Fraternity starts sexual assault conversation

Kellie Galentine
Online Editor

Sexual assault became a conversation among students at Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s “Project Title IX: Where the Odds Become Even,” April 9 in the Campus Center Ballroom.

More than 70 students, faculty and staff members filled the room and listened to a panel discussion hosted by the fraternity, which is known nationwide by the nickname “SAE: Sexual Assault Expected.”

“All it takes is one person or a few people to blanket an entire organization across the nation,” Christopher Braun­stein, SAE’s chapter adviser and University of La Verne alumnus, said as he began the program.

Slides appeared on the big screen showing headlines about fraternities across the nation, which have been put into the spotlight for campus sexual assault including “Campus Warned to Avoid SAE,” from Loyola Marymount University and the “No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal,” case involving the Phi Delta Theta fraternity chapter at Texas Tech University last year.

“We see these problems, but what we need to be talking about is the solutions,” Braunstein said.

Panelists who discussed sexual assault from different perspectives included Dean of Student Affairs and Title IX Coordin­ator Loretta Rahmani, Assistant Director of Operations for Residential Life at Whittier College Feli Tamparong, Resident Director of Brandt Hall Alan Weinreb and Project Sister Outreach Specialist Christina Jimenez.

Rahmani presented information about sexual assault on college campuses including statistics about sexual assaults reported at ULV in 2014-2015. Five instances of dating violence, seven sexual harassment cases, one sexual exploitation, eight sexual assault cases and two instances of stalking have been reported so far this year, according to Rahmani.

Rahmani also showed national statistics, which stated that 78 percent of sexual assaults involve alcohol and one in three sexual assaults occur when the victim is drunk or passed out.

“One of the reasons why we have lower numbers is because we are a dry campus,” Rahmani said.

Tamparong and Weinreb both presented different versions of the investigation process, Weinreb’s from the law enforcement side and Tamparong’s from the university standpoint.

The main difference between the various investigations is that universities investigate using a preponderance of evidence, while law enforcement requires the burden of proof, the panel explained.

Preponderance of evidence means it is “more likely than not,” that the incident took place, while the burden of proof means “beyond a shadow of a doubt,” the incident occurred.

“In law enforcement there needs to be solid evidence for a criminal to be convicted of a crime,” Weinreb said.

Jimenez humanized sexual assault by reading an account of one of the Project Sister clients who had experienced rape.

“A lot of survivors feel like it is their fault,” Jimenez said. “But the truth is it’s never their fault.”

Jimenez went on to explain her passion for turning rape culture into consent culture.

“Affirmative consent is unfortunately only on college campuses, but I think it should be nationwide,” she said.

Morgan Lester, junior criminology major and SAE’s health and safety risk management officer, organized the event after more than a year of brainstorming and delivered a speech to the audience about the importance of starting the conversation about sexual assault at ULV.

“It would hurt me deeply, it really would, to see anybody hurt by sexual assault or domestic violence,” Lester said.

Following the panel, the audience was invited to ask questions or weigh in on the topic.

“I would encourage you all as leaders to have this conversation and to be careful of the words you choose,” Wendy Lau, board of trustees member, said.

Kellie Galentine can be contacted at kellie.galentine@laverne.edu.

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