U of M frat council orders members to attend sexual violence presentation

University of Minnesota fraternities earned a pretty bad rep last fall after three women alleged they were sexual assaulted at frat parties in the span of three weeks.

As a reaction, a U of M administrator and a Greek director are wagging the finger at frats by urging them to attend a presentation on preventing sexual violence.

Though the U isn't able to force students to attend, the Interfraternity Council is requiring that at least 75 percent of each frat is present, says Council President Joe Sandbulte.

"The reason we didn't make it mandatory for literally every member is that we had to be realistic with job, work schedules," says Sandbulte. "We definitely are recommending and requesting that as many people as possible in each chapter attends."

Since the spring semester began last month, there have been two reports of women being sexual assaulted at frats, reports the Minnesota Daily.

On February 16, U of M Vice Provost for Student Affairs Jerry Rinehart and Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life Director Chad Ellsworth penned a letter to campus Greeks declaring that the college "cannot tolerate sexual violence."

The letter goes on to invite its recipients to the optional presentation on deterring sexual assaults, which will be held on campus April 4.

Here's the full letter from Rinehart and Ellsworth:

February 16, 2011

Dear Members of the Fraternity and Sorority Community,

Following the alleged sexual assaults which occurred in several fraternity houses in the fall, the University sent a message encouraging the community to Stand Up against sexual violence. That message also clearly stated that we cannot tolerate sexual violence in our community.

Standing up against sexual violence means that we need to support those who have been sexually assaulted. Supporting them means encouraging them to seek assistance, validating what they say happened to them, not blaming them, and, most importantly, not harassing or threatening them for reporting the assault.

Standing up against sexual violence means that we need to hold those who commit these crimes responsible for their behavior. Values based organizations hold themselves to higher standards and expectations. This means that if your chapter is considering disciplining a member accused of sexual assault, the consequences must fit the crime. Suspending an individual for a period of time may not be the proper sanction for a sexual assault committed by a member of a values-based organization.

We must create an environment where sexual assaults do not occur. To do that, we must first create communities in which survivors can come forward without fear of being ridiculed or discouraged from seeking justice. A supportive environment for survivors of sexual assault can lead to more perpetrators being held accountable for their actions.

We hope that we can count on members of our fraternity and sorority community to lead the way in creating an environment that does not tolerate sexual violence. We also you hope you will attend a special presentation regarding preventing sexual violence that will be held in the Sports Pavilion on April 4, at 7:00 pm (more information about this event will be forthcoming). A strong fraternity and sorority presence will demonstrate the community's commitment to standing up against sexual violence.

Jerry Rinehart Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Chad Ellsworth Program Director, Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life

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