Widgets Magazine

SAE housing suspended for two years due to sexual harassment concerns

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.

About Catherine Zaw

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

    Legally speaking, Stanford is a private institution, not a government arm, so first amendment protections don’t necessarily apply here. Regardless, Stanford is not stopping students from saying whatever they want; the members of SAE are not being expelled, nor is SAE being forcibly disbanded as a frat on campus, but exclusive housing is a privilege not a right. Stanford’s Fundamental Standard states that students are expected to respect and uphold the rights/dignity of others regardless of sex, gender identity, etc. and that failure to uphold this standard will result in appropriate punishment. SAE has failed to respect the dignity of women not only with this event, but by actions that have led to them to being reputed as a house of date rapists. Their community isn’t destroyed; the frat is still on campus, just without the housing that enables them to maintain their dangerously misogynistic attitude in an isolated setting without being checked.

    P.S.-Sexist speech IS hate speech. Just because it’s so normalized by our misogynistic society doesn’t mean it doesn’t do significant harm and perpetuate oppressive attitudes. The comparisons you draw are fallacious and unequal because there is a difference between feeling offended and feeling unsafe. In the two examples you gave, the people calling for silencing hold the power, due to privileged social position (heterosexuals) or ability to threaten with violence (religious extremist groups). They are offended, but not unsafe, because they are not being fundamentally disempowered by the words or the attitude behind the words. On the other hand, a woman feeling unsafe because of misogynistic language is largely due to existing in a culture in which she IS objectively unsafe. Sexist language helps to perpetuate that culture, which rapes, belittles, harasses, and sometimes kills women. Misogyny isn’t just “offensive” to me, it’s terrifying. If you support the fight against sexual assault, you should support the fight against rape culture and the language that allows it to continue.

  • alum

    Yes, it’s unfortunate. Just ignore it.

  • person

    I think it’s fair to expect you to control your emotions about racism when racism is not part of a situation. You don’t have to disregard them, how could you? But people can expect you to have a more nuanced point of view and a more level head than to say that a single offense against your priorities automatically means guilt on another front that is not under assault here.

    A comparison of this situation to racial oppression might be appropriate if it’s a fair comparison. An assumption that because it is a form of oppression it must be white oppression is hateful and bigoted. No one is saying you have to be calm about it, just fair.

    I am a woman who just thinks the punishment doesn’t fit the crime here. A joke for two year suspension of an organization is ridiculous and scary. No one is ok with what happened here. We should be allies on this topic. But you make the claim that I must be white and must have no self-worth? You get over yourself.

  • Imani Howard

    SAE is a place where, in my 4 years at Stanford, I have experienced, on multiple occasions racist, homophobic and sexist aggression. I’m not alone. Stanford is deciding to take action on the issue of SAE’s problematic politics regarding females, which is fine because at least their standing up for something. Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that jazz. An overwhelming portion of the student body is celebrating this move by the university, whether they be loud and proud activists like myself or girls sitting quietly in their sorority houses glad that they won’t be pressured again to go to a place where they are made to feel unsafe. Or people of minority groups who have experienced marginalization and disrespect at their parties. Or openly gay individuals who have been harassed about their dress or preferences. People who are upset about SAE losing their house are mostly members of SAE. We can argue about it all we want, but SAE fucked up in more ways than this and that’s nobody’s fault but theirs. Welcome to the real world, where sexual harassment is punishable and no one cares about how you feel. #bye

  • Uhhh

    Except men are overwhelming the victims of violence in this country- 76% of homicide victims are male- so your post script kind of falls apart.

  • username

    A seven-month long investigation by Stanford apparently did not find any racism, homophobia, marginalization or disrespect of minorities, or harassment of gay individuals.

    And to take official action based on “problematic politics” would be an extremely concerning move, although I don’t think politics is really what you meant here and offense toward females is actually a fair point 🙂

    But they found a few jokes on one night. And SAE should be punished for it and for not stopping it. But that doesn’t give you the right to assume that everyone involved in this or who supports it is white and oppressive in every way you can come up with.

