“We hope you trust us to handle this in the most holistic and fair way possible,” asked members of Duke’s chapter of Delta Sigma Phi fraternity in an email obtained by The Chronicle that was sent to other students Jan. 25.
The email was referring to an informal sexual misconduct allegation against a new member of the fraternity. The new member has since been dropped by DSig and all Interfraternity Council organizations, wrote IFC President James Bradford, a senior, in an email to The Chronicle.
“We apologize for the potential of an event at which you would not feel comfortable, that is never a circumstance we would create intentionally and we appreciate that you brought it up before it was realized,” the email noted. “We have a zero-tolerance policy with these kinds of actions and we fully intend to maintain that policy with this situation.”
The senders of the email also said that “other people and organizations” knew about circumstances related to the incident before they did, and that the rush process was “imperfect” and “does not always facilitate information like this” reaching them as soon as they would like.
According to a statement from DSig’s executive board to The Chronicle, they were made aware of the incident Jan. 25 and “took immediate action to determine the facts by speaking with individuals who witnessed the event that occurred.”
“No person should ever have to experience unwanted sexual advances, and our heart goes out to the individual who experienced this during an event with our chapter,” the executive board’s statement noted.
The statement added that the chapter decided to remove the new member “just hours” after the incident was brought to their attention. The Chronicle was able to identify this individual, but he did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication of this report.
Bradford noted that DSig’s investigation of the sexual misconduct claim and subsequent removal of a member does not replace the University’s formal sexual misconduct process, noting limitations on what fraternities are able to do regarding sexual assault.
“Although the men in the IFC are unqualified to investigate the details of an alleged incident, our members are qualified to act on information related to the environment that their events create for women and men who attend,” he wrote.
Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, declined to comment. Bradford praised DSig’s removal of its new member, adding that it was their obligation to “create a more comfortable and safer environment.”
“That Delta Sigma Phi chose to drop this new member because of how his presence made women feel attending their events is a positive step in improving the culture surrounding fraternity-sponsored events,” he wrote.
For DSig, it goes beyond removing the new member. In the statement from the fraternity’s executive board, they noted that they were pursuing education about sexual assault prevention, including P.A.C.T.—a student-facilitated training on gender violence sponsored by the Women's Center—for their members, and reaching out to sororities for feedback on additional measures to prevent sexual assault.
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“As part of Delta Sigma Phi’s mission of Building Better Men, we are committed to educating our members about sexual assault prevention and have zero tolerance for sexual misconduct,” the statement read.
Please view the full statement here: