Students respond to Chancellor’s email regarding protests against sexual assault

University states it cannot take action ‘without actionable evidence.’

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McKenna Premus / Daily Collegian

By Catherine Hanewich, Collegian Correspondent

On Sept. 20, University of Massachusetts Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy sent an email to the campus community responding to the days-long student-led protests following an alleged sexual assault that occurred at Theta Chi fraternity the previous weekend.

The email stated that, though the University condemns sexual violence and is committed to providing support services to survivors, it “cannot take action against alleged perpetrators, whether they be individuals or organizations, without actionable evidence.”

The email asked for students to report incidents of sexual assault to the University, also stating that the violence that occurred at the protests was “not the answer” to the issue at hand, and that students who caused damage to Theta Chi’s property will be charged per the Student Code of Conduct.

Many students had strong opinions on the Chancellor’s message.

“I thought it was unbelievably vague. It didn’t mention frat culture as a whole, and it discussed more of what happened last night [at the protest] than it did with the rapes that happened previously,” said Bella Falotico, a sophomore political science major.

Suzanne Hooker, a sophomore majoring in natural resources conservation, said, “I don’t think that it was any sort of comfort to anyone who has any sort of experience with sexual assault or sexual violence, and I think that it was so harmful to this community.”

While the email gave attention to sexual assault, the damages done at Theta Chi and the protest, some students did not believe the email addressed everything needed to be said.

Alison Audette, a senior history major, said that she does not think the email “addressed the rape culture that exists on this campus.”

“It definitely didn’t address what’s going to be done to reform it,” Audette said.

“It seemed to place blame on the victim, put a lot of responsibility on them, when, that’s just so wrong,” she continued.

According to Falotico, “The school tried to dissociate from the situation by saying they didn’t have any victims to base any legal claims on.”

Hooker added, “It didn’t cover any of the actual events, it was just an attempt to placate our protest which is once again, shameful.”

In the email, Subbaswamy additionally condemned violence that occurred at the protest on Sunday night, such as students breaking down a fence outside of Theta Chi and damaging the brothers’ cars.

Regardless of whether people come forward to speak about the situation, Audette said she believes that UMass Administration should be taking action. “I think that the violence maybe got a little bit out of hand, but what preluded it was necessary,” she said.

The Massachusetts Daily Collegian cannot verify the allegations of assault by Theta Chi at this time.

 

Catherine Hanewich can be reached at [email protected]