[Editor’s note]: Warning: this article contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault.
A second-year UC Santa Barbara student was removed from fraternity Sigma Pi on Oct. 4 following sexual assault allegations that were brought to Sigma Pi’s president earlier that morning.
One of the victims — who the Nexus is referring to as Jane Doe to protect her privacy — said she reported the sexual assault to Sigma Pi’s president after she learned that the same fraternity member had allegedly sexually assaulted another woman later the same night, Oct. 3.
Doe said she has not approached the university or the local police. At this time, the Nexus is referring to the dropped fraternity member as John Smith, as currently there is no official or criminal report naming him as the alleged perpetrator.
A Sigma Pi Member’s Expulsion From the Fraternity:
Following the night of Oct. 3, a screenshot of a Sigma Pi member’s Facebook profile was circulated in several different sorority group chats, with members stating to others that he had “raped two different girls last night,” as described in a screenshot of one chat obtained by the Nexus.
The Sigma Pi member whose Facebook profile was circulated confirmed in a phone call with the Nexus that he had been dropped from Sigma Pi and said that he felt no one was listening to his side of the story. He had arranged to meet with the Nexus but canceled the meeting less than 40 minutes before it was scheduled to occur; he did not respond to follow-up requests to reschedule.
Doe confirmed that the name of the Sigma Pi member being circulated was the same member she had reported to Ryan Macke, president of Sigma Pi.
Macke did not respond to multiple requests for comment and would not verify the name of the member that was expelled.
In text messages between Doe and Macke, which were shared with the Nexus, Macke confirmed to Doe on Oct. 5 that a member had been removed from the fraternity, and that Sigma Pi’s “Nationals acknowledged his dismemberment last night.”
Macke went on to say in the text messages that he was sending a message to other Greek life presidents regarding the matter, “letting them know the member has been expelled and this is absolutely not a representation of our house nor do we condone this type of behavior.”
In his message to the other Greek life presidents, Macke referenced the screenshot of the Sigma Pi member’s Facebook profile that had been circulating and said Sigma Pi leadership had spent the previous day “trying to find out the details to take the correct course of action.”
The night of Oct. 3, Doe said she was “pretty sober” when she ran into Smith, the alleged perpetrator, who she had met previously sometime during the last academic year and hung out with platonically throughout the summer.
According to Doe, the two of them went into an empty room “that no one was living in” in the Sigma Pi house and began to “hook up.” But then “[he] got so crazy aggressive so fast,” she said.
“He was doing things and I kept telling him to stop, and he was saying, ‘I don’t care,’” Doe said. “There was a lot of me pressed down on the ground, and I didn’t know how I was going to leave … he just kept saying,‘You’re not leaving tonight, you’re gonna stay.’”
“I felt so uncomfortable, so out of control. I could have punched him in the nose … or I could have started screaming, or at least yelled ‘get the fuck off of me.’ But I don’t know what it is … there’s this shame of, ‘I should’ve stood up for myself because I respected myself.’ And the moment I didn’t, so what does that say about what happened, you know what I mean?”
To get him to let her go, Doe said she told Smith that she needed to say goodbye to her friends “because they’re waiting for me” and told him she would “come right back.” She left and texted a group chat at 11:42 p.m. that night “CODE RED” and “where are you guys” in messages she showed the Nexus.
She returned to her house with a group of friends, “and we were in my room, you know, crying, and I was a little in shock, like I had no idea what was going on.”
Another friend who discovered Doe in her room during this time spoke to the Nexus and independently verified Doe’s recounting of the night.
While Doe’s friend went to get her water, she learned of a second woman returning to their house who had allegedly also been sexually assaulted by Smith after Doe left the Sigma Pi fraternity house.
Doe said it was this instance that pushed her to report the incident to Macke the next morning.
“I wasn’t gonna say anything, which looking back is crazy, you know what I mean? Because you should always say something,” Doe said. “Right when I found out it was beyond me, I was like, ‘I need to report this.’”
The next morning, she called a close friend in Sigma Pi, who arranged a meeting between her and Macke. She said she met with Macke at noon, and at 3:41 p.m. that day, she received a text from her friend in Sigma Pi saying “he’s dropped,” referring to Smith.
How Greek Life Responded:
Following the events of Oct. 3, Sigma Pi canceled its Midnight Madness party — one of the parties typically held every year by nearly all UCSB fraternities following the completion of rush week – Macke said in a message to the other Greek life presidents.
Two weeks later, on Oct. 17, the university sent out an alert about two reported incidents involving date-rape drugs on Oct. 5 at an unnamed fraternity. The university’s alert sparked heavy backlash on social media both from students and local community members, with many taking issue with the fact that the university had not included the name of the fraternity involved.
Doe told the Nexus that the incidents of sexual assault that she reported to Macke were unrelated to the reported use of date-rape drugs mentioned in the alert.
Following the university alert, the UCSB Interfraternity Council (IFC) announced in an email on Oct. 18 to all IFC members that they had decided to place a five-day suspension on “all fraternity social activities” between Oct. 18 and the morning of Oct. 23.
The decision to suspend all social activities was made “in light of an unprecedented level of misconduct from fraternity members and concerns from local law enforcement and University administration about systemic issues within the fraternity system,” according to the email.
Following the circulation of the fraternity member’s Facebook profile, rumors have spread around campus and Isla Vista regarding the location and alleged perpetrator of the sexual assaults. Sigma Pi’s name was mentioned by several social media accounts; one social justice-oriented Instagram account scheduled a protest walk against Sigma Pi before canceling it later that day to “give time for the victims to heal,” they wrote in a post.
Doe said she agreed to speak with the Nexus because she needed to set the record straight. She emphasized that what happened to her “isn’t a Sigma Pi problem, and it’s not a Greek life problem. It’s a hookup culture problem.” She added that Macke and other Sigma Pi members have “been there every second of the way.”
“That shit probably happens all the time — at parties that aren’t even Greek-affiliated, you know?” she said. “What’s crazy about this is I’m grateful in a weird way that he was in a frat, because it was taken care of.”
“Even though nobody knows it’s us, we’ve gone out with friends and they’ve been like, ‘Did you hear about those girls who got raped?’ That sucks […] I don’t want it to be like that — I want it to be like, ‘Did you hear about that guy that did that horrible thing? Fuck people like that.’”
Campus Advocacy, Resources & Education (C.A.R.E.) can be reached through a 24-hour advocacy line at (805) 893-4613 and Counseling & Psychological Services (C.A.P.S.) has a 24-hour confidential crisis counseling line at (805) 893-4411. Campus and community resources for individuals impacted by sexual violence, sexual harassment or other prohibited behavior can be accessed here.
Hannah Jackson, Simren Verma and Max Abrams contributed reporting.