By Richard Banton
Both national college greek organizations have withdrawn support from a campus sexual assault bill that’s been an embroiled in a firestorm of controversy for several months. According to the Huffington Post, the groups, the National Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils, committed more than $210, 000 in lobbying efforts in July. The Safe Campus Act, introduced by three Congressmen in July, would bring major changes to the way universities are allowed to investigate and punish those accused of sexual assault.
Under the new law, alleged victims would need to report an allegation of sexual assault directly to the police before a university is allowed to take action. A disciplinary hearing could only move forward if the alleged assailant received a conviction in a criminal court. Critics say this method of reporting would discourage victims to come forward. At the University of Georgia, the number of report rapes soared last year after the method of reporting changed to include reports from third-party organizations. Below is a timeline of events:
07/29/2015 – Rep. Matt Salmon cosponsors the Safe Campus bill along with Rep. Pete Sessions. The bill would be effective one year after its enactment.
08/03/2015 – Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee, representing both national Greek organizations, releases a statement of support saying “The bill arms schools with powerful new interim measures to protect students and ensure those affected by sexual assault stay in school.”
09/13/2015 – 28 advocacy organizations across the country come out against the bill in the Huffington Post. The Groups including, Faculty Against Rape and the National Women’s Law Center, uniformly agree that the measure would make it more difficult for victims that suffer from stigma and trauma to come forward.
11/02/2015 – 220 advocacy organizations send a letter to Congress warning that the bill will make campuses less safe for survivors of sexual assault.
11/12/2015 – Alpha Phi, a sorority, is the first Greek organization to publicly oppose the bill after internal pressure from members. Alphi Phi states that its sisters should have choices in when, and how they report sexual assault.
11/13/15 – Both the National Interfraternity Council and the National Panhellenic Council back out of support for the Safe Campus Act. According to the Huffington Post, the groups committed more than $200,000 in lobbying the bill in July.