Hundreds of University of Colorado Boulder students surrounded the Pi Kappa Alpha House Friday night to protest recent sexual harassment and demand accountability from fraternity and campus leaders.
The Boulder Police Department has received two reports of sexual assault of women at a fraternity home in the 1000 block of 12th Street, one in late October 23 or early October 24 and the second on October 31.
“Both are in the early stages of investigation. The department takes all such reports seriously and is unable to release further details at this time without compromising the integrity of the investigation,” department spokeswoman Dion Waugh said in a statement.
While the department did not identify Pi Kappa Alpha in its statement, new Morgan Hughes said her friend’s home was attacked on Halloween night.
Hughes, freshman Selena Powell and other students organized protests to raise awareness about sexual harassment on campus.
“We want to send the message that this is not okay,” Powell said. “I think over and over 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, holding signs and chanting before marching down Broadway and Euclid Avenue. Police estimated at the scene that 500 to 600 people surrounded the Pai Kappa Alpha House, also known as the Pike.
The surrounding streets were blocked off by police cars, and the fraternity house was barricaded and blinded, but the students spent more than an hour chanting messages of accountability, justice and humiliation. surrounded the building.
Several demonstrators threw their signs at the fence and, at one point, some broke down the fence, which was re-installed by police officers. As it got dark, the students used their phones as flashlights to light up the house.
Campus leaders sent a letter to students this week outlining how the university handles sexual harassment and the resources available through 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 Len Pomeroy, interim associate vice chancellor and Title IX coordinator.
“Sexual assault has a devastating effect on victims, survivors, and our entire campus,” she continued.
Powell and Hughes said they want Pike to be held accountable for the attacks.
“We want to show students and survivors that people are ready to fight for them,” Powell said.
Freshmen Mickey Sullivan and Bianca Rubini-Tapernoux decided to participate in the protest because they wanted to show their support. He said he was horrified to hear about the sexual harassment on campus.
“The first week I came here, I ordered pepper spray, and all my friends have pepper spray,” Rubini-Tapernoux said. “It should not happen.”
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 Mark Stein issued a statement earlier this week, saying the IFC on the Hill would continue to cooperate with the university and police investigations.
“We condemn inappropriate sexual conduct and when evidence of such conduct is presented we take action with a member chapter in terms of our constitution and bylaws,” the statement said.
Resources for survivors of sexual assault
To contact the Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) 24-Hour Hotline, call 303-443-7300 or text BRAVE at 20121.
To file a police report, contact the CU Police Department for on-campus incidents at 303-492-6666 or the Boulder Police Department at 303-441-3333 for off-campus incidents.
Additional student resources are available at colorado.edu/dontignoreit.