This sorority just took a major stand on behalf of sexual assault survivors

The Alpha Phi sorority, one of the largest and oldest member organizations and the third largest sorority in the country, just made history by being the first sorority to break away from the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) by taking a stance against the Safe Campus Act.

Under federal gender equity law, colleges are currently required to respond to reports of sexual assault and harassment, and they’re able to punish the alleged perpetrator, whether the police are involved or not; after all, victims are often too traumatized to immediately go to the police and start what could very well be a lengthy and grueling investigation.

However, the Safe Campus Act would change that.

The act, which was proposed in Congress in July and highly lobbied by the NPC and several national fraternity groups, would prohibit colleges from investigating sexual assault cases unless the victim would also report them to the police. The act would also block schools from making a formal decision until after the criminal investigation was finished. As Huffington Post notes, no other crime or form of misconduct on campuses would be handled this way. Rape survivor and sexual assault groups have been imploring fraternities and sororities to stand against the bill.

Alpha Phi released a statement, which was obtained by Huffington Post, announcing that the sorority doesn’t support the bill. The statement was released “at the request of many of our members and chapters” and also notes that the sorority “has not committed to any financial support”:

Alpha Phi executive director Linda Kahangi explained to the Huffington Post that the sorority doesn’t “oppose” the bill, but wants to ensure that every chapter “[has] their own voice.” “Many of our members — both collegians and alumnae — had expressed concern that NPC’s endorsement of these two bills implied that Alpha Phi had endorsed them,” Kahangi told Huffington Post. “We wanted to clarify to them that we had not.”

NPC and other fraternities have spent a collective $200,000 on lobbying the bill. The NPC has been highly criticized for supporting the bill by various organizations — universally by rape victims’ advocacy groups — as well as politicians, including Claire McCaskill, Missouri senator and former sorority member who has been vocal about the problems with the bill.

“I’m happy to see Alpha Phi become the first sorority not to support a bill that would weaken schools’ ability to adjudicate sexual assault on their campuses and undermine safety for survivors,” McCaskill told Huffington Post. “. . . I’m hopeful this opposition sends a clear message that their sororities do not support it.”

(Image via AlphaPhi Instgram.)