No Warning: University officials, CMUPD explain lack of community alert, notification for alleged Delta Chi-related sexual assault
Among the many charges levied against Delta Chi, the allegations of sexual assault and theft percolated to surface once the campus community found out why the group was suspended.
The information was reported nearly a year after a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Central Michigan Life.
However, the university was made aware of the allegations within days of the incident. The university never issued a formal notification, nor did campus police issue an alert making the campus community aware that a sexual assault was reported.
Central Michigan University Police Chief Bill Yeagley said an alert was not issued because campus police never investigated the allegation.
Because the alleged assault occurred at an off-campus residence, outside the department’s on-campus jurisdiction, Yeagley said CMU police would not have been involved.
An alert wouldn’t have been required, Yeagley said, because the allegations were brought forward several days after the alleged incident. In order for a timely alert to be enacted, there needs to be an imminent threat of danger.
The length of time between the incident and the report being four days afterward meant the campus community was no longer in imminent danger, Yeagley said.
“One of the things that the Jeanne Clery Act is very clear about is, one, we have to know about it,” he said. “That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, I can just tell you that this agency never received such a complaint.”
However, due to the reporting requirements outlined in the Jeanne Clery Act, which necessitates college campuses to report both confirmed and alleged sexual assaults, the assault was reported in the CMU police’s Clery statistics reporting log.
A female student reported the assault occurred at the Delta Chi fraternity house, a registered student organization house, which falls under the university's Clery reporting jurisdiction.
Yeagley said the Clery Act does have flexibility in its reporting requirements. If an incident does not meet the mandated requirements, the incident can go unreported. The incidents involving the fraternity did not meet the necessary requirements.
A full listing of the Clery Act reporting requirements can be found online.
Shaun Holtgrieve, executive director of Campus Life, said if a student safety concern happens off campus, much like that of the Detla Chi party, he may or may not be involved in the issuing of a notification.
Due to FERPA guidelines, which protects students' educational and student discipline rights, and a need to protect the safety of the survivor, a notification was not issued.
Because the incident occurred near the end of the school year (April 19, 2013), Holtgrieve added the university thought it would have the allegations investigated by the end of the summer.
Most students were not on campus during that period, which Holtgrieve said could have factored into why the university didn’t issue a notification.
The CMU Office of Student Conduct investigated Delta Chi as a whole after the woman's report, yet the Office of Student Conduct did not hold the group accountable for the alleged assault, nor did campus police or local police, according to documents obtained from the FOIA.
The suspect, a member of Delta Chi, was found guilty of the assault via the Student Code of Conduct. That student was issued a semester-long academic suspension for the charge, according to university officials.
A separate Delta Chi member was investigated for the allegation of theft and transmitting lewd photos, which was handled by campus police. Mount Pleasant police later investigated an allegation of intimidation and stalking, which was reported on Oct. 25, according to police reports.
All of the allegations, except for the intimidation charge, stemmed from a single party at the end of Greek Week in 2013.
According to an email sent by Erica Johnson, the former Greek Life adviser, to Tom Idema, director of student conduct, the survivor of the alleged assault came forward with the allegation on April 24.
Johnson wrote that the survivor told a university official that while she was at the party, she drank liquor from her own water bottle and had not consumed an amount typical for her.
The survivor said she saw the clock around midnight and woke up at approximately 4:30 a.m. in a house she didn’t recognize with a man on top of her. The survivor reported that she did not remember the previous four and half hours of her evening.
Johnson also wrote that the survivor claimed the same thing happened to other women at the party.
Members of Delta Chi have not denied sex occurred between the fraternity member and the female student after both were under the influence of alcohol.
Although the allegation was never followed up upon with either police department, the university was aware that a sexual assault was more likely to have occurred, Idema said.
However, he said the needs of the woman outweighed the public’s right to be informed.
“It’s just one of those deals,” he said. “You suddenly become aware of things and you certainly try and be respectful of the survivor or survivors. You try and respect their wishes.
“Had the police been involved, and had we done it all over again, we probably would have looked into an alert.”
Idema said just because the group wasn’t charged with the assault doesn’t mean that an assault didn’t occur.
Holtgrieve said he understands the concern surrounding the lack of the notification, even if his and other university officials’ hands were tied from issuing one to protect the survivor’s privacy.
“When it comes to a sexual assault, and I’m not talking about this case, I’m speaking generally, we always air on the side of the survivor,” he said. “We don’t want them to be victimized a second time.”