Northeastern Students on Campus Safety, Sexual Assault and the Culture of Greek Life

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Last week, undergraduates from Northeastern University’s School of Journalism spoke to about 50 of their peers on campus, discussing campus safety, sexual assault and the culture of the Greek life. The term “culture of Greek life” refers to all the fraternities and sororities and their respective reputations, activities and behaviors.

Since the start of the semester, the Boston Police Department has answered many calls reporting public drunkenness, underage drinking, and excessive party noise attended by hundreds of college students in Mission Hill, the Boston area home to many Northeastern fraternity and sorority homes.

Some students said they had no connection with Greek life and saw themselves as uninvolved. But, a few had strong opinions about the university’s response to incidents in the neighborhood.

“The stuff on the Hill is super scary,” said third-year student Matt Southard.

Madeleine Estabrook, Senior Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, emailed all Northeastern students on September 16 in response to activities at Mission Hill, including large groups of students blocking residential streets and traffic in outside private property, conduct disturbances and noise complaints. Estabrook cited the student code of conduct and said, “Northeastern believes its responsibility to be a good neighbor is paramount. ”

When third-year student Lucas O’Reilly was asked about these issues at Mission Hill, he expressed concerns about the university’s ability to apply disciplinary or punitive action after an incident. He said, “I don’t think the school does a good job after the fact… There is no good follow-up.

Sophia Teplitskiy, a first year student, said: “I really think that even if they run things the best they can and try to give us the freedoms that we should have as students, they also have to. keep in mind that they have to keep us safe. Teplitskiy added, “My first week here, EMS showed up to a freshman dorm every day, at least once.”

Some students criticized the university’s response to the sexual assault allegations and expressed their desire for a more direct approach to dealing with the problem. Allison Gray, a sophomore student, thinks the university should hold the abusers accountable in the same way they handled the case of the NUin students who violated the school’s COVID-19 protocols last fall. The university suspended the students involved and refused reimbursement of their tuition fees for the semester. “Take it more seriously and tackle it. Send a clear message, ”Gray said.

Erin Williams, a third-year student, agrees. “The school should take more responsibility for some of the things that are going on,” Williams said. “These are your students.”

Other interviewees shared their own stories of sexual abuse. “I was also sexually assaulted by boys in the fraternity. I don’t think there are any consequences, ”said fifth-year student Maya Wolcott. “I don’t know any girl who doesn’t have a story.”

While many students have expressed concern about how the culture of Greek life perpetuates predatory behaviors, not all students share the same negative experiences, and some support the university’s efforts to make the campus a Boston a safe place to live, work and study.

“I feel safe on campus,” said third-year student Anjali Dhawan. “As a member of Greek life, I have heard about a lot of things going on, but I never really felt unsafe at a party.”

Maya Osman, a third-year student and sisterhood member, believes the resources Northeastern has to support survivors of sexual assault. “I think Northeastern has a great support system. I’ve never been to them personally, but I know they do a great job and care about the well-being of their students, ”said Osman..

Quay Dragon, a sophomore graduate student, also believes Northeastern has many support resources for survivors of sexual assault. “I have been sexually assaulted by another Northeastern student before. I’ve actually had a discussion with the legal team here about what we can do, and I think they have a ton of resources at their disposal, ”said Dragon. “But I would say socially, it’s extremely difficult.”

Dragon is the founder of Sexual Violence Connector (SVC), a non-profit organization focused on empowering survivors of sexual violence by providing a forum where survivors can submit their stories and connect with other victims. SVC is not the only safe virtual space for survivors of sexual assault. Northeast Speak out is an Instagram page that was created in August 2020 for student survivors of sexual assault to share their stories anonymously. The account, which is not affiliated with the university, features anecdotes of abuse by members of the fraternity.

While the university has approached these issues with words, the actions it takes next are more important.

Nae Odarteifio, a fourth year student, said: “With the email I felt like it was like ‘Okay we have to say something about this, we are just going to say this . ‘ But do they care? Are they really taking other steps to make sure this doesn’t become a bigger problem? No.”

Northeastern University media relations were emailed on October 18 and responded by sharing NUPD security 2021 report for the Boston campus, suggest that around 50 students is too small a sample size to represent a college community of over 20,000.

Northeastern University students who contribute to the reports include: Peyton Doyle, Erin Fine, Priscilla Fuenmayor Pineda, Rebecca Magno, Delaney Murray, Jessica Silverman, Aiden Stein, Sydney Steinberg, Gray Timberlake and Karleigh Corliss.



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