Protestors gather outside the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house. Photo by Sam Stroozas.

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Northwestern University Police alerted students via email to a crime notice on campus: individuals reported they were drugged Friday night at Alpha Epsilon Pi, a fraternity on campus. And on Saturday, multiple individuals also reported being drugged at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house.

Although neither fraternity was named by Northwestern, the addresses of the houses where the incidents occurred were provided.

This isn’t the first time that people at Sigma Alpha Epsilon have been accused of drugging students.

In 2017, four women alleged they were given a date rape drug at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house. Two of the students said they were then sexually assaulted after being drugged. Sigma Alpha Epsilon was suspended in April 2017 and returned from probation in 2018 after a one-year suspension. No other disciplinary action was taken.

Johnny Sao, manager of communications and public relations at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon national chapter, also based in Evanston, issued a statement to the RoundTable about the alleged druggings: “These allegations do not represent the Fraternity’s values as defined by our creed, The True Gentlemen. Our priority is the safety and well-being of our members, guests, and their respective communities. The Fraternity Service Center is working with our members and alumni volunteers and has attempted to engaged university officials regarding the allegations.”

Later, the SAE national chapter sent follow-up comments: “The Fraternity Service Center has issued a cease-and-desist on its chapter at Northwestern University to continue reviewing recent allegations against the chapter and learn more about the claims. This order temporarily restricts chapter activities, including social, philanthropic, service, initiation, and recruitment events.”

The Alpha Epsilon Pi national chapter and Northwestern Interfraternity Council had not responded to requests for comment by the time this story was posted.

In response to the allegations, which are under investigation, Northwestern has announced a prohibition of social events and chapter-sponsored recruitment events for members of the Interfraternity Council until at least Oct. 17, but many students do not feel like that is enough.

The reported druggings led Abolish Greek Life, a movement at Northwestern working to dismantle all fraternities and sororities on campus, to hold a protest at 7 p.m. Sunday in front of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter house. The demonstration later moved to the Alpha Epsilon Pi house.

A crowd, which the campus newspaper estimated at 2,000 students, gathered, with demonstrators wearing all black and chanting, “Out of the frats and into the streets,” “How many more” and “Y’all got to lose your house.” There was high security during the protest, with multiple police cars.

At Sigma Alpha Epsilon, a few windows of the fraternity house went dark, shutting off lights. After chanting began, lights flickered back on with some people inside the house yelling back, “We are trying to watch television” in response to protesters.

Protesters began to move north up Sheridan Road and then turned right on Lincoln Avenue, making their way to Alpha Epsilon Pi.

Signs readings, “Abolish Greek Life,” “IFC enables rapists” and “My Cup is Not Consent,” were held up as the crowd faced Alpha Epsilon Pi.

First-year student Janae Hill and fourth-year Xavier Zamora attended to show their support of the movement.

Hill saw the email about the reported druggings and as a first-year student, she wanted to learn what she could do.  

“It’s nice to see that there’s a community that will speak out against injustices and come together,” she said. “Supporting survivors is really important to me.”

Zamora said he came as an ally, and because of a conversation he had with one of his friends.

“You have to be here, it’s a big issue,” Zamora said. “I was talking to my friends last night and one of them made a good point, if you’re coming to first party ever on campus and that happens to you – that’s so bad.”

Zamora’s niece also just started college. He said he is “terrified for her” and what she could possibly endure as a young woman. He would like to see Greek life at Northwestern ended.

“I would say reform is the option, but it has been going on for years. It’s a lost cause; we do not need them,” he said. “I remember being a freshman and hearing about Sigma Alpha Epsilon in 2017 and it’s just heartbreaking. We were on campus for less than a week and it happened again.”

 

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  1. Abolishing Greek life on campus will not serve the purpose intended. Fraternities have satellite houses in my neighborhood, where they aren’t monitored. They are the people who host huge outdoor parties and students willingly attend them.