The Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity at the University of Vermont has been suspended after circulating a survey that asked fraternity members who, if given the chance, they would want to rape.
The specific question from the survey was: “If you could rape someone, who would it be?”
Members of the fraternity have not commented since the suspension. University officials are also looking into whether or not the matter rises to the level of criminal activity.
The national chapter of the fraternity released the following statement. “The national Fraternity is aware of a situation at the University of Vermont Chapter related to a document that included several inappropriate questions,” the organization stated in a one-paragraph release on its website. “The Fraternity has instructed the chapter to cease all operations, pending further investigation. Sigma Phi Epsilon and its leadership programs are built on the concept of respect for both self and others. Any behavior that demeans women is not tolerated by the Fraternity. National Fraternity representatives, volunteers and university officials are investigating this situation and will take appropriate action to uphold the Fraternity’s values.”
The rape survey marks the second time the fraternity has gotten in trouble for sexist behavior. In 1993 the fraternity’s national office revoked the UVM chapter’s charter after a hazing lawsuit showed videos of pledges being asked to tell a story, a racist joke, and what they would do with a stripper they had seen the night before.
It’s hard to brush this kind of thing off by claiming it’s a joke or the usual “harmless” antics of fraternity life. Members were specifically asked to contemplate committing a sexual assault and to identify their preferred victim. What place does this kind of community have in higher education, exactly?
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