comments regarding domestic physical abuse of women. The investigation also found that house leadership missed multiple opportunities to prevent, stop or respond to the harassment, despite the fact that concerns were raised in advance of a similar SAE event that took place the previous year, the university said.

These actions all took place before a new university policy went into effect this fall that revokes a Greek organization's eligibility for on-campus housing indefinitely following one major of three minor violations of university policy or law.

Vice Provost for Student Affairs Greg Boardman, the appeal officer for the case, found no grounds for overturning the findings of the investigation, the university said. Boardman also noted that a separate Organization Conduct Board review found SAE responsible for alcohol and hazing policy violations.

SAE will lose its house at 1047 Campus Drive for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years, though members will be allowed to stay in the house through spring quarter of this year, an extension from the original suspension. During that time, the fraternity will be under alcohol and social suspensions that prohibit social events with guests, the university said.

"The extension of time in the house is being provided in recognition of the disruptions involved in mid-year re-housing of all the fraternity's members, the absence of misconduct complaints against the fraternity this academic year, and positive steps the fraternity is taking to demonstrate leadership as an organization," the university statement reads.

SAE will be eligible to apply to re-occupy the house in fall of 2017 after completing steps that include the development of a plan, to be reviewed by university officials, for successful chapter and house management, the university said.

SAE leadership declined to comment.

The most recent Stanford fraternity to be handed a similar housing suspension was Kappa Sigma, which the university initially slapped with a one-year suspension in 2011 after the fraternity was first placed on provisional alcohol and party suspension and then violated that suspension by hosting an unregistered event during New Student Orientation. Kappa Sigma also appealed the suspension, but Boardman, too, then upheld the decision. Kappa Sigma was reinstated into its house just nine months later after working to meet various criteria demanded by Residential Education.

Comments

17 people like this
Posted by Professor
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 2, 2015 at 12:15 pm

SAE was suspended in part for sexual harassment and misconduct. According to the Stanford Daily:

"The investigation revealed that members of a campus sorority that had attended the event in May were subjected to offensive material during the event, which reportedly included graphic sexual content and offensive commentary regarding domestic physical abuse of women. Additionally, the investigation also found that the leadership of the house did not appropriately respond to concerns about the event that had been raised in advance based on a similar SAE event from the previous year."

In addition, there were multiple allegations of drugging, sexual assault and other forms of sexual misconduct that were not able to be fully investigated possibly due to the fact that victims do not remember being raped when they are drugged and possibly due to the fact that they did not want to cooperate. Nevertheless, the University stated that "[the concerns’] number and nature add to the University’s concern for ensuring the safety of Stanford students.”

Web Link

Nor was this the first such incident involving SAE. SAE similarly lost housing privileges just a few years ago, and was required to take sexual harassment training. So it already had, in effect, it's warning.

No problem, says Greg. Even though the seniors (who were due to their age and holding of offices and positions of responsibility, likely more responsible for the egregious conduct that was found to have occurred at SAE and resulted in the suspension) will have graduated before the suspension takes effect, that is fine. Those students will face no penalties at all. They will get to remain in their housing and on campus just as if it had never happened until after graduation. Oh, whoops, they will have "alcohol and social restrictions." Boo hoo, I hope my tears for them do not short circuit my keyboard as they drip off my face while I type.

To alert readers, this is reminiscent of Boardman's decision in the Leah Francis case in which a student was found responsible for sexually assaulting another student but his punishment took effect after graduation. Or, as some might argue, basically never.

Is Greg Boardman really the right person to handle appeals of sexual assault/misconduct/harassment at Stanford? Does Greg Boardman (and Stanford, since we assume that Greg is not allowed to just make decisions himself that will be so important to the image of the university) "get" sexual assault? Does he take it sufficiently seriously? Can a reasonable question be asked about whether he really thinks it is serious? Does Stanford's persistent downplaying of consequences send the message to the community that boys will be boys?


7 people like this
Posted by Long Ago
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 2, 2015 at 12:21 pm

This suspension of fraternities is nothing new, but a recurring theme. It has happened on the fifties,,sixties, seventies, and eighties at Stanford. In fact, in the seventies, there was a long, long period in which several fraternities were suspended for gross misconduct, and a permanent ban was discussed.

