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SAE housing suspended for two years due to sexual harassment concerns

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According to a University statement made earlier today, Stanford has suspended the on-campus housing privileges of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity for the next two academic years, effective spring quarter this year, as a result of an investigation undertaken by the University regarding sexual harassment concerns.

The University reported that an SAE event last spring had created a hostile environment for female students and that the fraternity had not provided a sufficient response to concerns about the event, violating the University’s sexual harassment policy.

Although SAE will continue to be a recognized fraternity at Stanford, the fraternity will no longer have the privilege and responsibility of having a dedicated on-campus house.

The University clarified that SAE’s loss of housing privileges is not specifically due to the new policy that was announced earlier this year, which removes a Greek organization’s eligibility for on-campus housing indefinitely following one major or three minor violations of University policy or law, but as a “Title IX remedy to ensure a safe, non-hostile environment for students.”

“This action is not a reflection on any individual in the house, as many of the members are positive contributors to the Stanford community. But it is a necessary step given continuing concerns about behaviors in the house as a whole,” the statement read.

The University’s investigation was conducted by outside counsel and involved interviews with more than 30 individuals. The investigation revealed that members of a campus sorority that had attended the event in May were subjected to offensive material during the event, which reportedly included graphic sexual content and offensive commentary regarding domestic physical abuse of women. Additionally, the investigation also found that the leadership of the house did not appropriately respond to concerns about the event that had been raised in advance based on a similar SAE event from the previous year.

“Stanford deeply values free speech,” the statement continued. “The case in question, however, is about behavior that infringed upon the rights of others in a discriminatory manner. Stanford has an obligation to ensure an academic and living environment free of harassment or intimidation and in full compliance with the requirements of Title IX.”

The investigation also noted a series of other concerns about the fraternity. In 2009, after a previous investigation of concerns at the house, social restrictions were placed on the fraternity and members were also required to take training regarding sexual harassment, sexual assault and responsible alcohol use.

Additionally, during the 2013-14 academic year, the University became aware of potential instances of drugged drinks and other misconduct at the SAE house, and although those reports could not be substantiated because witnesses were unwilling to participate in the investigation or were unable to identify individuals involved, the University wrote that “[the concerns’] number and nature add to the University’s concern for ensuring the safety of Stanford students.”

The University is giving SAE an opportunity to appeal the loss of housing to the Vice Provost of Student Affairs. However, if the suspension is upheld, the University will work with individual SAE members to find alternate housing options for spring quarter. During winter quarter, SAE will be prohibited from holding social events involving alcohol or non-member guests.

SAE will be able to re-apply for on-campus housing for the 2017-18 academic year, but will need to also complete a series of educational and other remedial activities.

When reached for comment, SAE representatives said they had no comment at this time.

Contact Catherine Zaw at czaw13 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Catherine Zaw was formerly the Managing Editor of News for Vol. 245 and Vol. 246. To contact her, please email czaw13@gmail.com.