Trigger warning: Topic includes rape, drugging, and sexual assault.
Alright University of Massachusetts, you’ve got some explaining to do.
Some of you may have already heard about the allegations made against UMass Amherst’s Theta Chi Fraternity chapter. Last week, anonymous allegations were made on a growing social media app, Yik Yak, against the chapter for drugging and assaulting a girl at a party. The post gained quite a following from supportive students across campus and beyond. It’s important to note that Theta Chi, the UMass chapter, has had multiple allegations for rape, assault, and drugging of college-aged girls previously. Rightfully, many students are enraged.
Following the anonymous post, many felt the need to do something about the allegations. Seeming that since the school wasn’t taking them seriously, a protest was on the horizon. On Sunday, September 19th, a protest broke outside of the Theta Chi house that eventually totaled over 300 people. The protest led to throwing of rocks and sticks at the house, graffiti sprayed on the fencing, and a flipping of one of the cars. Two female students were arrested for inciting a riot and for failure to disperse from the riot.
This protest led to a shift in anger, from directly at the Theta Chi Fraternity members, to the office of Dean of Students. A lack of action and support from the offices, even with the growing violent circumstances, was unacceptable. When we leave for college to experience what it has to offer, we expect that there will be protections against victims, and consequences towards perpetrators. Though just accusations with not much evidence, they still need to be handled with care and further investigation. The “Survivors Bill of Rights,” would serve as a protection against victims, suspension of fraternity chapters involved in the allegations, and importantly, further investigations into these allegations. Over 80 students organized and attended a sit-in protest the following Monday to encourage the office to take accountability for their actions in this matter, and how to change moving forward when faced with any assault allegations.
There’s some problematic things that need to be addressed here.
This isn’t new, and it isn’t shocking. Colleges across the country have seen this time and time again, and this case is bringing up the necessary conversations involving the toxicity and protection of Greek life culture, the failure of office admins to further their concern with these delicate matters, and shift of blame. Suspension of Greek life chapters when any sexual assault allegation is made against them should already be enacted, by all schools, at all times, without question. It is always worth further investigation, and the offices of administration need to step forward and take responsibility. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do (proof, toxicity screening, etc), focus on what you can. Additionally, we as women are often taught how to protect ourselves. Never leave your drink unattended, don’t go to the bathroom alone, don’t dress too provocatively instead of addressing the problem head on. How can we prevent the assaults as a community? With 1 in every 5 college women and almost 25% of men experiencing sexual assault, it’s far too common, and far too commonly ignored.
As a young woman on a college campus who this could’ve just as easily happened to, I am here, and I support and acknowledge those who wish to remain anonymous, those who have spoken up, and those who continue to fight for justice to be served.
If you are interested in joining the fight to suspend/shutdown UMass Amherst’s Theta Chi Chapter, you can sign a change.org petition I have provided below: