USF investigating sexual assault allegations on campus

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The University of South Florida has launched an inquiry following numerous complaints about sexual assault and rape on campus and within the Greek community.

President Steve Currall issued a statement on Wednesday, saying he was “deeply troubled” by allegations that surfaced on social media this week. Currall said he has called for “a review of our internal processes to reinforce what we are doing well and identify where we can improve.”

He’s also reaching out to fraternity and sorority leaders and members of the student government to discuss how to move forward.

“USF will continue to provide a range of education and training programs designed to help prevent sexual violence, raise awareness and encourage reporting of any incidents,” Currall said. “We are committed to informing our community of available help and resources, including Title IX reporting through DIEO, the confidential Center for Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention, University Police, the USF Counseling Center and the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.”

8 On Your Side turned to Danielle McDonald, Ph.D., Dean of Students at USF.

“Not surprised that there are that many stories. I think we all know that the national statistics show that anyone between the ages of 18 and 24 are more likely to be victims of sexual violence. For college students it’s three times more likely,” McDonald said.

A student started a Twitter handle titled USF Survivors. So far, dozens of women have sounded off with stories, some naming names of those involved.

“I did not understand at the time,” one woman wrote. “I was very confused and hurt.”

Some of the women directly named a USF fraternity: Sigma Nu. 8 On Your Side reached out to the organization’s headquarters and received the following statement:

Sigma Nu Fraternity is aware of recent reports made on social media of sexual assaults related to the Theta Alpha Chapter at the University of South Florida. The Fraternity is deeply concerned by these reports and takes them seriously. The Fraternity will be working with officials at the University of South Florida to investigate and respond in accordance with the Fraternity’s and University’s conduct procedures and mutual commitment to accountability and safety. Sigma Nu Fraternity denounces violations of human dignity, including sexual assault, as the antithesis of its principles of love, honor, and truth and its mission to develop ethical leaders.

Students 8 On Your Side talked to said they are aware of such incidents.

Leadership urges victims to come forward.

“University police would need specific allegations, specific victims, but the university can look at cultures and environments and patterns. And at this point, does the university think there’s a culture or there’s a pattern after hearing all these stories online. I think that’s what we’re still assessing,” McDonald said.

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