  • Matt

    Right. Men are the victims of most violence, so therefore we shouldn’t take a stand against sexism.

  • RandomStudent

    I was simply stating that tolerance for “offensive” ideas is simply a fundamental prerequisite for a true diversity and pluralist thought. And, no, i think censoring language doesn’t help the fight against sexual assault, but in fact perpetuates it by not allowing an open discussion of ideas and facts.

    You’re right, first amendment rights do not apply, but if you really want to make a legal argument, then every attempt at restricting free speech in higher education has been struck down or dropped. Retaliatory action intended to produce a chilling effect beyond the direct scope of censorship seems to go against the spirit of Stanford’s motto.

    1. Lets look at this from another perspective. Lets assume a few students affiliated with the SSJP openly espouse the destruction of Israel. (politics aside, this is just for the sake of argument) Does that give the school enough grounds to conduct punitive action against the entire SSJP because some students feel “unsafe” from that speech?

    The drive for university to make students feel “comfortable and safe”, or in your words “dignified”, IS a slippery slope. Of course, I purposefully choose issues with established power dynamics to illustrate my point: At what point does feeling uncomfortable become feeling unsafe? Lets say one person feels “unsafe” around another person of another race. Do they get to force that other person to accommodate their need to “feel safe and comfortable”? Absolutely not, regardless of the semantics of power. Feeling someway about someone does not give you any right to coerce them to act differently unless they are violating your rights. So why is this any different for someone who feels unsafe at a particular house? (full disclosure, I’m not greek)

    Now if there is evidence that date rape, or even the just the possession of date rape drugs, occurred at SAE, then not only should the university take action, but the proper law enforcement agencies MUST be contact and the students responsible prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Such acts are UNACCEPTABLE.

    As it stands, there is no evidence, no formal case, merely rumors and accusations. “Actions that have led to them to being reputed as a house of date rapists” reeks of McCarthyism.

    2. I won’t disagree with you that Sexist jokes might perpetuate a negative social norm, much like racist jokes perpetuate stereotypes regarding race. However, the current enforcement of political correctness creates a caustic environment which prohibits a real and honest discussion of practical solutions against sexual assault.

    In an atmosphere where discussions need “trigger warning” (they are real, but it has been used as an poor excuse for censorship), and safety tips are “victim blaming” (Of course, real victim blaming still happens to a large extent, it’s a false dichotomy to assume one or the other), it’s so tempting to have the title IX office come in to sweep it under a rug to “solve this issue”, regardless of whether or not these policies are productive to the Stanford environment. But it’s important that these proceedings are established with full transparency to ensure that a crime as serious as rape gets treated with equal seriousness of thought and due process. It might be tempting to dismiss my statement as academic speculation, but feel free to read the a recent NYker article from a Harvard professor that teaches sexual assault law. http://tinyurl.com/lpc4yat

  • ADPaterson

    Looking back from the 1970s, this is Political Correctness run amock… can anyone clarify what happened PHYSICALLY? Who was violently assaulted? Were any police reports filed at the time? Was attendance at the function voluntary or mandated? This all looks like another episode of the long-running (decades old) “Devil takes the hind-most campaign” by the University to absorb “selective” housing back into the Univ draw system via “selective enforcement”. Is this the death penalty for borish story-telling? Were students free to leave if offended? What happens in the non-Greek Row Houses if someone uses politically incorrect language…? Are all residents of THAT house thrown out as cads?

  • ADPaterson

    UVA has now set the bar for what Administrations can get away with — the charges need not be verified or supported with concrete evidence; only alleged: http://dailycaller.com/2014/12/09/uva-wont-reinstate-frats-after-rape-story-falls-apart/

  • alum

    Physically speaking, a series of longitudinal waves of air assaulted the eardrums of the innocent and unsuspecting partygoers who voluntarily sat in a room to hear jokes and had the option to not attend or leave anytime but chose not to.

