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Fraternity suspended for rape survey

Dec. 14, 2011 at 8:50 PM   |   Comments

BURLINGTON, Vt., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- A fraternity at the University of Vermont has been suspended for circulating a survey asking members whom they'd like to rape, fraternity officials said.

The national headquarters of Sigma Phi Epsilon has instructed the UVM chapter of its fraternity to cease operations and is sending a representative to investigate the incident, the Burlington (Vt.) Free Press reported Tuesday.

Thomas J. Gustafson, vice president for student and campus life at the university, said it was unclear who was involved in creating a survey that asked members "If you could rape someone, who would it be?"

"We've got to give them some due process, obviously," Gustafson told the newspaper. "We don't know yet if this will drift into the criminal realm, or if it's just an internal UVM issue."

The survey was reported to the university by a student during the weekend.

A petition was posted online Monday arguing the incident was "only the most recent example of systemic sexism at UVM."

"The past year alone has witnessed rape, multiple sexual assaults, and anti-abortion chalking in public spaces," the petition said, referring to a protest involving chalk messages placed on sidewalks. "While the university administration has laid off long-time Women's and Gender Studies faculty and supported sexist institutions like Sigma Phi Epsilon, it has refused to take concerted action to combat sexism and rape culture."

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