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Interfraternity Council (IFC) President Alex Horncliff attended a closed-door conference with school administrators over winter break. What exactly was said may never be known, but the message became clear at Monday’s IFC meeting when Horncliff beseeched fraternity presidents to step up their efforts to prevent sexual assault on campus.
“I’ve been told to say that we cannot have another incident,” Horncliff said. “Consequences will be dire for all of us. One chapter has the ability to affect all other chapters (and) the entire structure of what we have here at Cal Poly. I’m sure you can understand what I’m trying to tell you right now … I don’t want to be the last IFC president at Cal Poly. I don’t want you to be the last presidents of your chapters at Cal Poly.”
Earlier on Monday, school administrators and Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) representatives attending a hearing on the fraternity’s future at Cal Poly. A woman reported being sexually assaulted at a PIKE party in October, and the fraternity has been suspended ever since.
Fraternity and Sorority Life Coordinator Kathryn O’Hagan declined to comment on the contents of the hearing, but said a decision will likely be made public over the next few days.
Horncliff did not know what punishments the next sexual assault tied to greeks would bring, but seemed certain administrators would not hesitate to act swiftly. He cited San Diego State and University of Virginia as schools whose greek life had recently acquired a bad reputation because of the actions of one or two chapters.
“Dire consequences could be anything from a chapter being removed to a full greek suspension to a consideration of what value is greek life adding to Cal Poly,” Horncliff said. “We want to make sure that we are adding value, that we are doing something that’s good for the campus.”
Sigma Nu president and nutrition senior Taylor Westrup encouraged other fraternities to create a Safer chair position within their chapters. He recently appointed civil engineering senior Alex Thomas, who doubles as Safer’s fraternity and sorority life educator.
“(He) serves as a liaison between the chapter and the Cal Poly Safer office. He informs the chapter of all Safer events, serves a one-year term, goes to quarterly Safer advocacy training,” Westrup said. “With everything that’s happened, we want to show people that Sigma Nu’s ready to be a leading voice for change on the course of sexual assault prevention.”
Horncliff is a paid Safer presenter who gives talks on subjects such as hyper-masculinity and what qualifies as sexual assault. Though he and former Panhellenic Council President Danielle Durante attended the meeting with administrators over winter break, Horncliff said IFC accepted the responsibility of stopping sexual assault at Cal Poly.
“This is going to sound silly, but it’s very easy to not sexually assault someone. That’s why we’re not doing a huge joint program with Panhellenic to teach women not to be sexually assaulted,” he said. “We’re here in IFC saying, ‘Let’s change this behavior. Let’s change this culture. Let’s try to look for these red flags.'”
UPDATE: Mustang News followed up with Horncliff on Wednesday and he gave the following statement in response to his previous comments.
Correction: An earlier edition of this article said the sexual assault in October was reportedly committed by a PIKE member. It was reportedly committed at a PIKE party, but the affiliation of the suspect was not identified.