The University of Arkansas responded on two fronts today to the recent allegation by an 18-year-old freshman that she was sexually assaulted by basketball players while partying at the Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity house on campus in late August. The prosecuting attorney concluded there was insufficient evidence to file criminal charges over what others involved said were consensual acts. The woman, through an attorney, has continued to insist an assault occurred and said she's contemplating further action.
* The Athletic Department has completed its review and decided that two- to three-game suspensions will be given to players involved. The players are not identified and the department release doesn't say how many will be disciplined. Here's the full statement. (There's also mention of community service, individual counseling and educational sessions for all team members on exercising "good judgment:", etc.) Said Athletic Director Jeff Long:
"...Coach Pelphrey has consistently and proactively dealt with inappropriate conduct and other team issues. Coach Pelphrey and his staff have my full support as they continue to lead our basketball program in a manner that demands student-athlete accountability on and off the court."
* Separately, the University issued a statement about an ongoing investigation of violations of the student life code and said some restrictions had already been placed on the fraternity where the party was held in late August. That statement follows.
Two basketball players were witnessed having sexual contact with the woman, while a third, according to a witness, was grinding against her in in a frat bedroom. They said the woman consented. Several days later, a fourth basketball player made a coarse, jocular statement on his Twitter account that seemed to refer to the incident. Thursday's athletic department statement gives no indication of whether all four face some form of discipline.
KNEEJERK REACTION: 1) "Cleared" is a poor word choice to refer to the players when the woman still insists she was assaulted and when the prosecutor didn't use that term or anything like it. 2) Richardson-era UA precedent holds: a publicly disclosed gang bang equals a couple of no-consequence games on the pines. At least the athletic director didn't say "boys will be boys."
UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS NEWS RELEASE
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas office of community standards and student ethics is conducting an inquiry into possible violations of the code of student life at the Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity – commonly known as Fiji. The office of Greek life is assisting with this process, and already has taken preliminary action in the case.
The inquiry is the result of allegations that the fraternity held an unregistered party on August 27, and served alcohol to minors.
On Sept. 4, the fraternity’s activities and functions were placed on hold pending the outcome and assessment of charges. The fraternity was allowed to take part in men’s recruitment, but traditional bid-day activities were limited. On Sept. 8, Greek life representatives met with chapter members to discuss the inquiry and extend the hold on chapter activities.
In a statement from the fraternity’s national office, executive director Bill Martin supported the university’s actions.
“Phi Gamma Delta International Fraternity concurs with the university's suspension of chapter activities while this matter is being investigated,” said Martin. “We welcome the opportunity to cooperate with the university as the fact-finding continues.”
The University of Arkansas, the office of Greek life and the Interfraternity Council take the alleged violations, and the issues they raise, very seriously. In addition to reviewing the facts, a series of actions are being taken in an effort to prevent future incidents.
· Members of the student Interfraternity Council executive board will attend all registered on-campus social events sponsored by member organizations to make sure chapters are following risk management and social guideline policies.
· Executive board members will work with university police and chapter leadership during these events.
· The Interfraternity Council will continue working with the office of Greek life to proactively address responsibility and accountability.
· Greek life staff members have met with all chapter presidents over the past two weeks, to reinforce appropriate behavior and expectations of chapters and their membership. Greek life staff will meet with all chapters over the next few weeks to address the entire membership.
· Greek life is revising its social event registration form. The form will reflect IFC’s requirement that an adviser be present for the duration of each social function, as well as participate in the pre-party meeting with chapter leadership and university police prior to the start of each event. The form will require the name, signature and cell phone contact of the adviser who will attend the event. Greek life will verify the signature and adviser attendance at the social event.
· Greek life will schedule and coordinate sexual-assault prevention and education training with the Sexual Abuse Recovery and Prevention Agency, as has been done in previous years.
The office of Greek life had scheduled several educational programs prior to the allegations, and these will continue and possibly be expanded. A few of these programs are:
· The white ribbon and hot pink ribbon organizations, which work to educate Greek leaders about violence against women and promote a safe campus community, will host several fundraising and educational programs.
· Mike Dilbeck, co-developer of the “Response Ability” program, will discuss how to address inappropriate behavior. At least 80 percent of membership from each Greek chapter is required to attend.
· Greek life and the Panhellenic Council will be hosting a day-long national program, “Something of Value,” a values-based approach that focuses on risk-management education for collegians.
· Participation in National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week.
In addition to these actions, the student Interfraternity Council is taking additional steps to monitor behavior in its member organizations.
The office of Greek life provides resources and programs to promote the growth and development of students affiliated with fraternities and sororities at the University of Arkansas. Its overall mission is to enhance the academic, cultural, moral, leadership and social development of students in Greek-lettered organizations.