After a third sexual assault this school year connected to a Cal Poly Greek party was recently reported, the university has placed the entire system on social probation.

Cal Poly officials said that a third sexual assault since October took place over the weekend and was brought to their attention on Monday.

The probation prevents all fraternities and sororities from holding any social events — with or without alcohol — until the Greek leaders can come up with a plan to change the system’s culture.

In addition to the reported assaults, the university has been informed of “extreme intoxication” of underage students at social events hosted by Greek organizations, Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to the campus community.

The letter was co-signed by Vice President of Student Affairs Keith Humphrey and Dean of Students Jean DeCosta.

“We do not take this action lightly and are making it only after careful consideration,” the letter stated. “We hope to have a thoughtful plan for cultural change proposed by our students in thirty days, at which point we will revisit the social probation.”

San Luis Obispo police Capt. Keith Storton said the alleged assault occurred late Saturday night or early Sunday morning at an off-campus location and was reported by a woman.

Storton wouldn’t say whether it happened at a fraternity house, if a fraternity was involved, or if the woman is a student.

Cal Poly officials refused to release any information about the alleged incident other than saying it occurred over the weekend at a Greek residence.

The university also would not give any information about a sexual assault reported late in the fall quarter except to say it’s being investigated.

In the first of the three incidents, a woman reported that she was sexually assaulted at a party on Halloween held by the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity off campus, at a residence on the outskirts of San Luis Obispo.

The university has withdrawn its recognition of that fraternity, which cannot apply for reinstatement on campus until six years have passed, Humphrey said.

Humphrey said it’s time to “press pause” on parties for a few weeks. Social probation means that no social events may take place at fraternity or sorority chapter facilities, satellite houses, or third-party venues.

Chapter meetings and philanthropic gatherings may take place.

“The solution is within the students and they’re the ones who are going to be coming up with substantive change through a thoughtful process,” Humphrey said. “We’re giving them time to develop a plan that will make students safer and create a healthier environment.”

Depending on the circumstances, violation of the social probation could result in consequences ranging from a warning to a loss of an organization’s charter, Humphrey said. Leaders from fraternity and sorority groups will work with the university to come up with a plan for changing behaviors.

About a year ago, Greek leaders formulated a party registration policy that limits event times, bans drinking games and requires guest lists to be submitted in advance. A guest list must be submitted for each party 24 hours in advance with birthdates provided for those 21 and older to Cal Poly’s coordinators of Fraternity and Sorority Life.

The policy was approved by Cal Poly’s Division of Student Affairs and ended a monthlong social probation that suspended Greek life gatherings.

Humphrey said that some of the rules in the policy have not been followed since its creation. The revised party policy was a response to a number of alcohol-related incidents in recent years, including the 2008 death of student Carson Starkey after a fraternity hazing event.

— Nick Wilson is a staff writer at the San Luis Obispo Tribune. Contact him at nwilson@thetribunenews.com. 

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