American University investigating emails discussing alleged stud - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

American University investigating emails discussing alleged student misconduct

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Dozens of disturbing messages leaked online is causing quite an uproar on the campus of American University. The emails were allegedly written by members of a banned fraternity. Students are calling for action while the university president is promising an investigation into a "disturbing situation."

The messages, which are widely available on social media, discuss date rape, drug use and other racist and sexist subjects.

The emails that were leaked to the American University community appear to be conversations between brothers in a fraternity banned by the university back in 2001.

Some people described the language as over-the-top guy talk that is crude, sexist and disturbing. Whoever leaked the emails did not delete the names, phone numbers and email addresses of the senders.

Epsilon Iota was banned from the campus of American University 13 years ago, but according to students who go to school here, they never went away.

"They’re pretty much an underground operation at this point,” said one student. “They’re not recognized by campus.”

Was this was an open secret on campus?

“It is and I think the university could be doing more to try to crack down on groups like that,” said another student.

The 70 or so emails were leaked electronically by someone calling themselves "worthy keeper." They contain misogynist, sexist and homophobic language.

In a memo to the college community, President Neil Kerwin said the university is taking swift and deliberate action and will be as transparent as they can with the investigation.

One student was so upset by what she read that she started a petition online.

Amanda Gould said she thinks the presence of Epsilon Iota members is clear threat to the safety of students.

"Specifically what I’m most upset about is the ones where they were conspiring to get girls drunk in order to rape them,” said Gould.

She said she wants the university to expel the students who can be connected to the language in the messages.

"The emails that were sent around contain all of the names,” Gould said. “The university says that they’re doing an investigation in this, so I hope they are using the names. They haven’t. There has been no transparency on that.”

Gould is hoping to gather thousands of signatures on the petition before taking it to the president. So far, more than 900 people have signed the petition.

We asked to speak on camera with someone in the campus administration, but we were turned down and were told to refer to the email sent by the president to the campus community.

D.C. police say there have been no allegations of sexual assault and no alleged victims have come forward.

Below is the memorandum the president sent out to the campus:

MEMORANDUM
April 21, 2014

TO: 


Campus Community


FROM:


Neil Kerwin, President

 

SUBJECT:


Student Conduct






______________________________________________________________________________


 


Members of our campus community have been alerted through anonymous emails to student conduct allegations that demand the university’s immediate attention. The allegations include high risk and harmful behaviors that not only conflict with our values and standards, but also may represent breaches of our student conduct code and of the law.

The emails discuss alleged behaviors by a group that is not recognized by the university. A group by the same name lost national and university recognition 13 years ago, in 2001.

That these alleged behaviors may have occurred within our community reminds us that we are not immune from the problems that have occurred on campuses across the country.

I am determined that we use this disturbing situation as an opportunity to reinforce and uphold the values and standards of this university.

What AU is doing
I assure you that the university is taking the information contained in the emails very seriously. We are taking swift and deliberate action to investigate every one of the alleged behaviors and will apply our student conduct code to its fullest extent.

In addition, we are working closely with appropriate law enforcement agencies on any potential criminal activities that are found.

We will communicate as circumstances warrant, and we will continue to promote the highest level of awareness on our campus about student conduct, the behaviors identified in the emails, and the role and responsibilities of fraternities and sororities in our community.

What AU cannot do
Many in our campus community are also outraged by the alleged behaviors and are calling for specific actions and a high level of transparency by the university. However, the university is bound by regulations and statutes regarding the disclosure of names and disciplinary and other actions taken with students and with law enforcement.

We will be as transparent as we can be, but we will not jeopardize due process and the rights of individual privacy. We ask you to understand and respect the university’s governance and legal responsibilities.

Next Steps
This situation cannot be viewed as an isolated set of circumstances. It raises broader concerns about student conduct and high risk and harmful behaviors.

Over the ensuing weeks and months, we will review with the community the steps we have taken to educate and address such issues and solicit ideas about what else might be effective in curtailing dangerous, damaging and illegal behaviors.

Vice President of Campus Life Gail Hanson will communicate soon regarding this matter.

Updates and resources are available online at 
www.american.edu/media/student-conduct.cfm.


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