IFC President Jeriah Newman resigns in wake of controversy over comments on sexual assault

Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) President Jeriah Newman has stepped down after comments he and others made at an IFC meeting to endorse AMS candidates prompted most to reject their endorsements and some to call for a change of IFC leadership. Newman said last week that he had no plans to resign.

AMS VP Academic Max Holmes, who is running for re-election, wrote in an open letter that fraternity leaders said those accused of sexual assault should be given housing accommodations, implying frat party attendance was lower when a member accused of sexual assault was there; raised concerns about false assault allegations; and said using the word “survivor” assumed the guilt of the accused. Holmes said the discussion “gave [him] some of the worst feelings [he’s] ever had as a survivor.”

In a statement, Newman apologized for the “phrasing of questions” at the meeting and his subsequent public statements. He said he wanted to engage in a “productive dialogue” but instead “contributed to an unhealthy direction for the conversation.” Read the full statement here.

Former IFC First Vice-President Will Shelling confirmed that he has taken over as interim president. He said the IFC “will comment further on the matter following consultation with our presidents.”

Update Wednesday, March 7: In another public statement, the IFC apologized again and said they would work with the AMS and “other on-campus organizations” to create a committee that will review the council’s “policies, procedures and educational programming to promote a healthier and safer community at UBC.”

The Panhellenic Council, which represents sororities on campus, put out a public statement Monday that appeared to indirectly address the controversy, without mentioning the IFC or Newman by name.

“While a number of our chapters have educational programming on topics such as sexual misconduct and bystander intervention, and others have formalized mechanisms to receive safe disclosures, we want to do more,” it said, calling for a “large-scale initiative to address the issue of sexual violence response on campus.”

Panhellenic Council President Kennedy Gagnon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.