Three Stony Brook University fraternities have been placed on interim suspension after eight Stony Brook students accused eight other students and alumni of sexual assault on social media.
In a series of social media posts on Instagram and Twitter, the victims detailed separate incidents in which the accused sexually assaulted them. Five of the accused were members of the now suspended fraternities Tau Kappa Epsilon, Kappa Sigma and Sigma Beta Rho. The victims also described emotional abuse and manipulative behavior, and some claimed inaction by Stony Brook’s Title IX and Student Engagement and Activities offices.
Eighteen other anonymous stories have been posted on @voicesofsb, an Instagram account run by an anonymous Stony Brook student. The account, which was created in response to the sexual assault accusations, gained 1,877 followers in one week. Students submitted their stories through a Google form or emailed [email protected].
The anonymous account owner was inspired to create voicesofsbu after a friend revealed they had been sexually assaulted on campus.
“My friend found comfort in sharing her story with me,” the account owner, who asked to stay anonymous for privacy concerns, said. “I wanted to help more people feel that same comfort by giving them a safe platform where they could share their story without the fear of being known.”
Two other similar Instagram accounts — @voicesofqhss and @shareyourstorybing — were created on June 27. Both accounts credit voicesofsbu as their inspiration for opening. The accounts share anonymous stories of sexual assault and harassment at Queens High School for Science at York College and Binghamton University, respectively. As of July 9, @shareyourstorybing has shared nearly 400 stories about sexual assault and harassment.
In a June 25 Instagram post, Stony Brook University said it “is committed to the prevention of sexual assault and violence” and encouraged sexual assault victims to report incidents to the Title IX email.
Angry students flooded the comments section. Commenters criticized the school’s post for being “performative” and asked the school to “do better”.
A petition posted Thursday, June 25 titled “Demand Justice for Assault Victims at SBU” has garnered more than 7,500 signatures. Shailee Patel, the creator of the petition and a junior chemistry major, wrote in the petition’s description that Greek life coordinators must be “held accountable, assign the appropriate consequences or put better people in charge of dealing with sexual assault.”
“In terms of Greek life, something has to be done with who’s running it,” Patel, who is an Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority member, said. “The way it’s working right now is definitely not ideal for anyone.”
Patel outlined new measures she’d like to see Stony Brook implement. They included the immediate suspension of an accused member from a frat, making a database of campus offenders public, and the creation of a sexual assault training program required for all Greek life members.
A second petition posted Friday, June 26, titled “Hands off Title IX,” calls for universities to ignore new regulations to the law set to take effect by Aug. 14. The changes bolster the rights of the accused and no longer require investigations for most off-campus incidents. Seventeen states and Washington, D.C. filed a lawsuit June 4 against the new regulations. The state of New York submitted its own lawsuit.
Samantha Thompson, associate director of fraternity & sorority life at Student Engagement and Activities, wrote in an email response to a student that she was aware of the reports and petitions and “the University is actively working on addressing these reports and will work expediently to do so.”
In another email to the same student, Interim Associate Dean of Students Jeffrey Barnett wrote, “Whenever we learn of any alleged violation of these policies by student organizations – whether through a report we receive or through secondary evidence – the matter is reviewed, investigated, and if warranted, adjudicated.”
Stony Brook is involved in three open federal Office for Civil Rights investigations into the handling of sexual assault complaints.
Former graduate student Danielle Sutton filed a new complaint in 2019 in an ongoing legal battle accusing Stony Brook University of denying her 14th Amendment rights. The graduate English education program removed Sutton from her fall 2017 student teaching internship without a hearing or formal notice after she complained about her internship supervisor, according to Sutton’s claim. The complaint argues that this treatment was a violation of Title IX, which forbids discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded activities.
In 2018, former undergraduate student Erin Mosier filed a lawsuit against a history professor for sexual assault in the 2016-2017 school year.
A student filed a third lawsuit in January, accusing the university of inaction after she was raped twice. According to the suit, she reported the assaults to at least eight Stony Brook University employees, including a staff member in the Title IX office.
Stony Brook University did not respond to comment.