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Three Stony Brook fraternities suspended after reports of sexual assault and hazing, university says

The fraternities were suspended late last month.

The fraternities were suspended late last month. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Three fraternities at Stony Brook University named in reports of sexual assault and hazing have been suspended, the university said in a statement.

Kappa Sigma, Sigma Beta Rho and Tau Kappa Epsilon were suspended late last month after reports of Title IX violations and hazing were filed with the university's Department of Student Engagement and Activities, which oversees fraternities and sororities.

“This is consistent with our process, as sexual assault and hazing have no place on college campuses or in our society,” the university stated regarding the suspension.

The Office of Equity and Access, which handles Title IX matters, and the Office of Community Standards, which handles student code of conduct violations, are investigating the allegations, according to the statement.

Two of the fraternities' national chapters responded Friday. 

“Tau Kappa Epsilon and the… [Stony Brook] chapter is fully cooperating with the university on their investigation,” said Alex Baker, chief information officer for the national chapter, in an email. “TKE strongly condemns sexual assault and will hold any responsible members accountable for their actions.”

“Sigma Beta Rho is not currently aware of any Title IX investigation involving Sigma Beta Rho Fraternity at Stony Brook University,” read an email on Friday from that fraternity’s national executive board. “We are currently cooperating with Stony Brook University’s investigation into our new member practices.”

Representatives for Kappa Sigma could not be immediately reached on Friday.

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination and harassment in educational institutions that receive federal funding. The law requires schools to respond to hostile educational environments.

The suspension of the three fraternities came after an Instagram account, @voicesofsb, was created to share stories of sexual assault from students at Stony Brook University.

The account aims to “give sexual assault survivors an anonymous platform to let their voices be heard,” according to a post on June 23. The account shares stories that survivors from Stony Brook University can anonymously submit through a Google form.

The federal education department released in May new regulations governing campus assault that allows colleges to use either a "preponderance of the evidence" standard, meaning there is a greater than 50% chance that the claim is true, or a "clear and convincing" standard, which sets a higher burden of proof. Under the Obama administration, colleges were required to use the "preponderance of the evidence" in Title IX hearings, which critics argued was unfair to accused students.

The new regulations are effective starting Aug. 14, but college and university leaders across the country have requested a delay of the start date in light of efforts to reopen campuses. 

"Implementation of these regulations will require a wholescale redesign of campus disciplinary processes ... diverting time and resources away from the reopening efforts," read a letter from the American Council on Education to the U.S. Department of Education on June 10. 

Stony Brook University students can file a Title IX complaint with Marjolie Leonard, the Title IX coordinator, at titleix@stonybrook.edu. If a student wishes to discuss their options with a confidential resource, they can contact Samantha August, the survivor advocate and prevention specialist, at 631-457-9981.

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