SAE self-reporting tool formally deactivated following administrative response
The self-reporting form for survivors of sexual violence created by Sigma Alpha Epsilon was formally deactivated following a meeting with Campus Life Thursday.
The Google form was designed so that those who were sexually harassed or assaulted by a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) could report their experience to a judicial board of SAE members for investigation. In an independent climate survey commissioned by the Women’s Panhellenic Association, 14 percent of respondents said that they experienced at least one instance of unwanted sexual contact from a member of SAE.
Respondents were prompted to provide their name, the name of a trusted contact if they preferred to remain anonymous, the name of the SAE member who sexually assaulted or harassed them, the date and location of the incident and a description of what happened. Respondents were also offered the opportunity for an in-person meeting. All aspects of the survey were optional.
“The Title IX and [University Sexual Assault Investigative Board] process can be incredibly convoluted and may seem perpetual at times, so we offer this form as a way for us to take immediate action instead of waiting months for action to be taken,” a first draft of the form said.
SAE Bystander Intervention Chair and junior Jonah Sacks said that after the meeting, the judicial board realized that they didn’t possess the training to conduct a full investigation into an allegation of sexual assault. Sacks also pointed to any potential additive trauma the survivor might endure after submitting the form.
“After meeting with the administration and talking through the form we realized that in reality, we’re not able to conduct a full investigation on a sexual assault case,” Sacks said. “We don’t have the training, we shouldn’t be putting that responsibility on the survivor, on ourselves or on future generations of people in SAE.”
According to those involved in the form’s creation, it was not meant to replace the use of confidential and non-confidential resources available to students through Washington University.
“Say someone didn’t want to go through the full Title IX process, they didn’t really want to talk to anyone else, they just wanted our specific organization to know what happened. Then they had that option to use that,” Leaders in Interpersonal Violence Education (LIVE) Greek co-chair and SAE member junior Jimmy Abraham said.
Campus Life said that they could not support a reporting tool like this because SAE members on the judicial board members lacked adequate training to conduct an investigation. Sacks believes that a greater cultural shift is necessary to combat the problem of sexual violence in SAE.
“The reason we’re focusing on this cultural shift is that we’re focusing on what’s in our power,” Sacks said. “We felt that we were underprepared to take the proper judicial action and conduct a real investigation, but in terms of changing our culture, that’s something we can do internally within our organization with our own brothers.”
Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Rob Wild said that during the meeting with Campus Life, SAE leaders were receptive to proposing alternative ways to combat sexual violence in the chapter.
“The biggest concern that we talked about is just the trauma it could cause to survivors of sexual assault to have multiple individuals doing an investigation,” Wild said. “We obviously have a lot of trauma-informed and trauma-trained professionals at the University who are trained to do these kinds of investigations, and we had concerns that SAE members would not have that same level of training or trauma-informed training.”
Sacks said that the form was intended to “hold people accountable for their actions” and that the form started a conversation within the fraternity.
“I don’t know if [the Google form] was going to change the culture, but I think it made it clear for everyone that as an executive board, this is something that will not be tolerated,” Sacks said.