Students march to SAE headquarters demanding removal of NU chapter’s membership after assault, drugging allegations


Colin Boyle/The Daily Northwestern

Student demonstrators march on Sheridan Road from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house on North Campus to the fraternity’s national headquarters. The protesters demanded the removal of the chapter from NU following a report of multiple alleged sexual assaults and possible druggings at the fraternity.

Catherine Kim, Reporter

More than 300 students marched on Sheridan Road on Friday afternoon, starting from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house and ending at its national headquarters, in response to the University notifying students earlier this week about a recent report of multiple alleged sexual assaults and possible druggings at the fraternity house.

During the demonstration, called “Stand with Survivors: March Down Sheridan,” protesters presented a list of demands of the administration and SAE national headquarters, including the removal of the SAE chapter at Northwestern. Protesters read aloud SAE’s official creed, titled “The True Gentleman,” as well as Northwestern’s definition of consent and an excerpt of Title IX. Several survivors also delivered speeches, recounting their own experiences coping with the trauma of sexual assault.

The event, planned over social media after a post by Weinberg junior Asha Sawhney called for a protest against SAE, follows a University announcement on Monday night informing students that it had received a report last week alleging four female students were possibly given date rape drugs at Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity on Jan. 21. The report alleges that two of the students believe they were also sexually assaulted, according to an email to students from the University’s Chief of Police Bruce Lewis.

Lewis said that on Feb. 3, the University also received an anonymous report alleging that another female student was sexually assaulted, potentially with the use of a date rape drug, after attending an event at a second, unnamed fraternity house the previous night.

The Sexual Harassment Prevention Office is investigating the reports, according to the email.

Interfraternity Council executive board and chapter presidents decided Tuesday to suspend social events indefinitely, excluding those that already had contracts signed. Associated Student Government also released a statement calling for the suspension of SAE.

Protesters demanded on Friday that the University increase funding for the Center of Awareness, Response and Education, reinstate counseling services at the Women’s Center and reexamine policies so they ensure safety and accountability for students.

Amanda Odasz, outreach chair of Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators, said the march was about supporting survivors, holding perpetrators accountable and recognizing that the alleged assaults are not “isolated incidents.”

“They’re happening within a broader culture of sexual violence, and we are calling for greater accountability of IFC fraternities as well greater accountability on our campus as a whole,” said the Communication senior, who helped organize the demonstration.

On Friday, SHAPE and Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault released a joint statement condemning the alleged assault and druggings, urging IFC chapters “to engage in critical self-reflection to examine the ways in which they promote or hinder the safety of guests.” The statement also urged the University to “revisit” the removal of counseling services from the Women’s Center, which was effective Winter Quarter.

In a statement released Tuesday, an SAE national organization spokesman said staff at the headquarters were working with the University and chapter leaders on the investigation, and had launched their own investigation into the incident. Manos Proussaloglou, Northwestern’s SAE president, said in the statement that the chapter was “appalled and deeply concerned” about the reports.

Communication sophomore Lindsey Weiss, who said they are a survivor of sexual assault, spoke to the crowd at the demonstration about the trauma that every survivor has to live with. Weiss thanked the community for showing support for survivors and expressed hope for creating social change following these reports.

“I feel in spite of everything that has happened and that continues to happen, that I’ve won,” Weiss said. “That in continuing my life and in continuing to strive and to do good work and be present in all of my communities, I have overcome what is happening to me. I have won.”

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