As a new semester begins for college students across the country, sexually suggestive banners hung outside a fraternity house at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia have turned the spotlight on the subject of sexual harassment on college campuses and the policies in place to prevent and address this issue.
Students returning to the ODU campus last week may have encountered phrases such as “Rowdy and Fun. Hope your baby girl is ready for a good time” and “Freshman daughter drop off” spray painted on bed sheets hanging from the balcony of a private home occupied by the Sigma Nu fraternity.
The incident, which quickly gained national attention and was reported on by myriad media outlets including CNN and USA Today, was met with scrutiny regarding the school’s sexual harassment policy.
Shortly after news of the banners broke, ODU responded publicly by condemning the actions of the individuals involved with hanging the homemade signs, and Sigma Nu’s national organization suspended their ODU chapter while the incident is being investigated, according to CNN.
While ODU has been the recent focus regarding sexual harassment policy on college campuses, this type of incident is not new to universities, and most institutions, including ODU and SUNY Plattsburgh, have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment.
In order to address any new potential flaws, PSUC’s Sexual Violence Policy frequently undergoes review and revision.
Major revisions were made and approved by PSUC’s Executive Council on Aug.11, and other minor revisions were approved Sept. 2. The college’s policy is public, and can be viewed on the school’s website in its entirety.
PSUC Greek organizations also have policies in place to prevent and respond to potential sexual harassment incidents and despite stereotypes that often plague Greek life. Organizations at PSUC like Phi Mu Delta condemn Sigma Nu’s actions.
“Greek life as a whole has come under fire because of organizations like [Sigma Nu],” said PSUC senior and Phi Mu Delta member Robert Greenspan said.
While ODU has stated an investigation is being conducted by the college and the Sigma Nu’s national chapter, some feel the response has not been harsh enough.
“We would have been kicked off campus immediately,” Greenspan said. “No questions asked.”
In addition to portraying Greek organizations in a negative light, other students believe the fraternity has hurt ODU’s reputation as well.
“When people think of ODU, they will think of [Sigma Nu] and the message they sent by hanging those banners,” PSUC sophomore and Theta Phi Alpha member Amanda Cuomo said.
“Greek life on college campuses attracts students,” Greenspan said, “and this is a red flag for parents.”
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