Some UC Berkeley Greeks suspend parties after sex assault reports

BERKELEY (KTVU) -- The campus of UC Berkeley seemed subdued Friday night after Cal's Inter-Fraternity Council and Panhellenic Council of sororities announced they were voluntarily suspending all parties following reports of two sexual assaults at two frat houses last week.

The IFC or Interfraternity Council posted a message on Facebook saying in part that they: "wish to express our condemnation of the vile and unjust incidents that have recently occurred in our community. While we have no reason to believe that these were committed by fraternity men on this campus, it is still disheartening and alarming that they have occurred on fraternity property. We wish to reiterate our pledge to eliminate sexual violence from our community and reaffirm our commitment to our members and students of Berkeley to provide a safe environment for all."

On campus, some students noticed how quiet it seemed.

"Every Friday, there's usually tons of people around but it's a little empty tonight," said Michael Lanza, a UC Berkeley junior and fraternity member.

"It's not fair to blame alcohol," said Wes Slaughter, a junior at Cal who is also a member of the Sigma Phi fraternity. "It's definitely a cultural issue that we need to deal with. It's a fair move by the IFC for sure."

Berkeley police have not publicly identified the fraternities under investigation or whether the reported attacks involved frat members or campus visitors.

Berkeley police said the sexual assaults were reported within ten minutes of each other. Also that day, Berkeley police took reports of a misdemeanor sexual assault and a felony sex crime in the city.

"It definitely affects my friends who don't feel comfortable walking home alone at night sometimes," said Keaton Peters, a junior and member of the Sigma Phi fraternity.

"I just take a lot of precaution when I go out, because it's kind of scary living around a bunch of frats," said Marimar Arango, a Cal senior who lives along frat row.

Campus police say they have increased patrols.

"There has been some activity on both sides of campus recently so we've done some extra patrols to address that behavior," said Lt. Marc DeCoulode of the UC Berkeley Police Department.

Still, there were some parties Friday at unregistered frat houses which are not part of the IFC and do not sign an agreement with the university to abide by campus conduct codes.

"The agreement is only for registered fraternities," DeCoulode said. "There's a number of unregistered fraternities that will still have parties. There's houses that will still have parties."

He praised the IFC for voluntarily taking action.

"It's great that they recognize there's a problem so we have to commend them for stepping up and doing that."

Some students also say they are glad the IFC is taking proactive steps and hope it will lead to safer parties in the long run.

I think they're doing the right thing," Lanza said. "I think they should take as long as they need."

The Greek councils are expected to meet Saturday to discuss their policies and safety concerns. The IFC said it commends the victims' courage for stepping forward.

By KTVU reporter Jana Katsuyama.