An all-male Jewish fraternity is at the centre of multiple sexual assault, harassment and rape allegations made by students at St Andrews University.
More than a dozen claims have been made against members of Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), an American-style brotherhood of 50 members that is not officially part of the university and has branches across the world.
Its chapter at St Andrews was the first of its kind to have been established at the prestigious Scottish university, which was attended by both Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Since allegations arose via Instagram account, St Andrews Survivors, AEPi has suspended a number of its members and pledged to investigate the claims, review current leadership of the fraternity and include “mandatory consent education and anti-rape culture education” for members.
In a statement posted to the group’s Facebook page, AEPi said: “We find the contents of these allegations abhorrent and are taking them extremely seriously.
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“Coming forward in any capacity takes tremendous bravery and we want to thank everyone who has both told their stories and those who have supported them as we confront these difficult issues.”
On St Andrews Survivors, which is not affiliated with the university, one anonymous post said: ‘I was out drinking and had met a frat boy through friends. I had a meltdown outside The Union and he comforted me, I explained that I had been sexually assaulted on another night out.
‘He offered to take me to his for some water since he lived nearby and I didn’t. I was very drunk and so he put me to bed and he was going to sleep on the floor.
‘I woke up sometime later and he was in the bed with me feeling me up. I can’t believe anyone could do this.’
Another wrote: “I was raped the third week of my first year. My rapist was already solidly part of my group of friends and because I was so new and so afraid he remained part of my life for years.
“I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it, much less seek help, until the summer before my third year.
“I am about to begin my final year at St Andrews and I am still dealing with the impact of what happened to me every day.”
In a full statement, the university said it welcomed people coming forward to share their experiences, adding that some of the accounts were historic or did not take place at St Andrews.
It said: “We welcome the ‘St Andrews Survivors’ account’s efforts to provide people of all genders a space to voice their experiences of sexual misconduct.
“The Proctor met with the account creator this week to establish how we can work together to signpost support and reporting mechanisms to students who require them.
“The university’s primary concern is to ensure survivors know that we are ready and willing to support their decisions and take action, facilitate police reporting, and provide ongoing support accordingly.
“We have clear and established procedures for investigating allegations of this nature. However, the details of any investigations must remain confidential to offer appropriate support and fair outcomes to all concerned. It would not be appropriate for us to comment on whether any specific individual or group is under investigation.”
In a message of support to the victims, Jewish Women’s Aid, which is liasing with the university, today said: “We are aware of the allegations against the Aepi Chapter of the University of St Andrews, and would always recommend that allegations of criminal conduct should be reported to the police.
“We stand firmly against any and all instances of sexual violence and want women and girls in the Jewish community to know that we are here to support them if they are affected.”
The charity runs consent and healthy relationship workshops in schools and on campuses, last year reaching 4,000 Jewish students across the country.
While AEPi is an independent Jewish organisation, the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) said in a statement that it is aware of the allegations, which “must be taken seriously and dealt with in collaboration and cooperation with the proper authorities and support systems.”
It added: “UJS continues to offer support to Jewish students at St Andrews through the local Jewish Society, signposting to key local, national and community organisations who can support students should they have been affected by any of the issues raised in these accounts. UJS takes our duty of care of Jewish Students nationally very seriously.”
A spokesperson for Migdal Emunah, which offers advice and support for men, women and children affected by sexual abuse, said: “We have been made aware of the allegations against members of Alpha Epsilon Pi and strongly urge anyone who has been affected by this to contact the police and our ISVAs for independent guidance and tailored support.”