Important Campus Updates: Oct. 11, 2021

Fraternity review update

Last month, I shared with you that the University had launched an investigation into two fraternity chapters. I want to provide an update on the status of that ongoing review.

Rather than participate in the University’s review of its policies and practices, and adhere to required protocols for affiliation with EMU, the local Alpha Sigma Phi (ASP) chapter informed EMU last week of its decision to disassociate from the University. Therefore, the fraternity is no longer a recognized EMU student organization.

While we remain deeply concerned about their activities, ASP's decision to disassociate eliminates the University's ability to provide oversight and to directly intervene in its operations because ASP is no longer affiliated with the University.

It is clear from the fraternity's actions and decisions that the leadership of ASP and its members no longer elect to abide by University standards and guidelines for student groups. People who are concerned about ASP's operations should contact the national headquarters of Alpha Sigma Phi to voice those concerns or, if they observe illegal activity, contact 911.

ASP's decision to disassociate from the University also removes for ASP the many benefits that registered student organizations receive. For example, as a disassociated organization, ASP is: 

  • No longer permitted to use the name, logo, or any other trademark of EMU or fraternity & sorority life, nor obtain any organization support from the University including its student recruitment activities (i.e., “rush” events), nor may it use free office space, meeting rooms, auditoriums, or other University spaces; and
  • No longer eligible for University funding, and may not participate in student organization fairs, workshops, training sessions, or on campus fundraisers; and may not use EMU promotional resources.

The other fraternity named in the University’s review, Delta Tau Delta, has complied  with and participated in the review process to date. We are moving forward vigorously  and hope to have additional information to share on the status of the review in the next few weeks. We must follow University processes and procedures in completing this review, which may take a little longer than people wish. But it is our utmost priority, as well as my pledge to the campus community, to complete this review and report back on the outcome and determinations.

EMU’s commitment to addressing sex-based discrimination and sexual misconduct 

Earlier this semester, I reiterated the University’s commitment to stopping sexual assault and relationship violence on our campus and ensuring that students and employees are aware of their rights to be free from sexual assault and harassment. In that message, I also outlined a series of actions underway to promote those goals and ensure the University’s compliance with the Title IX requirements. I am pleased to provide updates below on a few of these important initiatives.

Mandatory student training

Last week, all students received a link to complete a mandatory online training. This training program covers several important topics, including:

- The rights and protections of students under Title IX,

- Prohibited conduct under the University's Title IX Policy,

- The role of bystander intervention in responding to incidents, and

- Other practical guidance for preventing harassment and sex-based discrimination, and working towards our collective learning at EMU that promotes mutual respect and consent.

All students are required to complete this training before they will be permitted to register for winter semester courses (registration for winter semester begins November 9, 2021).

This training is an important component of the University’s larger initiative to prevent sexual assault and relationship violence, and will therefore be required every year for all students.

Support services and resource materials

A new Survivors Handbook for students is near completion. It includes information about how to work with the Title IX Office and how to support survivors of sexual assault. It will be distributed to students when completed.

A new EMU Faculty/Staff Title IX Resource Guide has been developed to help our University community be better prepared to provide support services to students who are survivors of sexual assault, including how to file a Title IX report and advice for peer communication with survivors. The Resource Guide will be  printed in the next two weeks and distributed to all faculty and staff.

Both the printed Survivors Handbook and the Faculty/Staff Title IX Resource Guide will have digital versions that will be shared as well.

Next steps

We are approaching these efforts as a continuation and expansion of the practices we currently have in place and underway. We do not consider this a one-time process, but an ongoing initiative that will include collaboration with students and other important stakeholders along the way. This fall semester, we will begin to incorporate data from the recently completed “Final Report on the EMU Campus Survey on Sexual Misconduct Culture” into our strategic planning efforts particularly with respect to increasing students’ sense of safety, security, inclusiveness, and belonging. We look forward to engaging on next steps with the Faculty Senate and the committee that authored this important report.

To achieve true success, support among all areas of our campus to address these important matters is critical. We thank and appreciate all of you who continue to contribute ideas and suggestions.

James Smith, Ph.D.