Fraternities at the University of Southern California could soon begin hosting social gatherings again following allegations of sexual assault, so long as the groups follow a new set of guidelines. Among the rules is a requirement that security guards be present not only at a party's entry points and gathering areas, but also at the stairs or in the hallways that lead to bedrooms.
"With over 4,000 students participating in fraternities and sororities, the Greek community serves as an important role in many of our students' sense of belonging," a letter from the school's Working Group on Interfraternity Council (IFC) Culture, Prevention and Accountability outlining the new protocols stated. "However, it is clear that social environments within the IFC community require enhanced attention to safety planning and risk prevention."
The university said once the school can confirm that an eligible chapter complies with all of the new guidelines, it will first be able to host two gatherings per month beginning February 3. Then, if a chapter continues to meet all of the requirements, it can begin hosting a full calendar of events beginning March 3.
In addition to increased security, other requirements the fraternities must meet include having all chapter members participate in "prevention education workshops," attending a meeting with a Fraternity Sorority Event Review Committee before and after each social gathering, allowing a "risk team" to inspect the event and signing a new agreement from the university.
"We are confident implementation of these steps will enhance safety and effect positive change for USC's IFC chapters," Dr. Charles F. Zukoski, the university's provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said in a statement.
Last October, the school reported drug-facilitated sexual assaults at a Sigma Nu fraternity house, where drugs were allegedly put into drinks at a party. The fraternity was placed on interim suspension, meaning it was no longer allowed to host or organize any activities or gatherings.
University President Carol Foltat the time that there was a "troubling delay in acting on this information, and specifically in evaluating it for notification to the community."
In the fall semester of 2021, all 16 of the university's fraternity chapters were banned from hosting social activities indefinitely, according to Zukoski. Four chapters were also later placed on either modified or interim suspension.
Zukoski said that chapters in good standing were notified about the new guidelines last week, but that the chapters on interim and modified suspension will not be eligible to host gatherings.
"Our community must work together to end sexual assault on our campuses," he said. "We appreciate everyone who brings forward concerns and reports sexual assault and other issues impacting safety and well-being, and we understand how difficult this can be."
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