Stanford fraternities make "Animal House" pale in comparison.


5 people like this
Posted by ugh
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 2, 2015 at 12:42 pm

This is very disappointing to read about an institution like Stanford. If the allegations are true these are serious crimes. I will never understand why so make sexual assault issues that happen on campuses are allowed to be handled by the university. These are real crimes that should be handled by real police. As to the 2 year ban on SAE why even given them another chance? Certainly doesn't sound like they deserve one.


7 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 2, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Yet they hold such power and we are lectured these are our area's "leaders." Oh, the networking!


1 person likes this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 2, 2015 at 12:54 pm

@ugh, I agree that criminal matters should be a matter for the police, but those claiming to be victims may choose not to go that route. It isn't a matter, though, that such matters are allowed to be handled on the university campus.
Haven't you heard: in recent times, the Obama administration is heavily pressuring universities to better handle and prosecute claims of sexual harassment, rape, etc., with a heavy bias towards the claimed victim(s). This with the threat of losing significant federal money. So the colleges and universities are placed in an untenable position: if they don't convict, they are supposedly allowing harasses and rapists to go un-checked. If they DO investigate, then such investigations, if fair, are very very often inconclusive.
I would think it is incredibly difficult for universities to "try" claims of harassment and rape, with the exception of when it has already gone the criminal route with local police and a student has been convicted. THEN, to say, ok, this guy should be expelled or suspended, is suitable. Often it is "he said, she said" without evidence or witnesses.
My take is the Obama administration is - without particular basis or facts but rather on hearsay - threatening colleges and universities and reprimanding them for supposed lack of caring of claimed victims. The problem is...in our court of law and society, one is innocent until proven guilty.


Like this comment
Posted by Arthur Jay
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 2, 2015 at 3:50 pm

[Post removed.]


21 people like this
Posted by And So it Goes...
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 2, 2015 at 9:48 pm

We wonder why women are still treated as second class citizens in business environments, with inferior pay and inferior status, despite compelling evidence that they are equally smart and capable. Stanford, and other top institutions, are churning out these future male "leaders," and ignoring their despicable and discriminatory (that's putting it mildly) behavior.

Perhaps women that suffer discrimination by Stanford grads should start suing Stanford for the "education" these men receive at school. Education takes many forms, and tolerance of illegal and despicable behavior is part of it.


9 people like this
Posted by Former coach
a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2015 at 12:12 pm

I was an assistant coach for a men's intercollegiate athletic team for several years during the previous decade. I am aware that many college students drink, but the amount of alcohol regularly consumed on the Stanford campus was, at that time, just incredible. One of the athletes explained to me that since classes don't start until 10AM, everyone just gets hammered every night.

Now, I don't believe that every student walks around inebriated at Stanford, but the Greek system seems to support drunkenness as a core value. Having athletes show up drunk for competitions with no consequences for their behavior was what drove me away.


4 people like this
Posted by Drink safely with gfs
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 3, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Alcohol doesn't cause rape. Rapists cause rape.

However, alcohol is a tool of the rapist who gets his victim drunk so she will be easier to assault. That is for sure true. Most rapists aren't drunk but many of their victims are.

College women:
- When you drink, have a trusted girl friend with you. Trust no males to protect you. That sounds harsh but better safe than sorry. They might, but probably they won't.
- Accept no drinks from any man unless it is your dad. They might be fine, but they might not. Don't take chances.
- Don't attend any parties at any fraternity. The groupthink promotes violence against women. Most frat guys are worthless douches too, so you aren't missing anything. Frats should be banned. Hazing, rape, and accidents. Sounds good? No.
- Take no drugs other than weed. Do not accept x, molly, or anything else. If you want to have a psychedelic experience have it with girl friends on a desert island where there are no men. Better to be wise and not raped and videoed than naive and see yourself raped on tv. Think about the Vandy case. This could be you. Just. Don't. Do. It.

This isn't victim-blaming. This is rapist blaming. Since you don't know who a rapist is (think about Vandy), don't take any alcohol or drugs from any man, and don't hang around where rapists congregate (fraternities). Be safe.


Like this comment
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 4, 2015 at 12:41 pm

Hulkamania is a registered user.

Thanks for your comments Drink safely with gfs. I'll pass them on to my away at college daughter.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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