  • disappointed in LSJU

    You are not safe on any campus where frat boys (or other adolescent male students) tell dirty jokes? Where did you plan on attending college? Statements like this one highlight the ridiculousness of the University’s action.

  • ADPaterson

    “Oppressive” is reserved for Stalin’s USSR, East Germany, Cuba, Spain under Franco, or Iran since 1979, and Southern KKK Sheriffs in the 1950s-60s. SAE is far from a fascist military regime that jails dissidents, conducts rigged investigations, and seizes housing of political opponents… hmmm. Who is displaying “oppressive” apparatchick behavior in this episode?

  • commenter

    Wow the hypocrisy… never okay to make sweeping generalizations or stereotypes about any race based a few people or incidents (I agree), yet you condemn all of SAE as misogynistic assholes off the actions of a few people on one night…

  • commenter

    I’m very curious what you would say to all the SAE brothers who are minorities. Are they also “subscribing to the white agenda at the cost of their own self worth”? You obviously have very little experience with the greek system, and contrary to your theories, frats (at least at Stanford, which is all I can speak for) do not have racist sexist agendas. You’re comments are not intelligent or productive. I invite you to engage in real discussion and not just dismiss everyone else’s thoughts as ignorant and entitled.

  • skeptic

    Not true. The article says the frat is banned due to sexual harassment concerns. When in reality it is due to a feminist claiming to be offended at a joke. Where is the factuality in this article?!

  • skeptic

    You would feel safer in communist north Korea. No offenses allowed there.

  • GetOffYourPedestal

    Fine. Let’s continue the cycle of oppression. You can look cool to your friends.

  • JustSayin

    From what I remember, the joke before and during my time at Stanford about ‘S.A.E.’ was “Sexual Assault Expected.” I’m sure that was based on more than a ‘few jokes one night.’

  • Privileged I’m Told

    Sorry but in the “real world” (something that you haven’t experienced yet) kid, your diatribe about oppression will be as laughable as your ethnic studies degree. Your only concern is getting rid of anything you see as a bastion of “white privilege.” Well guess what, that fraternity is more diverse than any group you belong to on campus and they’ll be more successful than you too. Not because of race issues made up in you and your professors heads, because while you focus on being oppressed, they’re focusing on grades and connections. Stick to the Bay Area, you’ll need all the help you can get to make a living.

  • Privileged I’m Told

    How about walking out ? Why does someone have to pay because your daddy didn’t raise you to be a man and STAND UP FOR YOURSELF. If you don’t like something you can remove yourself from the situation without taking out an entire organization. The real world is going to be very disappointing to you sweetheart.

  • Privileged I’m Told

    So now someone can’t say what they like in their own home? I think you’re putting too much starch in your brown shirt.

  • alum

    “I’m sure”

    Good argument.

  • Wake up people

    And thus we open the era of Stanford under Stalin.

    Exactly why there should be a civil liberties or history GER, because apparently that’s something Stanford students are entirely unfamiliar with.

  • Friedrich Nietzsche


    Of course minorities can’t themselves be “racist”–they invented the stigmatized word “racism” as a tool to seize power from those who were politically stronger: white males. How dare the Strong turn “racism” back on it’s very creators!

    Clearly whites misunderstood that “racism” was created only to be a tool only to serve the minority will to power, not for white people to check minority privilege.

  • Captain Obvious
  • Rory MacQueen

    “3) “SAE and all other Stanford fraternities are pretty diverse”. Are you in SAE? Because you’re telling some pretty funny jokes.”

    No, he/she is not joking. If you bothered to check, SAE has over the past several years had quite a diverse membership, criss-crossing different nationalities, ethnicities, and political beliefs. I live there for two years and it was far more diverse than other houses I lived in or visited while at Stanford. But of course, these are the kind of inconvenient facts that the administration (and, apparently, you) are keen to ignore.

    It’s certainly true that fraternities, being by definition a collection of all guys, can risk creating an environment that is unwelcoming to people who are not like them. SAE is trying to take active steps to do this. We need to do more. But setting a precedent where a house can punished because some visitors to the house find some of the things they talk about offensive is an awful precedent to set, if you think about it for 5 seconds.

