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EXCLUSIVE: Sexual-assault activists yelled obscenities at us, SDSU frat president says

A fraternity accused of hurling obscenities at sexual-assault activists during a Take Back the Night march Nov. 21 is turning the tables on the activists, accusing them of verbally abusing frat members, unprovoked, that night.

“The lewd acts reported in recent news stories did not take place at our facility, and none of our members were associated with them,” Austin Dean, president of the Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter at San Diego State University, told The College Fix in an email.

University students, mostly part of the group Concerned Students of SDSU, issued a list of demands to the administration Tuesday following their allegations against Sigma Phi Epsilon and Delta Sigma Phi.

The activists want members of the two frats, including the student body president, to resign their student government positions, according to The Daily AztecThey also demanded a “gender/sexuality studies class as part of the General Education requirements.”

The campus Greek life leadership has already suspended all social activities following the accusations. Delta Sigma Phi has yet to publicly answer allegations that it waved dildos at the marchers. The school is investigating all allegations, the Daily said.

But the activists’ story about Sigma Phi Epsilon, as recounted in a “rape culture” document they distributed, is exactly backwards, Dean said.

“We are unaware as to why the protesters chose our facility as a target for their march,” Dean told The Fix. “There have been no alleged or substantiated sexual assaults occurring within our campus facility, and Sigma Phi Epsilon has a history of promoting sexual assault prevention on the SDSU campus.”

Dean said “only a few residents of the facility were home” on the Take Back the March night – most were at a “date function at a different location.”

Following the chapter’s initial investigation, Dean “learned that protesters, organized by community activists, were marching from fraternity house to fraternity house yelling obscenities and making verbal attacks through a speakerphone,” he said. “When they arrived at our campus facility and began yelling, a single member of our chapter shouted for them to go home.

“We are continuing to investigate whether anything that was said by this student was inappropriate, but have been unable to substantiate this claim,” Dean said.

Dean said the marchers didn’t invite his frat to participate “in what has previously been a united and peaceful campus event,” adding that frat members have contacted the marchers “to discuss ways that Sigma Phi Epsilon can participate in future events.”

Sigma Phi Epsilon educates new members about “healthy relationships” and its members are “active participants” in bystander-intervention programs, Dean said.

Its “Residential Learning Community is a complete rejection of the frat house stereotype,” Dean said. “Female faculty fellows host academic and personal development programs in the facility, and serve as a mentors for our members. It is not the kind of environment where sexual harassment or assault are likely to occur.”

The Take Back the Night marchers have not publicly provided any hard evidence, such as photos or videos, to back their accusations against the two chapters, as The College Fix previously noted.

Concerned Students for SDSU is pressing forward with its agenda despite Sigma Phi Epsilon’s categorical rejection of the group’s claims about the frat’s behavior that night.

According to the Daily, the activists told the school’s Title IX coordinator they also want: President Elliott Hirshman to hold an “open forum to discuss sexism and sexual violence at the beginning of the spring 2015 semester”; the president of the InterFraternity Council to step down; the campus police to “stop victim-blaming messages and racial profiling”; and the school to “provide ongoing support, including funding and staffing to programs already underway, such as Aztecs For Awareness, Sexual Violence Task Force and the Andrea O’Donnell Womyn’s Outreach Association.”

Concerned Students for SDSU member Jordan Busse also discussed the group’s allegations against the frats with the coordinator, saying “what hurt most” was that the marchers haven’t received an apology.

Another campus fraternity, Phi Kappa Theta, released a YouTube video titled “It’s On Us” following the allegations against the frats, referring back to the national It’s On Us sexual-assault awareness campaign.

Greg Piper is an assistant editor at The College Fix. (@GregPiper)

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IMAGE: Fox 5 San Diego

About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” Previously he led media and public relations at Seattle’s Discovery Institute, a free-market think tank. Greg is developing a Web series about a college newspaper, COPY, whose pilot episode was a semifinalist in the TV category for the Scriptapalooza competition in 2012. He graduated in 2001 with a B.A. from Seattle Pacific University, where he co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon.

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