USG addresses sexual assault on the Row

Photo of a computer with USG meeting. Slide states USG's "Our Demands" regarding Sigma Nu and Frat Row protests.
The Undergraduate Student Government will release a full statement and details of its demands regarding recent reports of sexual assault on the Row in an email Wednesday. (Honour Fottrell | Daily Trojan)

Content warning: This article contains references to sexual assault, drugging and violence.

The Undergraduate Student Government discussed their demands following the Sigma Nu sexual assault incidents and plans to improve the Office of Student Accessibility Services in the senate meeting Tuesday. 

Vice president Lucy Warren and chief of staff Max Gomez presented an initial list of demands for USC following multiple days of protests after seven reported instances of sexual assault and drugging at the Sigma Nu Fraternity house.

Demands included removing the members and Interfraternity Council chapters involved in incidents of sexual assault and drugging, implementing reforms and University oversight for Greek life spaces, providing drug testing strips to students and overhauling the systems available for students to report sexual assaults and crimes. 

“It’s very heartening to see students turning out to support survivors in this moment, and USG has been trying to coordinate a response with a lot of different partners on campus and student organizations and advocacy groups,” Gomez said. 

Overhauls to student reporting would involve creating a centralized form available through student organizations and University platforms, Warren said.

In an interview with the Daily Trojan, Warren said one of the elements of the reform is to assign mandated reporters within student organizations.

“There are campus leaders who are not paid workers, such as [resident assistants], that are mandated reporters, and they go through the proper training on what [the] mechanisms are to report and how to teach other students to utilize those,” Warren said. “We would love to see that happen even on the executive boards of IFC, [the Panhellenic Council], other Greek organizations.”

According to Warren, the testing strip program, in collaboration with Trojan Awareness Combating Overdose, would also mandate tests that can detect roofies at registered social events and provide training on utilizing them.

“Ideally, we would partner with TACO to make their training program as accessible as possible to students,” Warren said. “We’re hoping to bring awareness to their training across campus as well.”

Speaker of the senate Ruben Romeo next presented a project to improve OSAS through additional resources and expanded student literacy of the services available.  

The advocacy project calls for the University to increase funding and support for the office, said Romeo in an interview with the Daily Trojan.

“I noticed with the OSAS office that they seem to be particularly under budgeted and understaffed,” Romeo said. “I think OSAS is spread sparsely thin.” 

The project also seeks to raise awareness of the office’s services, particularly by embedding relevant information in freshman orientation programs. 

“I don’t think even students know that you can go to OSAS for mental health conditions as well,” Romeo said. “Students I’ve heard around me have gone through their semester just pushing through their mental health, when they’re actively seeing clinicians, for example, with real conditions that they could get accommodated for.”

During the meeting’s brief discussion period, senator Hunter Hinson detailed a report that revealed nearly one in three women undergraduates said they were assaulted on campus, a number which has doubled since the report’s initial survey in 2015. According to data gathered by the Association of American Universities in 2019, USC’s reported numbers are higher than the national average.  

“That’s very shocking considering 2015 was the last time that there were a lot of big calls for reform to Greek life due to issues with sexual assault,” Hinson said. “I recommend people to read more from that report regarding that situation.” 

The Undergraduate Student Government will release full details of its demands in an email Wednesday.