Hundreds protest outside KU fraternity in response to alleged sexual assault; university says it’s investigating
photo by: Shaughnessy Hoefer
Updated at 5:06 p.m. Tuesday
Hundreds of people gathered Monday night to protest an alleged sexual assault at a University of Kansas fraternity.
Patrick Compton, a spokesman for the Lawrence Police Department, said “a few hundred” people gathered outside of the fraternity house for Phi Kappa Psi, located on the 1600 block of West 15th Street, which is adjacent to KU’s campus. Officers closed West 15th Street from Engel Road to Learned Hall Road as the protest continued, he said.
The protest reportedly was in response to a recent alleged sexual assault at the fraternity, with individuals holding signs that said “No Means No” and demands for the fraternity to be banned from campus. The fraternity has indicated that it reported the allegation to officials.
photo by: Shaughnessy Hoefer
“The university takes seriously all allegations of sexual violence and has robust processes to investigate such allegations,” university spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson said in an email Tuesday. “We encourage anyone who has experienced sexual violence to contact law enforcement or the university’s Office of Civil Rights and Title IX to initiate an investigation.”
The university has multiple resources to assist individuals who have experienced sexual violence, she said.
A spokesman for the fraternity said the organization has been made aware of the allegations involving one of its new undergraduate members and the university was immediately notified.
“Phi Kappa Psi takes these allegations very seriously and will fully cooperate with law enforcement,” the statement said. “Due to the recent nature of these allegations and the need for a full and complete investigation, Phi Kappa Psi cannot provide further comments at this time.”
In a letter sent out to the KU community Tuesday afternoon, KU Chancellor Douglas Girod, Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer and Vice Provost for Student Affairs Tammara Durham said the university was investigating and that fraternity leaders have been cooperative.
Compton said in a news release Tuesday afternoon that LPD was aware of the alleged sexual assault incident, but did not confirm or deny whether it was under investigation. He said that in order to protect the privacy of victims the department does not provide information about sexual assault investigations. He also said the department encouraged anyone who is a victim of sexual assault or has knowledge of an incident to call the department at 785-832-7509.
“We take allegations of sexual assault very seriously,” Compton said in the news release. “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.”
Lawrence police were called to the scene for a report of trespassing and remained at the scene throughout the duration of the protest, along with officers from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and KU Police. Compton said no one was injured or arrested as a result of the protest.
Compton also noted that LPD was aware of reports of people being pepper sprayed during the protest. He said that law enforcement officers did not use pepper spray, but that private security personnel had done so before the officers arrived.
A petition to remove Phi Kappa Psi from campus had garnered more than 13,500 signatures by Tuesday afternoon.
The university last year banned the fraternity from campus for 14 days for violating Douglas County public health orders for COVID-19, the Journal-World previously reported.