A Nebraska fraternity is under renewed calls for expulsion following a claim of sexual assault against one of its pledges. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln chapter of Phi Gamma Delta, also known as “Fiji,” already had a long history of abuse allegations. With the latest accusation, students at the school are calling for the chapter to be shut down for good.
The most recent assault allegedly occurred on the night of August 23, following the first day of classes. Campus police officers responded to a call from a local hospital, where the victim recovered after the attack.
The 17-year-old victim said she had gone to the Fiji fraternity house with an 18-year-old acquaintance earlier in the night. University police logs indicate that a “wild party” was reported to be taking place at the location.
At one point, the victim said, her companion left the party, after which a member of the fraternity allegedly raped her. Following the attack, the victim left the party and rejoined her 18-year-old companion, who drove her to the hospital.
While all parties remain anonymous, chief of campus police Hassan Ramzah confirmed the involvement of a 17-year-old female student and a 19-year-old male Fiji pledge.
“Given the traumatic nature of sexual assault, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Police Department works closely with the victim-survivor to investigate the incident,” Ramzah told the school’s newspaper. “And given the sensitive nature, we work with the victim at their pace in investigation, not behind or ahead, but with them.”
Ongoing Assault Investigations
University Chancellor Ronnie Green released a statement on Wednesday, August 25 pledging to investigate the allegation.
“We take any allegation of sexual assault very seriously, and the UNL Police Department began investigating this incident as soon as the report came in,” the statement read. “That investigation remains open and ongoing.”
The chancellor also said that Fiji is already “under probation for previous violations of house policy.”
“We are closing the fraternity house and suspending operations of the Fiji chapter while this investigation is ongoing, due to potential violations of that probation,” the statement read.
Over the years, Fiji has been the subject of multiple accusations of abuse. In 2017, a university investigation of inappropriate behavior in the chapter, including sexual harassment, led the school to ban Fiji from March 2017 to May 2020.
Meanwhile, police said the chapter has been accused of sexual misconduct as recently as October of 2019. The investigation into that incident reportedly remains open.
“Sexual assault is heinous and should never happen. I wish we lived in a world where it didn’t,” Green said in a follow-up statement on Thursday, August 26. “…We all wish that resolution of these cases could come swiftly. But often, it’s not as simple as ‘locking them up.’ The guarantee of due process is part of our Constitution and core to who we are as Americans.”
Nebraska Students Demand Fraternity Ban
The incident has prompted mass student demonstrations at the UNL campus. Rose Felice, a UNL sophomore, told BuzzFeed News that thousands attended protests at the Fiji frat house on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Felice started the Instagram account @shutdownfiji after hearing about the latest allegation. She also created a petition to ban the fraternity, which has since gained over 312,000 signatures.
Buzzfeed also spoke with Paige Ravenscroft, a student from Nebraska Wesleyan University who traveled to the protests on Tuesday and Wednesday. Ravenscroft reported that attendees received AirDrops of videos mocking the demonstrations, as well as images containing homophobic and racist slurs alongside the phrase “Fiji pledge rules.”
Angela Stinson, a student who traveled from Concordia University to attend the protests, told Buzzfeed that, as a survivor herself, she was “tired of it.”
“It’s so unfortunate that the first thing you think of when you go to college as a woman is, ‘Am I going to be assaulted if I decide to have fun for a night?'” Stinson said. “But even having fun is definitely not asking for it.”
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