Jan 25, 2022
Following multiple allegations of sexual violence and drugging at parties, USC’s campus fraternities are set to resume holding events once again – though under strict new university policies. The Los Angeles Times reported that most USC fraternities will be open for parties during the spring recruitment “rush week” provided they abide by new rules, one of which includes posting security guards at stairs or hallways leading to bedrooms. Guards must also be present at a party’s entry points and gathering areas, according to CBS News.
“With over 4,000 students participating in fraternities and sororities, the Greek community serves as an important role in many of our students’ sense of belonging,” a letter from USC’s Working Group on Interfraternity Council (IFC) Culture, Prevention and Accountability outlining the new protocols indicated. “However, it is clear that social environments within the IFC community require enhanced attention to safety planning and risk prevention.“
University officials stated that if the school can confirm that an eligible fraternity chapter complies with all of the new guidelines, two gatherings per month will be allowed as of February 3. If a chapter continues to meet the newly established requirements, it may begin hosting a full calendar of events as of March 3, according to the CBS News report.
Some additional requirements that must be met beyond the increased security presence include:
“We are confident implementation of these steps will enhance safety and effect positive change for USC’s IFC chapters,” Dr. Charles F. Zukoski, the university’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said in a recent statement.
“Our community must work together to end sexual assault on our campuses. We appreciate everyone who brings forward concerns and reports sexual assault and other issues impacting safety and well-being, and we understand how difficult this can be,” Zukoski added.
The Guardian reported that the new policies come after over a dozen students confidentially reported to the university that their drinks had been drugged or that they had been sexually assaulted at fraternity parties in the fall of 2021. Six of the reports were linked to the Sigma Nu fraternity house, according to the Guardian report. Sigma Nu has reportedly pledged full cooperation with ongoing investigations after suspending its chapter president last fall.
Sigma Nu was also placed on interim suspension last October following the reports of drug-facilitated sexual assaults, thereby disallowing the hosting or organizing of any activities or gatherings. Four other chapters were reportedly also placed on modified or interim suspension.
Carol Folt, USC’s President, stated there was a “troubling delay in acting on this information, and specifically in evaluating it for notification to the community” following the reports of sexual assault last year.
But campus sexual assault at USC may be a widespread issue which includes a number of incidents that are never reported.
A 2019 survey conducted by the Association of American Universities found that a third of USC female undergraduates said they had been victims of sexual assault. The national average is reportedly lower – with one in four female undergraduates stating they had been victimized by sexual violence through the survey.
Approximately 4,000 USC students are affiliated with Greek life, according to the Guardian report.
Laura Palumbo, a spokesperson for the non-profit National Sexual Violence Resource Center, told The Guardian that higher education institutions must be committed to enacting a change to the overall campus culture and not just the policies.
“Often with fraternities there is a focus on risk management and security concerns, and it’s equally important to be thinking about how to positively shape the environment to promote respect and healthy behaviors,” she said. “Longstanding fraternity or campus cultures that normalize and dismiss sexual abuse cannot be changed overnight.”
Anyone with information related to a campus sexual assault occurring at USC is strongly encouraged to contact the LAPD Southwest Division at 213-485-6571.
Survivors of campus sexual assault at USC may also wish to contact:
Dordulian Law Group is proud to partner with the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence non-profit organization, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), in working to combat campus sexual assault. According to data compiled by RAINN, the following statistics on campus sexual violence have been confirmed:
Furthermore, campus sexual violence impacts both male and female students. According to RAINN’s data, male college-aged students between 18 and 24 are 78% more likely than non-students of the same age to be a victim of rape or sexual assault.
Coming forward to report an incident of sexual assault is never easy. But as DLG’s founder and former sex crimes prosecutor, Sam Dordulian, notes, filing a claim can help survivors obtain the justice they deserve while holding the perpetrator accountable. Moreover, pursuing a civil claim can often be empowering for survivors of sexual assault.
“What I’ve found over the years, assisting hundreds of survivors, is that those who have gone through the legal process typically find it very empowering. They were once terrified of this scary predator, but eventually come to realize he’s actually not that intimidating when sitting quietly and meek in a courtroom with deputies standing over him, and is eventually carted away in handcuffs. For the first time, it’s the survivors who are now in control, not the perpetrator. And when a survivor takes back that control from the abuser, it can be incredibly healing. I’ve represented victims on countless occasions who are terrified before taking the stand. However, when they decide to take that step, to walk up, get on the stand and testify before that now meek and incarcerated perpetrator, inevitably they come to magically realize that this awful person who had hurt them so severely no longer has any power,” Dordulian says.
Regardless of whether or not any criminal charges are ever filed, survivors may have legal recourse by filing a separate civil lawsuit in pursuit of a damages award. Depending on the unique nature of a case, sexual assault claims can be a means of recovering various types of damages, such as:
In many instances, sexual assault claims are able to be settled without going to trial. Furthermore, survivors who prefer to remain anonymous or pursue the quickest possible settlement without litigation may wish to speak with a member of DLG’s Sex Crimes Division for a free consultation.
DLG offers survivors of sexual assault four tiers of representation through our unique SAJE Team of dedicated professionals. Led by a former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, DLG has more than 25 years of experience assisting survivors with obtaining maximum damages awards for sexual assault claims.
To speak with a member of our team for a free, confidential, and no obligation consultation, contact us today at 818-322-4056. We are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the legal process or pursuing a civil claim against your perpetrator.
DLG has obtained more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts for clients while consistently maintaining a 98% success record. When you’re ready to pursue justice for your sexual assault, we’re here as your dedicated legal advocates. Call DLG today to learn more.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and personal injury concerns.