AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – An investigation is underway at UMass Amherst following a protest at a fraternity house over the weekend.
According to the Amherst Police Department, the protestors were accusing the fraternity of sexual assault.
The scene outside the Theta Chi Fraternity consisted of approximately three hundred students chanting and breaking the windows of cars parked in front of the fraternity. In addition to Amherst Police, State Police, UMass, and Hadley officers were all called to help disperse the crowd.
22News spoke with a student involved in the protests, who asked to remain anonymous, “It was just, it was chaos. But in our minds, at least in the minds of the people who were vandalizing and all that, it’s deserved because we’re tired. We have tried for a very longtime to get these things resolved. So if they wouldn’t listen to us peacefully, this is what we have to resort to.”
UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy sent 22News the following statement:
Yesterday afternoon approximately 300 student protestors converged off campus at the Theta Chi fraternity house in response to reports circulating online and among students of an alleged sexual assault involving the fraternity. Let me be unequivocally clear, we condemn sexual violence of any kind and are committed to providing robust support services to survivors and to vigorously investigating all allegations of sexual assault.
The allegations of sexual assault that came to light this weekend, prompting an outpouring of concern and outrage among students, are deeply troubling. At this point, no survivor or witness has come forward to file a complaint or a report substantiating the claims that have been made on various social media platforms. 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.
We take seriously our responsibility to take clear and direct action in support of survivors and to uphold the Student Code of Conduct. To do so most effectively, we need your help. Our community needs you to take an active role and report incidents to the administration so that we are able to conduct a thorough investigation and hold accountable any responsible parties. We strongly encourage anyone with direct knowledge of or information related to the alleged Theta Chi incident, or any incident of sexual assault or misconduct, to contact university authorities immediately.
Allegations of this kind and the impassioned response of our community remind us of the work we must do to change the culture here on campus and in society more broadly. The violence exhibited yesterday by some in the crowd, however, is not the answer. Those who were responsible for the violence and damage to property will be charged per applicable laws and the Student Code of Conduct. We owe it to survivors and to every member of our community to work together to channel our emotions in a productive way to ensure a safe and secure environment for all.