    Every year Gaieties puts on a show, which, in the opinion of many (including minority ethnic groups http://www.stanforddaily.com/2010/12/01/ujamaa-staff-and-residents-walk-out-of-gaieties-two-groups-schedule-talks/ ) is quite offensive. And, unlike in the case of SAE, freshman RAs organize viewings of the show for the whole dorm, so as a freshman student you are strongly encouraged (perhaps required? I can’t remember) by the administration to attend. I remember quite distinctly one Gaieties show I went to, in which they had a scene where it was insinuated (in no subtle way) that all girls who went to state schools were essentially little more than prostitutes. Anyone (myself included) with female relatives in state schools would presumably have found that shockingly offensive. But do I think we should cancel Gaieties? No, of course not. Because freedom of expression means precisely that you allow the types of expression you find most offensive. And, incidentally, in the case of Gaieties, the University agrees, which demonstrates the level of hypocrisy to which they have stooped.

  • anon

    That’s a nation wide joke about SAE — not a Stanford thing. If the acronym fits….

  • anon
  • Kraken

    “The case in question, however, is about behavior that infringed upon the rights of others in a discriminatory manner.”

    i hear it was a joke. so is not being offended by jokes at a party a right now?
    you “OMG thats offensive!” types need to pull up your big girl panties and get thicker skin

  • Hyper PC wins again. Feelings police in full force on college campuses.

  • Casual Observer

    Interesting note: Stanford Quarterback Kevin Hogan, along with several other respected Stanford Athletes are in SAE. (The Greek system at Stanford has always been very accommodating to varsity athletes, unlike most schools where it’s rare to find exceptional athletes in fraternities).

    Coming off stories of the housing suspension, there is now Buzz that Hogan may be a transfer candidate: http://www.ruleoftree.com/2015/1/5/7496237/is-kevin-hogan-a-graduate-transfer-candidate-for-texas-michigan-or-maryland

    Since Hogan is a resident, I wouldn’t be surprised if these two things are related.

  • Here We Go

    Watch “The Hunting Ground” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBNHGi36nlM

  • Zee

    When I was a student, SAE guys used to rank women as they walked by. I personally saw SAE alums with female applications sit around and rank their hotness. Who was even giving them these applications? These guys weren’t on the admission staff. I don’t know what happened recently but I know what I witnessed personally.

  • Mark Freeman

    Hopefully, as recent “incidents” across the country come to light, Stanford will consider ending all relations with a group like SAE. Or will it wait for something like this? See http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/03/10/1369823/-Frat-which-declared-they-ll-never-be-a-nigg-r-in-SAE-recently-killed-hazed-black-pledgee-to-death?detail=email#

  • Kiri Fury

    Someone who had to pledge to abide by a whole list of rules in order to live in said home, you mean? Rules often more arbitrary then ‘don’t make jokes about rape’? We aren’t talking about a rancher on his granddad’s property, dude. These young men live in this house because they represent an organization. Sounds like they weren’t doing quite the job they were supposed to.

  • porter robinson

    you remind me of a kid i knew in high school. he was african american, and he deemed pretty much everything that he had an issue with as the result of racial inequality. however, the fact of the matter in most of those situations was that race had absolutely nothing to do with the issue, and he was too caught up in some kind of racial inequality crusade to admit that the root cause could possibly be anything but racism. i both understand and heavily support the goal of full racial equality, but i do not understand people who are so caught up in their own search for “equality” (read: retribution for the atrocities that white groups committed against various races or religious groups decades or millenia ago that have NOTHING to do with most modern societal issues). that being said, i do believe that punishment for both the childish acts of some sae members and the lack of response from sae leadership was necessary, but a punishment of both sexual harassment and alcohol safety seminars along with a less severe punishment for the fraternity itself would be much more appropriate. the measures that the administration has taken are ridiculous, and should not be supported. that is all i have to say.