The Safe Campus Act: Thoughts from a Sorority Member

While you’re reading this, think about your college career. Maybe you’re still at school, maybe you’re a recent graduate, or maybe it’s been 23 years since you’ve been on campus. Put on your favorite gameday gear, or snuggle up in your university sweatshirt and get comfortable.

My time at school was unforgettable. I know everyone says that, but I really do believe it. I earned great good grades, made lifelong friendships, and was involved with several community organizations. I joined a sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, my sophomore year and am proud to say that I am an alumna of this wonderful circle of sisterhood.

Now that I am out of school, however, I am disappointed in the Greek Community. There is a proposed bill, the Safe Campus Act, which would restrict colleges from punishing students accused of sexual assault and providing any assistance to the survivor unless the survivor reports the assault to the police. The North American Interfraternity Conference, the group comprised of fraternities and sororities nationwide, is actively lobbying for the Safe Campus Act.

I know your first thought is, “This is great news! The police can help people! Justice for survivors of sexual assault!” Unfortunately, the criminal justice process is a long and extremely difficult system to navigate for survivors of sexual assault. Around 68% of sexual assaults are not even reported to the police. Law enforcement usually drops cases due to lack of evidence, victim blaming, or the age old, “he said/she said” argument. Out of every 100 rapes, fewer than 2% of rapists will spend a day in prison.

Currently, colleges and universities can take immediate actions to support survivors of sexual assault. They can work with the survivor to ensure safety by changing class schedules, switching dorm rooms, or taking disciplinary action against perpetrators. By requiring investigations of any assault if a survivor seeks help on campus, it will deter survivors from getting the support and help they need to heal.

As a member of the Greek community, I am disappointed that such a large, influential organization would promote this legislation. My friend Darby told me, “We should be building people up [in Greek Life] and opening doors of safety for them, not shunning them from the help they seek.” I couldn’t agree more. In a society where 25 percent of young women and 7 percent of young men say they suffered unwanted sexual incidents in college, it is unfathomable to deny them the services that schools provide to prevent a sexual assault. If you take a look at those numbers, that would mean that in a sorority of 375 women, 75 of them are survivors of sexual assault. If this bill were to be passed, 75 of your classmates would not be able to seek help on campus until they reported to the police.

I have to give great kudos to Lambda Chi Alpha, who left the NIC on October 27, and Alpha Phi, who left the National Panhellenic Conference on November 12 due to the NIC and NPC’s support of this bill. I hope that by seeing Lambda Chi Alpha and Alpha Phi's actions, the NIC and other Greek Life organizations will reconsider their decision to support this bill.   

Contrary to the name, this bill is not safe for survivors on campus. And as a member of a Greek Life organization who vigorously advocates for domestic violence awareness, I cannot sit back and let people think this bill will help survivors. Survivors deserve the respect and support from higher institutions. We cannot have the criminal justice system be the sole protectors against perpetrators. Schools must stay involved.

Emily Martin

Emily Martin joined the STSM staff in June of 2015 after interning with the marketing department for two years. Emily is the Marketing Coordinator and is responsible for implementing the marketing plan and promoting STSM throughout the community. A recent graduate of the University of South Carolina, Emily received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications in Public Relations and a minor in International Studies.