Update: Sigma Phi Epsilon has ‘ceased operations’ during Cal rape investigation

Sigma Phi Epsilon at 2728 Channing Way. Image: Google Maps

The Berkeley Police Department is investigating a rape report early Sunday morning at a UC Berkeley fraternity, authorities say.

The incident took place in the 2700 block of Channing Way, according to the University of California Police Department (UCPD), which released a Nixle alert Sunday morning about the Berkeley Police Department case. UCPD wrote that the survivor is a UC Berkeley student.

Officer Byron White, spokesman for the Berkeley Police Department, said the sexual assault, which was described as a rape, took place between midnight and 1 a.m. Sunday. He said he was “unable to provide more information about this incident as this is an active investigation and the victim’s information is confidential.”

An individual familiar with the case told Berkeleyside the young woman who was sexually assaulted is a freshman at UC Berkeley, and that two assailants were responsible. He said the incident was reported at Sigma Phi Epsilon, at 2728 Channing Way, which Berkeleyside confirmed by reviewing police scanner archives.


The Associated Press reported Monday morning that there were two male assailants who, according to White, “are about 18-years-old.” White told the AP he did not know whether the young men are UC Berkeley students.

White told Berkeleyside he could not comment on that report. He did confirm after publication that the person identified by UCPD as a survivor is female. White said police have “limited suspect information.”

White cited Penal Code 293 as the basis for releasing less information than is typically provided about crime reports. He said he could not release the woman’s age due to confidentiality laws.

Police have said nothing about arrests associated with the case.

Sigma Phi Epsilon spokeswoman Heather Kirk, speaking on behalf of the national organization and local chapter, told Berkeleyside by email Monday afternoon that “SigEp’s California Alpha Chapter at UC Berkeley responded to reports of a woman being sexually assaulted while at its facility” Sunday. “Members of the risk management team immediately took her to the hospital, and the chapter referred the issue to the university and the authorities for thorough investigation.”

The UC Berkeley chapter of the fraternity has “ceased operations,” Kirk said, meaning “all facets of chapter programs or events” will cease while headquarters “staff and volunteers work with the chapter to investigate the situation.”

“SigEp takes any allegation of sexual violence seriously,” Kirk said. “We consistently seek to enhance prevention measures and commend these members for the care and concern they showed this survivor.”

According to the most recent status information posted by UC Berkeley’s Center for Student Conduct, Sigma Phi Epsilon is “in good judicial standing” with the university. The webpage is currently unavailable, however, and the most recent update is from June 2018. (Berkeleyside has alerted the campus to the technical problem with its website.)

UC Berkeley’s Interfraternity Council, the “binding organization that ties [together] all of the recognized fraternity chapters on campus,” did not reply Monday morning to an interview request.

Sigma Phi Epsilon, or SigEp, was founded in 1901 at the University of Richmond, according to a UC Berkeley directory of campus organizations.

Fraternities at UC Berkeley have taken a number of steps in recent years to curtail drinking, as it has been associated with a variety of serious problems, including sexual assaults and fatalities.

SigEp adopted a resolution, effective August 2018, that all common areas would be substance-free, and that alcohol consumption would be restricted to “private rooms of members of the legal drinking age.”

Berkeleyside updated this story after publication with additional detail from BPD. Berkeleyside also added a statement from Sigma Phi Epsilon when it was provided.