Easily several hundred protesters gathered again in front of Phi Kappa Psi at the University of Kansas Tuesday night in response to reports of a sexual assault.
The action began Monday evening, when students showed up to push for accountability and show support for “Jane Doe,” a woman who said she was roofied and raped at the fraternity house Saturday night. Organizers say the woman has had help and support.
Lawrence police said in a news release Tuesday that they were “aware of an incident involving a possible sexual assault near campus over the weekend. In order to protect the privacy of victims, we do not comment or provide details about sexual assault incidents or their associated investigations.”
A student with the organization Strip Your Letters — which has the goal of pushing for the Panhellenic Association to “uplift all sisterhoods & make Panhellenic safer for ALL women” — explained on an Instagram live feed from the scene that that group wasn’t organizing the protest.
However, she shared that organizers did not aim to hurt anyone or do any vandalism. She said the organization does want to see the university do a full investigation and take action “for this Jane Doe and all Jane Does,” and for Student Senate to reevaluate its student code in regards to sexual violence, to be more survivor-centered and helpful to survivors.
Reports over the police scanner indicated that all the residents of the fraternity home had been evacuated, and that they had called in a trespass at 8:30, when the second night of protesting was set to begin.
The University Daily Kansan broadcast a live feed via Instagram for about 45 minutes of the protest. Those present, packing the yard in front of 1602 W. 15th St., were shouting messages such as “No means no,” “Say it once, say it again — no excuses for violent men,” “Real men don’t rape” and “We believe her.”
Organizers and supporters from the Instagram account @fckpkp are encouraging students to reach out to leaders of the Interfraternity Council, KU Chancellor Douglas Girod, and the coordinator of sorority and fraternity life to ask that Phi Kappa Psi be removed from campus or file a complaint.
Girod’s office issued a statement Tuesday afternoon reiterating that an investigation was underway and encouraging survivors to contact the university’s CARE Coordinator and or other available resources depending on their specific needs.
“First, we want to say we appreciate that so many members of our community were moved to gather in support of combatting sexual assault,” the statement said. “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.”
Phi Kappa Psi issued a statement Monday saying the allegations “against a new undergraduate member” were under investigation.
It was not immediately clear Tuesday night whether there would be a night 3 of protests or if something else was in the works.
A Change.org petition calling for KU to Ban Phi Kappa Psi had grown to more than 15,500 signatures as of just before 10 p.m. Tuesday.
An apparent counter-protester showed up at one point with two flags, one pro-Trump and one anti-Biden. It appeared from a livestream that protesters chased that person away.
The protest continued as of roughly 10 p.m. Tuesday. Numerous Lawrence police officers could be seen in the background of a live video feed on the @stripyourletters Instagram account.
In less than four months, the office at the University of Kansas that receives and investigates reports of sexual and gender-based violence has undergone a rebranding and replaced all but one of its staff members — including the former director — unbeknownst to most of the KU community.
For two nights this week, hundreds of outraged students showed up at a University of Kansas fraternity house, demanding answers. The scene, filled with palpable anger and frustration, demonstrated a shift in how students think about and respond to sexual violence that organizers say was a long time in the making.