Victims speak out at Southwestern University sexual assault forum

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GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — Recent allegations of drink-spiking at a Southwestern University fraternity have sparked passionate conversations across campus. Many students say they don’t feel safe and want the administration to do something about issues of sexual assault on campus.

The university hosted a forum Friday in response to student protests during the week. Media was not allowed into the building, but students say emotions were high throughout the discussion.

“There are people I know terrified of public speaking and they are willing to put everything they have, their images, on the line to say their peace,” said junior Ryan Johnson. “I think that’s how it sums it all up, people are having the courage to say something now.”

“A lot of survivors spoke,” said another student, Chelsea Allen, “which is a testament to how inaccurate numbers are of sexual violence on campus.”

According to the university’s crime data, there was one reported sexual assault on campus from 2011-2013.

“Stuff doesn’t get reported, people are scared to come forward, it’s because the frats do hold a lot of power on this campus whether or not we are willing to admit,” said another student, who was a victim of sexual assault herself.

That woman shared her story with KXAN after the forum. Last spring she was sexually assaulted by a man she knew well. The two had previously dated and broken up, but remained friends. On the night of the assault they were hanging out in her room.

“He made a comment about kissing me goodnight and I didn’t believe him. We were in my room by ourselves. When we were done watching TV, he pushed me in my bunk-bed and shoved his tongue down my throat, and was trying to get his hand down my pants, but I crossed my legs to make sure he wouldn’t be able to do that.”

The woman says she pushed him off and told him “no.”

“He followed me in the bathroom and continued doing what he was doing for about 15 minutes,” she added. “It felt like it was forever and he obviously was not taking no for an answer.”

After some counseling she eventually reported the incident to authorities. She was hesitant to at first because she didn’t have evidence and wasn’t sure it constituted as sexual misconduct. There was eventually a hearing for the incident and the male pleaded guilty.

The woman says the administration was helpful during the hearing process, but not after. Her attacker withdrew from school but she says he still lived on campus for a couple of months. She took her concerns to authorities

“When I brought it up that it made me really uncomfortable that he was here all the time, and that I felt I wasn’t safe because of it, they advised me to take a different route.”

She now wants to help other victims who may be going through the same thing. She and others who are speaking out want to make the reporting process easier for victims.

“Just the fact that I can no longer count on my hands the number of women that I know, by name, who have had either sexual assault or rape happen to them on this campus, by a student. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

She believes the administration wants to do better. She and other students are meeting next week with administrators, faculty and staff to discuss policy changes.

The drink-spiking allegations were made against the fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha, also known as Pike.

“Make no mistake: every Pike understands how serious these accusations are,” Ryan Fees, the chapter president, wrote a letter in the student newspaper. “Since they were made, the chapter has been fully cooperating with both the administration and SUPD to properly investigate these claims….We do not drug drinks, and we do not rape women. It goes against everything we stand for as a chapter and as human beings.”

Members of the fraternity participated in Friday’s forum, according to the letter.

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