DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - Millikin University students are speaking out against a new policy put in place by the college to combat sexual assault on and off campus.
"To this end, it is our decision to place our fraternity and sorority community on notice. Specially, the university is enacting an immediate and strict no guest policy within our fraternity and sorority chapter facilities until further notice," a university-wide emailed announced Friday to students.
Millikin officials are also banning all parties and are threatening to suspend students who attend unregistered parties or gatherings with underage drinking.
"Additionally, we are asking all students, affiliated or not, to cease and desist from any gatherings where alcohol is central. We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has created a want to gather and socialize. However, the current environments being facilitated within these unsanctioned events are simply not healthy or safe and detract from the Millikin experience. Students who decide to engage in or host events that violate our alcohol or event policies are subject to swift student conduct sanctioning up to an including suspension from Millikin," the statement went on to say.
Students said they were shocked by this notice.
"Apparently the university thinks is the issue with sexual assault is the fact that Greek life is having unauthorized events that involve alcohol. Which makes no sense because every time I've been sexual assaulted, I've been sober," Mikayla Bailey, a senior at Millikin, told WAND News.
Bailey said a friend assaulted her in her apartment on campus and there was no drinking involved.
"Alcohol is not it. It is the fact that people can do something like that and get away with it," Dante Hansen, a senior student, added.
Hansen said they were assaulted in a freshman dorm by a peer mentor.
"Against my will gave me drugs that made it so that I couldn't move. I wasn't drinking, we weren't at a party, we were just in a dorm," Hansen explained.
This is why Hansen and others were so frustrated with the Millikin message, that seemed to blame Greek life and parties for the rise in sexual assaults.
"As the university continues to investigate submitted reports, we encourage all survivors of sexual misconduct to come forward. Millikin University wants to support you. We believe you. We are committed to stopping the creation of environments that may lead to this misconduct. However, we need the support and assistance of the student body and student leaders of our organizations. When you see something, say something. Practice good bystander behaviors, do not engage in sexual activity when alcohol is involved, familiarize yourself with the Millikin University definition of consent, and help each other make clear and informed choices without the use of substances," Millikin officials went on to say in a statement Friday.
"The core issue is that there are still rapists that are here on campus and assaulters who are here on campus," Bailey told WAND News.
Bailey believes there are little consequences for even convicted or admitted perpetrators on campus.
"It was disheartening to see instead of banning and increasing the zero tolerance policy on sexual assault, to see a ban on drunk girls," Madeline Curtin, a senior student, explained.
Curtin said she is also a survivor. She's now one of the students spearheading an effort to change the university's policy on sexual assault.
"There just needs to be belief in survivors, and a belief that if we try hard enough, and the school actually shows that they care about us, that there can be a change and maybe we won't have to report as many," Curtin explained.
Curtin and others also want to see a zero tolerance policy, where anyone convicted of sexual assault is expelled from campus. It would also place more serious consequences of those who admit to or are accused of an assault.
These students also told WAND they would like to see more resources for victims and better support during the reporting process.
In response to student outcry over the initial Friday message, Millikin released the following statement to WAND News:
"Millikin University cares about every student and intends to have an atmosphere where any survivor of sexual misconduct feels encouraged to file a report with any University employee. All reports are taken seriously and investigated to the fullest extent possible. The university follows Federal Title IX regulations, which are executed through our student conduct process."
If you or someone you know have been the victim of sexual assault, you can reach out to the Growing Strong Sexual Assault Center in Decatur.