Arizona State University students are demanding improvement of sexual assault services after University of Nebraska fraternity rape case went viral.
A petition to ban the University of Nebraska- Lincoln’s chapter of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity (commonly known as FIJI) circulated online after a freshman was allegedly raped on Aug 23., the night of the first day of classes.The petition was titled urged Nebraska administrators to ban the fraternity after what organizers alleged was a history of sexual assaults.
The petition had more than 492,000 signatures as of Monday.
A student at NLV, Paige Ravencroft, posted a photo of signs from protests led by students outside of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house that said things like, “If U Didn’t Stop it U R Guilty 2,” “Even my dog understands when I say no!” and “Stop victim blaming.”Ravencroft’s caption advocated for shutting down Phi Gamma Delta and said that the situation was a nationwide issue.
“It saddens me that once again we must stand for the silenced. Sexual violence has become such a pressing issue of rights in our society, and it is disheartening how common it has become across college campuses," she said. "This has become an extremely systemic issue, as the so called system is not doing enough to protect all its members and make them feel safe.”
Ravencroft also urged people to sign the petition and hash-tagged the post with #nomeansno.
Arizona State University’s Phi Gamma Delta chapter released a statement on their chapter Instagram about the situation on Aug. 27.The ASU chapter extended their condolences and described the actions of the members at UNL as “disgraceful.”
The statement also said its members planned to continue to support those affected by sexual violence.
The issue has had an impact with students at ASU, including questions about issues with parties and fraternities.
“Some of the things I heard did scare me because the whole college experience is something you walk into blind…new people and new environments," said Lindsay Castro, a junior studying political science at ASU.
She also said that for the most part she was “really excited to join Greek life and the ASU community. You hear rumors about hazing everywhere but you question liability of these statements because you think it can’t happen to you.”
A year ago, ASU dealt with a viral petition for a freshman who claimed she had been sexually assaulted at the Hassayampa dorms after a fraternity party. The victim, Alayna Helgason, posted a series of three Instagram videos in November 2020 that explained her experience with ASU after she reported the rape in February 2020.The combined engagement on all three videos received over 80,000 views.
A group not affiliated with ASU called Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault created a petition titled “Support Alayna and other ASU rape victims” that received 53,603 signatures as of last week.Castro said she did hear about the petition when it was going around.
“I think it’s something that needs to be taken more serious," she said. "The worst part is it's never the victim's fault but they are ones that have to live through the trauma and fear. As a woman, it sucks to see other females go through something so horrible and you think when will this stop, when will there be organizations and centers we can go to if I ever were the victim and what can women who are suffering from this do. It’s honestly just really heartbreaking because no college takes it to the next level and does anything,” she said.
The petition, created in November, called for ASU to open a rape crisis center and for Helgason to be reimbursed for trauma therapy and legal fees.
The petition justified the need for a crisis center with this statement: “ASU currently has no rape crisis center, no women’s center, and no rape crisis advocates not housed within the ASU Police Department. If Alayna had an actual rape crisis advocate instead of the ASU Police victim advocate, her experience reporting might not have been so devastating.”
Helgason and UNL have brought a larger issue to the surface: That universities were not doing enough to combat sexual assault, and victims were being left to deal with the result of that on their own.
“It’s heartbreaking to see nothing is being done to help women going through that experience," Castro said. "Especially with laws being passed in Texas. Women everyday have to live in fear of whether or not they will be the next victim. I think what is happening needs to be a conversation at every college, it’s not something we haven’t seen before and the fact that it’s reoccurring shows there needs to be something done about it."
SDASA has the statistic, “Fraternity members are three times more likely to commit sexual assault, and women involved in Greek organizations are 74% more likely to experience rape than students not involved in Greek Life,” written on their website in bolded letters. After a victim came forward, thousands signed a petition, and a 22-page proposal for a Campus Assault Advocacy, Resources, and Education Center was introduced, ASU still did nothing.
Less than a year later, the community is reminded of the need for change and resources after students engage with an incident at another university.
“There’s always a possibility that our school could make the next headline,” Tessmer said.
“The last thing I should be worried about when going to college is sexual assault, it’s sad that so many women have to be faced with that possibility when choosing to further their education.”
Ashley Feeder is a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University.
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