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'How come my safety isn’t prioritized?' says UNL senior about fraternity with problematic history

Phi Gamma Delta center of sexual assault allegations
Posted at 3:44 PM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-26 20:03:50-04

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Content warning: this story contains a discussion of an alleged campus sexual assault

The Phi Gamma Delta fraternity has been shut down by University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green, pending an investigation of a reported sexual assault outside the fraternity house.

UNL Police Chief Hassan Ramzah tells 3 News Now that campus police are actively investigating a sexual assault that occurred some time on Monday night or Tuesday morning, saying they’re looking at all possible angles and circumstances.

Chancellor Green announced Thursday that due to possible violations of probation, the university is shutting down the frat house and suspending its operations until the investigation is complete.

When they first heard about the reported assault, multiple female students took the news hard.

“It’s a shot to my chest, it kind of makes you feel like, how come my safety isn’t prioritized, how come women as a whole, how come our safety isn’t prioritized?” said senior at UNL, Carissa Caraway.

In a statement, Chancellor Green said they’re committed to a safe campus environment and “No one should be a victim of sexual assault or harassment, and we have taken a number of steps to provide additional support and reporting mechanisms for our campus."

The allegations come four years after Phi Gamma Delta, known as FIJI, was suspended as a member of the UNL Greek community.

That conduct included multiple instances of reckless alcohol use, sexually inappropriate behavior and a pattern of sexual harassment.

They were recently reinstated on a probationary basis.

“It’s really frustrating, its just like, we knew there was a problem in the past, they’re reinstated and not even the first day of school is completed and we have another issue,” said Caraway.

Caraway says she has taken different routes home to avoid the Fiji house on campus in the past, due to what she’s heard from others.

“I knew like a week coming here their reputation at that house and it wasn’t a good one,” said Caraway.

She's not alone, as Jennifer Barrett was also told to stay away.

“Even the day I walked in as a freshman, people told me that,” said Barrett, a senior.

Both women attended a protest at the frat house Wednesday night in which hundreds yelled the alleged perpetrator’s name and that they want to see the university ban the fraternity permanently.

“The fact that they have this prolonged reputation and there are still allowed to be here, I think they should definitely be kicked off campus. Enough is enough and how many more girls are we going to sacrifice and their safety so they’re able to organize,” said Caraway.

Barrett hopes the University takes a harder line than it did in 2017.

“It’s a bad place to be and I want to feel safe on campus and I want everyone around me to feel safe on campus as well, so it’s just, I want the admin to do something about it and take some actions that show that these actions that they have done, are not okay,” said Barrett.

During the protest, many in attendance received a Snapchat video, apparently airdropped from Fiji frat members inside the house, seemingly laughing at what was going on outside.

The women say it proves their point. Fiji needs to go.

“If you can laugh the day after someone was assaulted in your house then that shows you what kind of people you have there,” said Caraway.

“Yeah it really shows their lack of empathy toward the victim, it shows their true characters as a fraternity as well as people,” said Barrett.

3 News Now has been told that more protests could be coming around the FIJI frat house until the frat is permanently kicked off campus.

In a statement from the local chapter of Phi Gamma Delta they say these allegations are being treated seriously and they “absolutely do not meet our fraternity Code of Conduct."

They also say as the investigation continues, “we are prepared to take immediate, appropriate action to ensure the safety and security of all who are part of or visit Phi Gamma Delta."

An online petition to ban FIJI from campus is currently circulating and has about 200,000 signatures. Many of those who have signed it say they themselves were victims of an assault at the fraternity or know someone who was.

More information:

Victim/Survivor Advocates

Women's Center for Advancement

Community Justice Center safety resources

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