SALT LAKE CITY — In a letter sent out to all University of Utah students this week, fraternity and sorority leaders addressed alleged sexual assaults that happened in Greek houses, said they stood by survivors and pledged to improve education for their members.
“Nobody wants any part to do with sexual assault on the row," said Zach Moresco, a member of Sigma Chi. "We will not stand for that.”
The University of Utah had suspended fraternity and sorority activities for two weeks in February after two reports of sexual assault allegedly occurred at fraternity houses.
Moresco said those two weeks of suspension were frightening and created a time of reflection.
“Greek row, we kind of pride ourselves for kind of joining organizations that preach upon values," he said. "And we'd be hypocrites if we weren't standing up for those values... and attacking anywhere we see wrong on campus.”
A number of schools across the country are considering abolishing, or have abolished, Greek life. But the U of U doesn’t want to pull the plug on fraternities and sororities just yet, said university spokeswoman Rebecca Walsh.
“They do serve a historic function here at the University of Utah," she said. "They've been here for more than 100 years, and we would like to say see them continue.”
Walsh says it’s important that students take the initiative on this issue.
“I think the more that we can improve transparency and talk about things that are uncomfortable," she said. "We need to talk about healthy relationships. We need to talk about safer party culture. We need to talk about bystander intervention. The more we can talk about that, the more safe interventions that there will be, the more victim-centric we will be, the more trauma-informed.”
Fraternities are already creating solutions; as of Fall 2022, students go into fraternity rush will have to go through a sexual assault training, which has never been done before, said Moresco.
“We're implementing new strategies into that just, right from the get-go," he said. "Right when recruitment starts, we can attack it right then and there, and have that kind of stigma and mindset in our head throughout those four years, throughout all of college, really.”
Going forward, the U will continue to review and assess Greek life on campus and look to see the changes leaders are committing to making.