Campus groups react to fraternity vandalism

Kayla Meyertons

At least four off-campus fraternity houses have been vandalized in the last week with graffiti with messages ranging from “racist” to “kill frat boys.”

The vandalism started last Monday morning when the words “racist” and “rapist” were spray-painted on three stone pillars outside the front gate of the Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) fraternity house on West 27th Street. Other fraternity houses that were spray-painted included Kappa Alpha, Kappa Sigma and Pi Kappa Alpha. 

Texas Interfraternity Council said in recent years it has worked to raise awareness for and address sexual assault by partnering with organizations such as Not On My Campus and Voices Against Violence.

Peter Stanley, vice president of communications for Texas IFC, said in a statement Texas IFC strives to promote a safe, enriching and inclusive environment for all members of UT campus.

“The Forty Acres should never be a place for hateful rhetoric against any group,” chemical engineering senior Stanley said. “We appreciate President Fenves’ releasing of a statement on the issue, and we know that the University is working on this issue in conjunction with local law enforcement.” 

On April 19, Fenves released a statement addressing the original report of vandalism at the off-campus Fiji house.

“At the University of Texas at Austin, we will not tolerate vandalism and threats
targeting our students and are actively investigating the recent incidents near campus,” Fenves said in a statement. “Many students understandably feel concerned and vulnerable. I want them to know we are committed to making UT Austin a safe environment for all students.”

Mia Goldstein, Plan II sophomore and president of Voices Against Violence, said the focus should be on rape culture instead of vandalism.

“I think there are more productive ways to handle rape culture, (but) those who did it did start a conversation that’s absolutely necessary,” Goldstein said. “It’s not solely the fraternities that are committing sexual assault, but they are contributing to the culture.”

Goldstein said she thinks the history speaks for itself regarding the “racist” and “rapist” labels.

“Those are not labels that you want to have, but the proof is in the pudding with them,” Goldstein said. “I think with the history of racist parties and racist pledge rules and also just rape culture in general, like Fiji especially, is culpable for that, so while it’s not nice to spray paint, those are valid labels.”

Goldstein said her opinions do not represent the opinions of VAV.

Alexandra Vanderziel, co-director and founder of Steps for Survivors, said she thinks the graffiti is a representation of what happens when survivor voices are not being heard.

“That’s what happens when sexual assault is not being taken as seriously as it needs to be,” business honors sophomore Vanderziel said. “When people aren’t feeling heard or listened to, this is how they’re going to feel like they need to make their voices heard and stop letting crime be pushed under the rug or not taken seriously.”