LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - San Diego State University on Tuesday banned a fraternity whose members were accused of harassing people taking part in an anti-rape march, a move that comes amid a renewed debate over the handling of sexual assaults on U.S. college campuses.
The university said on its website that the national offices of Delta Sigma Phi fraternity had agreed to close the Gamma Alpha chapter at San Diego State at least until the fall of 2016.
“There is no place in our campus community for the type of ongoing behaviors displayed by those involved with this fraternity chapter,” Eric Rivera, SDSU’s vice president for student affairs, said in a written statement.
“We appreciate the willingness of the national office of Delta Sigma Phi to step in and address these issues and take action with us. We hope that through these actions, when the time is right, they will bring a chapter back to SDSU and be productive members of our community,” Rivera said.
Fraternity members were accused of being among a group of hecklers who threw eggs and waved sex toys at about 35 students taking part in an anti-rape “Take Back the Night” march through the campus in November.
San Diego State was one of four California public universities criticized in June for poor staff training and preparation to deal with sexual assault issues on campus in a statewide audit.
Training lapses left university staff at risk of mishandling students reporting sexual harassment and violence, it said.
Since that report was issued, the university has aggressively trained staff and educated students about sexual misconduct, a campus spokesman has said.
U.S. colleges have been grappling with a spate of sexual harassment and assault cases. President Barack Obama in September launched a campaign to end sexual violence on campuses.
Fueling that debate was a recent article in Rolling Stone magazine describing an alleged gang rape of a female student at a University of Virginia fraternity house.
The magazine has since backtracked on the article, citing “discrepancies”, and apologized after critics and news organizations challenged its veracity.
Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Clarence Fernandez