Update from VP for Student Affairs on sexual assault investigation
Following is a message that was sent to the Northwestern community earlier today from Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin.
Northwestern University issued an alert to the campus community in February stating the University received reports that four female students attending an event at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house were possibly given a date-rape drug, and two of these students believed they were sexually assaulted. Northwestern issued the alert to the campus community because the University received reports containing similar allegations of the use of date-rape drugs and sexual assault. Such warnings are required under a federal law known as the Clery Act, but more important, Northwestern took the action of sending the alert because there was reason to believe that members of our community might be at risk of harm.
Using established procedures, the Sexual Harassment Prevention Office (SHPO) investigated the reports in a prompt and thorough manner. SHPO and Student Affairs engaged in extensive outreach to members of the Northwestern community, asking persons with knowledge of the events or related actions to come forward in order to gather additional information. The University also offered allstudents support and resources, including information on how to contact local police.
After gathering and assessing all additional information and carefully considering the wishes of those who spoke with SHPO staff, and the applicable Title IX guidance, the University has concluded its review related to the alleged sexual misconduct. No disciplinary action or further investigative action related to the reports of sexual misconduct will be taken at this time. As is always the case, the SHPO will review any new information that is presented and respond accordingly. In addition, the University continues to investigate other potential violations of the Student Code of Conduct by the SAE chapter not related to sexual misconduct that were learned in the inquiry into these reports.
The alert also referenced a second report of the possible drugging and sexual assault of a student at another fraternity event on February 2, 2017. After assessing all information and carefully considering the wishes of the person who spoke with SHPO staff, and the applicable Title IX guidance, the University has concluded its review related to the alleged sexual misconduct. No disciplinary action or further investigative action will be taken at this time.
As a result of these reports, the SHPO will provide additional outreach and training to fraternities and sororities on preventing sexual assault in the coming months. In addition, the SHPO will add a new staff member to assist in Title IX outreach and education efforts. Northwestern also provides information and resources to students, faculty and staff on the Sexual Misconduct website.
We recognize this has been a difficult time for our community. As a University we recommit ourselves to education and outreach to increase awareness of these issues, as well as confidence and participation in the reporting and investigation processes. The University strives to create a campus that is safe and secure for its faculty, staff and students. We also believe in providing a fair process, consideration for those involved, and a learning environment free of any type of harassment.
Vice President for Student Affairs