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USC is resuming frat parties after abuse claims – with guards at the door | California

A slew of sexual violence and drugging allegations prompted officers at the College of Southern California to close down all fraternity parties final fall. Now the parties are again on – however with new guidelines.

Safety guards might be stationed on stairways and in public areas, danger and sexual violence prevention trainings might be obligatory for members and chapters should full compliance opinions earlier than and after all gatherings once they resume in March, in accordance with particulars outlined in an action plan this week.

The brand new insurance policies, put collectively by a fraternity-led committee that features college, scholar authorities leaders and college officers, took place after greater than a dozen college students confidentially reported to the college that their drinks had been drugged or that that they had been sexually assaulted. Six of the reviews have been linked to the Sigma Nu fraternity home, which pledged full cooperation with investigations in a press release issued final fall and suspended its chapter president.

Protests erupted in the following weeks as college students and academics demanded accountability, and faculty officers promised they’d ship.

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However advocates are involved the new insurance policies will do little to alter the underlying poisonous tradition that has persevered for many years. Some say the safety options do extra to placate dad and mom’ perceptions than to resolve core issues.

“There is a historical past with this college of not defending its college students in relation to sexual assault,” says Natalia Parraz, a USC senior and president of a scholar-led intersectional feminism group called USC flow, which led demonstrations. She sees the plan as a “fast repair to a really systemic drawback” and voiced frustration that suggestions from her group, together with group-led discussions, have been absent from the plan.

Parraz is involved that the college has prioritized PR over prevention. USC has relied on employed safety observers to assuage security issues earlier than, and fraternities are already required to have safety guards available throughout occasions. In the meantime, trainings about consent and sexual assault, although not obligatory, are already supplied, and “clearly aren’t working”, she says.

USC has resisted shutting down its fraternities, which are a big part of the school’s social scene.
USC has resisted shutting down its fraternities, that are a giant a part of the college’s social scene. {Photograph}: Reed Saxon/AP

Warnings about the dangers of attending fraternity parties at USC have lengthy been handed down by means of college students. It grew to become frequent data by no means to go away a drink unattended and feminine occasion-goers usually exercised the buddy-system to make sure they acquired house safely.

A 3rd of feminine undergraduates at USC stated that they had been victims of sexual assault in accordance with a survey carried out in 2019 by the Affiliation of American Universities. That’s higher than the already astounding nationwide common of 1 in 4 feminine college students and 23% of transgender, genderqueer, or non-binary college students who’ve reportedly been sexually assaulted, in accordance with statistics compiled by Rainn, an anti-sexual violence group.

However the college has resisted shutting down its fraternities, that are a giant a part of the college’s social scene. Roughly 4,000 USC college students are affiliated with Greek life and the organizations are additionally thought-about essential for offering alternatives for philanthropy, management and publish-graduate networking.

“The Greek group serves an essential function in lots of our college students’ sense of belonging,” the Interfraternity Council working group wrote in a press release detailing the plan, including that “it is clear that social environments inside the IFC group require enhanced consideration to security planning and danger prevention”. The IFC, which serves as the governing board of fraternities at the college, didn’t reply to a request for remark. However in a beforehand issued assertion the group expressed disgust for the “violence that happened in our group” and stated it was “deeply apologetic for the trauma induced and affect on victims and the College of Southern California group as an entire”.

The college has positioned 4 IFC fraternities on interim suspension and a fifth is nonetheless beneath investigation, however others will be capable to resume social actions subsequent month if they’re discovered to be in compliance with the new guidelines.

Laura Palumbo, a spokesperson for the non-revenue Nationwide Sexual Violence Useful resource Middle, says that establishments have to be dedicated to alter the tradition and never simply the insurance policies.

“Usually with fraternities there is a concentrate on danger administration and safety issues, and it’s equally essential to be fascinated by how one can positively form the surroundings to advertise respect and wholesome behaviors,” she says. “Lengthy standing fraternity or campus cultures that normalize and dismiss sexual abuse can’t be modified in a single day.”

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USC claims to be in it for the lengthy-haul.

“The suggestions made by the college’s IFC Tradition, Prevention and Accountability Working Group are a part of a preliminary action plan,” a college spokesperson stated in a press release to the Guardian, noting {that a} report might be issued at the finish of the semester. “The group’s focus now shifts to exploring lengthy-time period methods for bettering tradition, enhancing accountability, and addressing systemic challenges inside IFC chapters.”

Parraz, the scholar advocate, says she hopes their voices might be thought-about and included going ahead. “We are attempting to present recommendation on the preventative measures and they aren’t actually listening,” she says. “The unhappy truth is that this dialog has occurred each two to 4 years on campus.”

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