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UMass Amherst students protest fraternity Theta Chi

Photo submitted by UMass Amherst student.
Theta Chi frat house.

**TRIGGER WARNING** This article contains mentions of sexual assault and rape.

On Sunday, Sept. 19, over 300 people protested the UMass Amherst fraternity Theta Chi following anonymous allegations that a female student had been drugged and sexually assaulted at a fraternity party the night before.

Protesters began demanding that Theta Chi be held accountable for their actions around noon on Sunday. Word of the protest spread through the anonymous social media app Yik Yak, where students shared their personal encounters with fraternities.

By 2 p.m. the protest had garnered police attention, and officers from the UMass Amherst Police Department and the Amherst Police Department, as well as State Troopers, attempted to contain the protestors.

The protests reignited Sunday night, as people broke through fencing, smashed and looted cars, flipped a car, threw water balloons, eggs and rocks through windows, spray painted the property, and yelled “torch the house.”

As the protests continued, Maya Madison Meck-Borden, aged 20, and Dale Andrew Leville, aged 19, were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, inciting a riot and failure to disperse from a riot.

During the Sunday night protests, fraternity brothers left the house and were seen throwing cans from their vehicles, as well as ridiculing and taking videos of the protestors. Additionally, Snapchat videos surfaced showing Theta Chi president and other fraternity brothers attending a yacht party shortly after.

The protests continued on Monday, beginning with a sit-in. Roughly 50 students protested the Theta Chi fraternity on Monday afternoon by sitting on the floor of UMass Amherst’s Whitmore administrative building.

This protest was also organized via social media, including platforms such as Instagram and Reddit. Protestors created a general list of demands which included the disbanding of Theta Chi.

Following the sit-in, UMass Amherst administration acknowledged the allegations of sexual assault by way of email from their chancellor, Kumble Subbaswamy.

“While we respect and support a survivor’s decision whether or not to report an assault or pursue sanctions, we cannot take action against alleged perpetrators, whether they be individuals or organizations, without actionable evidence,” states the email.

The email also asserts that those who participated in Sunday night’s violence and those who damaged property will be charged according to the Student Code of Conduct.

Neither the Dean of Students Office at UMass Amherst nor the university’s Student Conduct and Community Standards Office responded to the Mass Media’s request for comment regarding the events that unfolded.

On Monday night, the largest protest against Theta Chi arose. Hundreds of students gathered again in front of the fraternity and shared their thoughts and experiences through a megaphone.

Though this protest was also not organized by one group and rather via Yik Yak and Reddit, sophomore Beck Long acquired a megaphone through the university’s Center for Education and Policy. Long also spoke to the Center about organizing tactics with the aim of keeping this protest more “orderly,” in Long’s words.

The protest lasted from 8 p.m. until 11 p.m., and student protesters were joined by a member of UMass Amherst faculty: adjunct sociology Professor Veronica Everett.

According to The Massachusetts Daily Collegian—UMass Amherst’s student newspaperEverett said she’s “seen a culture of sexual assault on the UMass campus,” and that is why she attended Monday’s protest.

Theta Chi is also under scrutiny for the large parties they threw in February of 2021, as these parties violated UMass Amherst’s COVID-19 safety protocols. Almost 8,000 students signed a petition calling for the fraternity to be disbanded. As of Thursday, Sept. 23, nearly 25,000 people have signed a change.org petition to suspend or disband the fraternity.

For UMass Boston’s on-campus resources regarding sexual assault, visit https://www.umb.edu/titleix/resources#panel1

About the Contributor
Abigail Basile, News Editor