LAWRENCE, Kan. (KSNT) – Some protesters are planning to come back for a second night Tuesday after hundreds gathered in front of a University of Kansas fraternity house where a member was accused of sexual assault.
Phi Kappa Psi saw a massive organized protest dubbed the “No Means No,” rally Monday night. With the Greek group publicly acknowledging a new member of the fraternity has been accused of sexual assault, a crowd of around 1,000 people held signs and threw things at the organization’s house, according to reporters at the scene.
Private security staff also pepper-sprayed protesters as they swarmed the front of the property, and at one point the protesters appeared to get on Phi Kappa Psi’s porch. The Lawrence Police Department said it, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and KU’s Public Safety Office later arrived and stayed for the rest of the protest. None of the agencies made any arrests, and while it acknowledged the OC spray incident, LPD said there were no reported injuries.
Phi Kappa Psi members were seen Tuesday cleaning off graffiti left around the fraternity building. When KSNT News asked some protesters for the reasoning, they said they didn’t think the university would take the incident seriously without a rally.
“KU likes to go back and forth between addressing situations like this,” said university senior and protestor Ella Galbraith. “We know that they’ve let the fraternities get away with doing worse things before, so I want to believe that they’ll do something, but I’m not exactly expecting it.”
People at the protest expressed concerns the victim could have been drugged. LPD, who is aware of “a possible sexual assault near campus over the weekend,” has not released any details about the allegations.
“In order to protect the privacy of victims, we do not comment or provide details about sexual assault incidents or their associated investigations,” a spokesperson for LPD said.
A group of sorority members called Strip Your Letters that’s been critical of Greek leadership at KU took ownership for the first protest, and now shared a post on Instagram indicating their plans for a second consecutive night of protest. The account name has been omitted because of an expletive in the name.
When KSNT News asked LPD if it was preparing for a second night of protests, the department did not respond. However, it did share how it handles sexual assault incidents.
“Part of the trauma-informed process utilized by the Lawrence Kansas Police Department focuses on empowering survivors by allowing them time and space to make their own decisions. We encourage anyone who is a victim or has knowledge of a sexual assault to call us at 785-832-7509,” an LPD spokesperson said.
University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas A. Girod, along with KU’s provost and vice provost, also made comments as the second protest night loomed. Their statement condoned the first protest and did confirm the university was investigating the specific sexual assault involving Phi Kappa Psi’s fraternity house.
“First, we want to say we appreciate that so many members of our community were moved to gather in support of combatting sexual assault. Sadly, sexual assault continues to be pervasive in our society, and we are heartened to know that so many of you feel compelled to engage on this topic. Additionally, we want to express our support for survivors of sexual violence and acknowledge the trauma they have endured.
“Reports of sexual assault require extreme care to ensure the health, welfare and rights of all individuals involved. In this particular instance, we can confirm that the university and local law enforcement are aware of a reported sexual assault at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house off campus, and we have initiated our investigatory process. Fraternity leaders have been cooperative … We encourage anyone with information about such instances to contact our Office of Civil Rights & Title IX, or local law enforcement.”Douglas A. Girod, Barbara A. Bichelmeyer and Tammara Durham
KSNT News plans to cover the second night of protests and will provide updates on the situation as it develops further.