Eline de Bruijn | Staff Writer
The North American Interfraternity Conference and the National Panhellenic Conference announced in November they do not support the Safe Campus Act after pressure from many of their national member fraternities and sororities.
The first sorority to speak out was Alpha Phi, which has a chapter at UNT. The controversial bill would change how sexual assault is reported at college campuses, requiring victims of sexual violence to report and investigate with police before any university can investigate on their own.
(Take a look at UNT’s crime statistics for 2014.)
The National Panhellenic Conference is an umbrella group made up of many sororities, including eight at UNT. The North American Interfraternity Conference includes 18 chapters of fraternities and sororities at UNT.
Alpha Phi’s public opposition to the bill led to seven other sororities, who do not have chapters at UNT, to state on respective websites their discontent with the bill.
Officers from UNT’s Alpha Phi chapter said they could not comment on the matter.
Ted Rutherford, spokesman for the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, said in an email it is encouraging to see groups who strongly supported the bill at first to withdraw, such as Alpha Tau Omega and Sigma Nu.
“[It] gives us hope that people recognize the ways in which this bill has the potential to create a hostile environment for survivors while waiting for the legal process to take its course,” Rutherford said. “It only takes a few brave groups who speak out to create an avalanche effect.”
The National Panhellenic Conference thanked Rep. Kay Granger of Texas for her initiative in co-sponsoring the Safe Campus Act in a statement on the NPC website and announced their change in position.[df-subtitle]How safe do you feel at UNT? Take this survey.[/df-subtitle]
Greek life often times has an influence on campus culture and can shift change, Rutherford said.
“A large-scale commitment by Greeks to promote a culture of consent and accountability would go a long way toward establishing social norms that could prevent instances of sexual violence over the long term,” Rutherford said.
Phi Kappa Sigma is a North American Interfraternity Conference chapter at UNT, where Doug Campbell is vice president. He said greek life delegates have attended seminars to raise awareness of sexual assault on campus.
“A lot of the times the victims may not be comfortable going to the police,” Campbell said earlier this year. “[This bill] is just creating double standards and looking the other way in big cases and situations like that.”
Featured Image: The National Panhellenic Conference is one of two large groups that have rejected the Safe Campus Act. Courtesy | Wikimedia