After a series of suspensions over allegations of drugging and sexual assault, fraternities at the University of Southern California can start hosting parties again in March — if they hire security guards to keep people out of bedrooms.
The new, unprecedented policy was announced this week after protests and calls to reform or abolish Greek life on campus last fall prompted the Interfraternity Council to halt all fraternity house events. In October, USC's Sigma Nu chapter was suspended after six students said they were drugged at a party and one student said they were sexually assaulted. Three additional fraternities were placed on interim suspensions and another on a "modified suspension" while it underwent an investigation by the university's Office for Equity, Equal Opportunity and Title IX.
Last week, just before in-person classes were expected to resume and Greek organizations were expected to start recruiting new members, the university notified them what requirements they will have to meet in order to resume social events in the spring. A working group of fraternity members, student government, faculty, and safety officials drafted the new guidelines during the winter break, according to a statement from USC Provost Charles F. Zukoski.
"About 4,000 of our students participate in fraternity and sorority life at USC, and many say that this is a central part of their USC experience," Zukoski wrote in a letter to students. "Developing and strengthening this partnership will be critical to our long term success in meeting our goals."
Fraternities and sororities were already required to hire security guards at the doors of their parties, but the new guidelines will also require them to hire security "at stairs or hallways leading to bedrooms."
The security will have to be reviewed by the university.
All fraternity members will also be required to complete prevention workshops, and if any member doesn't participate, they won't be allowed to host parties at all.
The four chapters that remain under suspension will still not be allowed to host parties or recruit until the investigation into the allegations is complete, Zukoski wrote in the letter.
In October 2021, USC President Carol Folt acknowledged that the university had acted with "troubling delay" after it had received multiple confidential reports about students allegedly being drugged and one sexually assaulted at a fraternity, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The school did not share the information broadly until a month after the allegations were made, when a report of a sexual assault at the Sigma Nu fraternity house was posted by the Department of Public Safety.
"Our community must work together to end sexual assault on our campuses," Zukoski wrote. "We appreciate everyone who brings forward concerns and reports sexual assault and issues impacting safety and well-being, and we understand how difficult this can be."