Nearly three years ago, I took issue with the apparent lack of radical political momentum among students of our generation. I was proven wrong earlier this week when thousands of student activist took to the streets to protest against the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at the University of Kansas following a reported drugging and sexual assault.
The presence at first was temperate, with private security working to keep protestors off the lawn of Phi Kappa Psi’s fraternity housing; however, with private security greatly outnumbered, activists marched to the front door.
It is not the active protection and obscuration of perpetrators that is viewed as violent. Nor is it the defense of private property escalating to the degree of pepper spraying protestors — an act that carries the risk of extreme physical trauma and potentially death, especially in the midst of a pandemic affecting people's respiratory function; rather, what is truly “violent” is damaging property estimated to be worth over 2.5 million dollars.
The university must immediately realize we are living, breathing and hurting people. While it is often efficient for the university to view us as numbers on a balance sheet, they must acknowledge our pain. Should university administation not address, from the highest levels, the festering, untreated wounds of rape culture and selective policing present at the university, then students and community members will be forced to amplify our voices with the weight of media presence and occupation tactics.
These protests are the culmination of untold decades of rage and incalculable violence against women. 26% of undergraduate women report having experienced sexual assault, yet only four students in 2019 were disciplined for sexual misconduct.
Before any end to our outcry, the university must publicly exemplify their commitment to sexual assault prevention and justice. The statement our administration released is sympathetic, but without clear changes to the university’s sexual harassment education and sexual misconduct procedings, it rings hollow.
This dedication to the status quo is merely a commitment from the highest levels of the university to support a system of opacity that continues to aid and enable perpetrators of sexual assault while attempting to sedate the now present resentment to that very system. The university administration and those associated with Greek life ought to understand the cost for protecting perpetrators is higher than its worth. These protests displayed that.
To those who continue to blockade, pepper spray and threaten protestors in defense of perpetrators of sexual assault, you will be met with a more dedicated crowd of protestors than before seen.
Remove all fraternities perpetuating rape culture. Anything less is a disgrace, not only to KU, but to our collective humanity.