The Colorado Independent’s Susan Greene blows the lid off what could be a most damaging story in Colorado House District 3, the open swing-district race between Democrat Jeff Bridges and his Republican opponent Katy Brown:
Katy Brown, the Republican vying for Colorado’s highly competitive House District 3 seat, touts her experience as a web developer, Cherry Hills councilwoman and community service volunteer. Yet she has erased from her public profile one of her pet causes: championing fraternities’ and sororities’ political agenda in Washington. [Pols emphasis]
Brown served from 2012 through December 2015 on the board of the Fraternity Sorority Political Action Committee, also known as FSPAC, or FratPAC. The group describes its role as “helping position the fraternal community [to] influence legislation that will preserve the fraternity and sorority experience for future generations of student leaders.”
…FSPAC spent much of 2015 pushing for the Safe Campus Act, a bill introduced by three House Republicans that would have made it tougher for universities and colleges to suspend or sanction students accused of sexual violence. The measure would have restricted schools from investigating sex assault cases unless police are involved. It also would have extended due process rights to fraternities and sororities so that, as FSPAC wrote, “entire organizations cannot be suspended without cause.”
Victims’ groups and college administrators’ guilds condemned the police reporting requirement, saying it would intimidate some sex assault victims and prevent them from coming forward. Some critics denounced the bill for giving more protections to frat boys than to rape victims. Ultimately, some sorority and fraternity advocacy groups backed off their support of the bill, saying it was too divisive. It’s unclear whether FSPAC formally withdrew support for the Act, and the organization did not respond to inquiries for this story.
The fight over what just about everyone agrees is a major problem with sexual assault on college campuses has raged back and forth with national stories meant to persuade that either the problem is very widespread as experts and victim advocates suggest, or that the problem is exaggerated–and complicated by “personal moral failings” and deception of alleged victims.
In early 2015, Rolling Stone retracted a feature-length story on sexual assault at the University of Virginia after significant problems with the victims’ story were uncovered. Anecdotes like the UVA case are regularly used to discredit all claims of sexual assault, and undermine the larger movement to address the problem.
And that’s the side Katy Brown was on.
Since the UVA scandal, which resulted in the bill supported by Katy Brown’s FratPAC to “protect” alleged rapists on campus, other cases of extremely lenient sentences, like that of convicted Stanford University rapist Brock Turner, and more recently University of Colorado’s Austin Wilkerson, have moved public opinion back toward respect for victims and anger at a status quo that lets rapists walk free.
In a highly educated swing district like HD-3, Brown’s long record as a board member of FractPAC could be a very serious liability. The brief moment of glory the “men’s rights movement” enjoyed when the UVA story was retracted does not change the fact that sexual assault is a major problem on college campuses. As a longtime board member of FratPAC, Brown fought not just against cracking down on “rape culture” on college campuses, but also proposals against hazing pushed by the families of hazed dead students.
If this doesn’t take the shine off Brown’s fluffy-positive “crypto conservative” campaign, we don’t know what will.