No More Fraternity, Sorority Parties at UC Berkeley After 'Vile and Unjust' Sex Assault Reports - NBC Bay Area
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No More Fraternity, Sorority Parties at UC Berkeley After 'Vile and Unjust' Sex Assault Reports

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    No more Greek parties at UC Berkeley — for now. Rick Boone reports. (Published Friday, Oct. 21, 2016)

    No more Greek parties at UC Berkeley — for now.

    That’s the bold and voluntary decision made after a rise in recent sexual assault reports near campus by the Interfraternity Council President Daniel Saedi and Panhellenic Council president Divya Thomas, who announced the suspension of “all social events until we can reevaluate our risk management practices and care for those who have been affected,” Saedi wrote on the fraternity council’s Facebook page this week.

    "I’m glad at least they’re taking time out to step back and think about it,"  student Arjun Mahajan said Friday. "I think it’s a good opportunity to reflect about the cultural awareness as college students about this issue."

    Student Veronica Yang also welcomed the decision.

    "People just dance all night until four in the morning, and it's really, really noisy," Yang said.

    Police also applauded the move.

    "It's great that they're recognizing the problems that alcohol often contribute," UC Berkeley Police Lt. Marc Decoulode said.

    University police said there were 22 rape cases reported on campus last year, but none of the cases are linked to any fraternity or sorority parties on campus.

    Saedi realized that not all would be happy with the party suspension, especially since the crackdown came before a big football game on Friday against the Oregon Ducks.

    "Gameday is on Friday, a time for traditional parties at many fraternities and sororities," Saesi wrote in an email obtained by The Daily Californian. "But for the first time under our terms, we both do not feel comfortable allowing any of our members attend or host events given the current circumstances.”

    Two female UC Berkeley students reported having been sexually assaulted last weekend at off-campus fraternities; one on Friday in the 2300 block of Piedmont Avenue, and the other, 10 minutes later, in the 2400 block of Prospect Street by a student attending a social event when she reported being assaulted by an acquaintance, Berkeley police said.

    That same weekend, Berkeleyside also reported a misdemeanor sexual assault  in the 2500 block of Durant Avenue, and a felony sex crime near Ashby and Telegraph avenues on Friday night. According to CrimeMapping, there have been about 61 reported sexual assaults throughout the city over the past six months, including within the university’s jurisdiction, Berkeleyside reported.

    And a 2015, UC Berkeley police report shows a total of 22 rapes reported on campus, including in the dorms.

    Voluntarily shutting down fraternity parties is unusual, but not unheard of. After a reported sexual assault at Emory University in Atlanta, the Intrafraternity Council in 2014 issued a self-imposed suspension of all social activities, much like Cal's. 

    In most cases, however, the move isn't voluntary— it's typically the university leadership who shuts down chapters after members are accused of hazing, drinking or sexual conduct. Bloomberg compiled a list of 133 fraternity and sorority chapters at 55 U.S. colleges that were disciplined, suspended or shut down in 2015.

    Saedi decided the discipline needed to start at home.

    The International House serving students at the University of California at Berkeley on Piedmont Avenue.
    Photo credit: NBC Bay Area

    In his Facebook post, he called the called the recent incidents at Cal “vile and unjust,” adding “while we have no reason to believe that these were committed by fraternity men on this campus, it is still disheartening and alarming that they have occurred on fraternity property.”

    In his email, he urged sorority and fraternity members to work together to find lasting solutions to these problems and to “take better care of each other.”

    The councils have decided the suspension will last until at least they can “reevaluate risk management practices” at a meeting planned for Saturday.

    Contact Lisa Fernandez at lisa.fernandez@nbcuni.com or 408-432-4758. Follow on Twitter at @ljfernandez