In the last month alone, five incidents, three of which appear to be interrelated, were reported to the UC Police Department (UCPD). All of these incidents occurred at fraternity parties. This brings up the question of whether or not Greek life culture is instigating these incidents.
While drugs and alcohol are not directly responsible for crimes being committed, with an increased intake, there is a greater risk for people to lose control and do things they shouldn’t. This is what happened on the evening of Oct. 26, when an alleged rape occurred at the Sigma Pi chapter house.
In a timely warning issued by the UCPD, the UCSB student body was informed that “On October 27, 2019, the UCSB Police Department received a report of a rape inside a bedroom at Sigma Pi, 760 Embarcadero Del Mar Goleta, CA on the evening of October 26, 2019.”
The suspect was described as a 22-year-old white male adult with medium-length brown hair and brown eyes. Upon further research, it was found that a very similar situation had occurred on the night of Oct. 3.
An unnamed fraternity member was expelled from Sigma Pi after the president of the fraternity, Ryan Macke, was informed that this same man allegedly drugged two different girls with date rape drugs that night.
Macke made it publicly known that the house would not tolerate such behavior, and yet there was another sexual assault incident at the same house this weekend. Is this a problem with the party culture at the school or with the specific fraternity culture?
I’d say neither is the case; no amount of alcohol or drug abuse should change a person’s core morals and values, unless they don’t believe that what they’re doing is wrong in the first place. The root cause behind incidents like these is a fundamental misunderstanding of right and wrong.
The school should increase attempts at making students understand the concepts of respect and boundaries, as well as the most important factor: consent.
Seminars regarding sexual assault tend to focus on what to do after it has happened, and the importance of reporting the incident. However, the reasons why rape occurs in the first place are not touched upon; we do not hear much about prevention on the side of the perpetrator.
Furthermore, there is a misguided focus on how one should be safe and conscious in order not to be assaulted. Why do we rarely have workshops that primarily focus on how one should practice respecting boundaries and always be conscious of consent and how comfortable the other person(s) involved are?
Even though the UCPD sent out a timely warning regarding the recent rape report, this does not negate the fact that previous incidents went unpublicized until much later, when they were revealed but vaguely so. Although respecting the privacy of those involved is important, it is more important to inform the students of such occurrences for safety reasons.
The effectiveness of the university’s investigative process, at this time, is questionable as it is does not fully inform or protect the vast majority of students. Delayed reports leave an open timeframe for students to continue going to parties, unaware that they should be extra cautious. They also leave the accused person in an environment where they are capable of committing other sexual assaults.
The university should have been able to act quickly upon such a pressing matter and close the case so that the name of the boy who allegedly raped two girls in one night could have been disclosed to the student body.
The importance of the student body being made aware of incidents that happen among their own peers cannot be stressed enough.