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USC suspends Sigma Nu fraternity chapter after reports of drugging, sexual assault

USC students gather Friday afternoon at the Sigma Nu fraternity house near the USC campus.
USC students gather Friday afternoon at the Sigma Nu fraternity house near the USC campus. USC officials have placed the Sigma Nu fraternity chapter on interim suspension following allegations that women were drugged and sexually assaulted at the fraternity house.
(Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

USC officials have placed a fraternity chapter on interim suspension following allegations that women were drugged and sexually assaulted at the house.

In a crime alert issued Thursday, the USC Department of Public Safety said campus officials received “a report of sexual assault” at the Sigma Nu fraternity house at 660 W. 28th St.

On Wednesday night, six students reported they had been drugged at the fraternity house on Sept. 27, according to daily incident reports from the USC Department of Public Safety. One student reported being drugged and sexually assaulted at the fraternity house, and one student reported being drugged while attending a party at an unknown location.

“The university also has received reports of drugs being placed into drinks during a party at the same fraternity house, leading to possible drug-facilitated sexual assaults,” according to the alert.
The chapter was placed on interim suspension and isn’t allowed to host or organize any activities, according to the alert. No parties or other social gatherings will be allowed at the fraternity house during the suspension.

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In a statement, university officials said they take reports of sexual assault extremely seriously and have a response team in place.

“The university provides for a fair, thorough and timely resolution process,” according to the university’s statement. “We are deeply concerned when any student experiences any kind of trauma, and we offer both private and confidential support resources, as well as supportive measures, to involved parties.”

Signs taped to the Sigma Nu fraternity.
Signs taped to the Sigma Nu fraternity.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Officials said that they were not able to discuss case specifics because of student privacy laws, and that they are “unequivocal in our commitment to fostering a safe environment for all of our students, faculty and staff.”

The university notified Sigma Nu’s national headquarters Thursday about the allegations and suspension, according to a statement by Christopher Brenton, director of communications for Sigma Nu Fraternity Inc.

“The fraternity is concerned by these serious allegations and will seek to work with University officials to investigate the matter,” Brenton said. “The fraternity will determine its further actions based upon the investigation. Sigma Nu Fraternity remains committed to responding appropriately to all matters of confirmed misconduct.”

The Sigma Nu fraternity suspension has ignited a fury of protests against toxic Greek culture

In an internal memo sent to parents of current fraternity members and alumni, the national headquarters said the individual accused of sexual assault has been suspended by both the school chapter and national organization pending a complete investigation.

The letter states that the fraternity will “fully cooperate with the investigation being conducted by the university.”

The USC Interfraternity Council said in a statement that it is “disturbed and angered” by the reports.

“We are deeply apologetic for the trauma caused and impact on victims,” the organization said. “We are disgusted this violence took place in our community. There is no place for this abhorrent misconduct nor a culture that supports it in the Interfraternity Council community at the University of Southern California or anywhere.”

The student-led organization, which governs 15 chapters, said it will consider next steps to hold members accountable and has suspended all social activities in the meantime.

USC junior student Paige Hewlett makes a sign to attach to the Sigma Nu fraternity house near the USC campus.
USC junior student Paige Hewlett makes a sign to attach to the Sigma Nu fraternity house near the USC campus.
(Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

USC officials, meanwhile, have reported all known information to the Los Angeles Police Department, according to the campus crime alert issued Thursday.

Anyone who might have information related to the drug-assisted sexual assaults at the Sigma Nu fraternity house should call the USC Department of Public Safety at (213) 740-6000 for the University Park Campus, (323) 442-1000 for the Health Sciences Campus or (213) 485-6571 for the LAPD Southwest Division.

USC officials said they also encourage anyone who wishes to do so to report the incidents to the Office for Equity, Equal Opportunity and Title IX.


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