University of Colorado Boulder students protest sexual assaults at fraternity

Hundreds of University of Colorado Boulder students surrounded the Pi Kappa Alpha house Friday night to protest recent sexual assaults and demand accountability from the fraternity and campus leaders.

The Boulder Police Department has received two reports of females being sexually assaulted at a fraternity house in the 1000 block of 12th Street, the first late Oct. 23 or early Oct. 24 and the second on Oct. 31.

“Both are in the early stages of investigation. The Department takes all such reports seriously and are unable to release further details at this time without compromising the integrity of the investigations,” department spokesperson Dionne Waugh said in a statement.

While the department did not identify Pi Kappa Alpha in its statement, freshman Morgan Hughes said her friend was assaulted at the house on Halloween night.

Hughes, freshman Selena Powell and other students organized the protest to raise awareness of sexual assault on campus.

“We want to send the message that this is not OK,” Powell said. “I feel like time and again these things happen, and it’s really sad — we’re basically trying to send a message that sexual assault is not part of the college experience.”

Students gathered on campus before marching down Broadway and Euclid Avenue, holding signs and chanting. Police at the scene estimated 500 to 600 people surrounded the Pi Kappa Alpha house, which is also known as PIKE.

Surrounding streets were blocked off by police cars, and the fraternity house was fenced off and blinds drawn, but students surrounded the building for more than an hour chanting messages of accountability, justice and insults.

Several protesters threw their signs over the fence and, at one point, a few people briefly broke through the fencing, which was set up again by police officers. As it grew dark, students used their phones as flashlights to illuminate the house.

Campus leaders sent a letter to students this week outlining how the university handles sexual assault and resources available through the campus, including support, advocacy and counseling.

“I think it’s really encouraging to see our students using their voices to talk about this incredibly important topic,” said Llen Pomeroy, interim associate vice chancellor and Title IX coordinator.

“Sexual assault has a devastating impact on victims, survivors and our campus as a whole,” she continued.

Powell and Hughes said they want to see PIKE be held accountable for the assaults.

“We want to show students and survivors that people are willing to fight for them,” Powell said.

Freshman Mikieh Sullivan and Bianca Rubini-Tapernoux chose to attend the protest because they wanted to show their support. Hearing about sexual assaults on campus makes them feel scared, they said.

“The first week I got here I ordered pepper spray, and all my friends own pepper spray,” Rubini-Tapernoux said. “It shouldn’t be this way.”

The Interfraternity Council on the Hill, which oversees PIKE and other fraternities not affiliated with the university, declined to comment for this story.

Greek Advocate Marc Stine provided a statement the organization issued earlier this week, which states that IFC on the Hill is and will continue to cooperate with the university and police investigations.

“We deplore inappropriate sexual conduct and when presented with evidence of such conduct we take action with a member chapter within the context of our Constitution and Bylaws,” the statement said.

Resources for sexual assault survivors

To contact the Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) 24-hour hotline, call 303-443-7300 or text BRAVE to 20121.

To file a police report, contact the CU Police Department for on-campus incidents at 303-492-6666 or the Boulder Police Department for off-campus incidents at 303-441-3333.

Additional student resources are available at colorado.edu/dontignoreit.

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