Form ends with bizarre question about potential sexual assault victims

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 5:06pm

What starts as a routine questionnaire ends with a shocking inquiry: "If I could rape someone, who would it be?".

The question was posed by someone from the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity at the University of Vermont.

The administration took swift action.

"We've immediately put the chapter on interim suspension, which ceases all their activity as a chapter," said Annie Stevens, Vice President for Student and Campus Life at UVM.

To whom the survey was sent or how it was used is still unknown.

The 45-member house is under investigation -- and not just by UVM.

"We immediately did some fact finding with the chapter leadership about what they knew about it, notified the national headquarters as well as police services," said Stevens.

The Sigma Phi Epilson national fraternity mirrored UVM's actions.

Fraternity officials told the UVM chapter to "cease all operations."

The letter goes on to say "any behavior that demeans women is not tolerated."

But that's not enough for some students.

"We're trying to get as many on-campus organizations and off-campus organizations involved as we can in making sure this doesn't go unseen," said Maura McGovern, a sophomore at UVM.

McGovern is a member of Fed Up, a Burlington feminist group.

She's among many who have signed an online petition to have Sigma Phi Epsilon removed from campus.

"Rape is such a forceful and violent term that it's really just completely inappropriate and unacceptable," said McGovern.

University officials agree but say they've got more digging to do before more action is taken.

"We're just trying to understand what happened and if anything more serious comes to light based on the investigation, then we will take quick action around that as well," said Stevens.

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