Leaders from USC’s Women’s Student Assembly, MenCare and Take Back the Night will attend a discussion tonight on the issues of sexual violence and misogyny raised by the viral Kappa Sigma email, which has continued generating controversy.
The email, which has circulated around the university, asks members of Kappa Sigma to detail their sexual exploits to members of the fraternity. It also contains a glossary of terms to describe males, females and their body parts, categorizes women by their ethnicity and nationality and provides a rating system of female attractiveness for the fraternity members.
Corey Arterian, a senior majoring in English and one of the discussion’s organizers, said she hopes the meeting will create an open dialogue of the cultural perceptions of men and women addressed in the email.
“Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that this is not just one incident,” Arterian said. “It’s not that one guy, it’s not that one fraternity, it’s not fraternity row, it’s everywhere. This email indicates a larger problem on campus that the university really can’t ignore.”
Arterian and other undergraduate students have been in contact with eight graduate students who wrote a petition that was sent to President C. L. Max Nikias on Friday.
The petition asks for a more public and transparent investigation of the viral email and an open dialogue concerning the issues of sexual violence and misogyny. It has more than 120 graduate and faculty signatures, according to Alex Young, a graduate student studying English and an author of the petition.
The controversy surrounding the email grew when Jezebel, a blog geared toward women, posted an article March 10 claiming Kappa Sigma Nationals and IFC hid the truth of how the email originated and was leaked to the student body. The post includes a female student’s account of how her roommate edited the email and was approached by Mitchell Wilson, executive director of Kappa Sigma Fraternity, and others to not talk to the Daily Trojan.
“I have not been to USC,” Wilson said. “I have not spoken with any person who claims to have been involved in the editing of this.”
Pat Lauer, president of IFC, said he encourages this woman to come forward to the university if she has evidence about the email.
Wilson said the Kappa Sigma nationals investigation has not concluded, and the investigation will not be finished until they are fully satisfied with the information. He noted the creator of the original email has not yet been determined.
Michael L. Jackson, vice president of student affairs, sent an email to the USC community Friday regarding the Kappa Sigma email and the investigation.
Jackson wrote that the university learned through its investigation that a USC student did not create the email, and a friend at a university on the East Coast forwarded it to the student who sent it to the USC Kappa Sigma listserv. The email was originally sent to the members of Kappa Sigma in November.
Still, some students are not satisfied.
“We have no basis for believing there is a cover-up, but the investigation would have been a lot more transparent and credible had it been clear that the administration rather than [the USC Interfraternity council] and Kappa Sigma nationals carried it out,” Young said.
Young said it was encouraging to receive a response from the university, but he believes discussion needs to continue about the issues raised by the email.
Ray Carlos, assistant director of the Office for Fraternity and Sorority Leadership, said it’s the administration’s responsibility to facilitate this dialogue about gender and sex.
“If the students are outraged, then they will put together programs,” Carlos said.
Samantha Carrick, a Ph.D. student studying English visual studies and one of the authors of the petition, said she felt the need to a take a public stand about what is and isn’t considered productive conversations about gender and sex.
“The most important thing for all of us is to force the community to begin a dialogue about this kind of rhetoric,” Carrick said. “The comments on the Daily Trojan article seemed like if you are upset with this, then you are wrong, and I was very shocked by that.”
Jackson said USC Student Affairs’ MenCare program, which began in 2005, will be “[used] to address this situation.”
Todd Henneman, adviser to MenCare and assistant director for the Center for Women & Men, said IFC will introduce a liaison who will attend the MenCare meetings to help identify new ways to get the Greek community involved. MenCare also plans to reach out to all males on campus by encouraging them to attend Take Back the Night, an event that aims to spread awareness about sexual violence.
Emilia Ana Cosma, the executive director of Women’s Student Assembly, said she plans to meet with IFC in the upcoming weeks to discuss how the groups can work together on combating the issues raised by the email. She said she hopes IFC will start a Greeks against Sexual Assault group that is present on other campuses, including UCLA.
Lisa Locafcio, a Ph.D. student studying English literature and creative writing and an author of the petition, said she feels the petition is not radical in any way.
“I think the appropriate response from the university would be to welcome this dialogue and address community concerns,” Locafcio said.
The meeting to discuss the issues raised in the viral email will be held tonight at 8 p.m. in Taper Hall room 113.