Content Warning: This story mentions reports of sexual assault.
President Carol Folt sent out an email to the USC community on Oct. 29 regarding the recent sexual allegations made against USC fraternity Sigma Nu. The email describes the presence of sexual assault at the university while providing proper resources for students they aim to improve upon.
This follows another email that provided more information concerning instances of sexual assaults reported between the months of September and October this fall semester. While the first spoke of these potential allegations, Folt stated that USC is now fully cooperating with the Los Angeles Police Department in their investigation.
On Oct. 20, the university sent out a crime alert to all students, staff and faculty sharing alleged drugging and sexual assault at Sigma Nu. One member was accused of sexual assault, and five to seven other students reported experiencing sexual assault and drugging at a Sigma Nu party.
The Sigma Nu member accused was suspended by both the university and Sigma Nu, according to statements by both organizations. An LAPD investigation of these reports named Ryan Schiffilea, the president of Sigma Nu, as a suspect in the alleged sexual assault.
In the email, Folt expressed “anger” towards sexual violence and “compassion” for the survivors. She further acknowledged sexual assault as a troubling issue across college campuses, including USC, that requires addressing.
In addition, Folt provided students with resources such as Relationship & Sexual Violence Prevention Servies (RSVP), which offers “confidential counseling and advocacy,” but can still report information without client permission in unusual circumstances she did not elaborate on.
An FAQ sheet attached to the email provided an explanation of the events that led up to the Oct. 20 timely warning in more thorough detail than was previously shared with the community. The response emphasized that the university-wide email regarding sexual assault and drugging at Sigma Nu addressed two separate sets of incidents and reports.
On Oct. 16, a student reported that she had been assaulted by an individual in Sigma Nu. Both the LAPD and DPS responded immediately.
Between Sept. 25 and 30, RSVP received confidential reports that between five and seven students experienced sexual assault and drugging at a Sigma Nu party. RSVP shared broad details about this report on Sept. 30, and a meeting was scheduled for Oct. 18 to determine how best to proceed.
Folt admitted the university’s failure to inform the community in a timely manner, calling it a “troubling delay.” She claims she is now aware of the “gray area” deemed necessary in balancing the confidentiality of information with the need to inform and warn the community.
The FAQ also outlined support for students, beginning with academic leniency granted this semester in light of campus turmoil. The university extended both the withdrawal and pass/no pass grading option deadline to Dec. 3, along with other changes.
The university also outlined measures students can take to report instances of sexual violence and receive support.
Folt concluded her email by reminding the community of her promise to identify the university’s shortcomings and mending them with proper solutions.
“Keeping you informed is also my promise to you,” she wrote.
Students have the option to report to USC’s Office for Equity, Equal Opportunity, and Title IX at email@example.com or by calling (213) 740-5086. A non-criminal investigation will be conducted, and consequences will be administered by the university only. Students can also report to DPS or LAPD, in which case the incident could be addressed in court.
For confidential reporting and counseling services like RSVP, university resources can be found here.