UMass students rally again, calling for action on sex assaults

  • UMass students walk by Theta Chi, a fraternity at UMass that had extensive damage to property including broken building and car windows after a riot Sunday night over anonymous allegations of sexual assault at the fraternity . STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 9/21/2021 7:48:18 PM

AMHERST — For a second consecutive night, University of Massachusetts students rallied outside a fraternity Monday, with some using a megaphone to recount their experiences of alleged sexual assaults and other incidents they claim have not been addressed by the administration.

The protest outside Theta Chi at 496 North Pleasant St. was largely peaceful, in contrast to daytime and evening demonstrations Sunday that led to smashed windows, vandalized cars and a damaged fence at the fraternity house.

Protesters have been spurred by an anonymous complaint of a sexual assault that occurred at the fraternity, though no formal complaint has been filed with the university or law enforcement.

During the day Monday, students also conducted a sit-in at the Whitmore Administration Building.

The Student Government Association responded to the protests by urging students to support the Survivor’s Bill of Rights, which it calls “a sweeping policy change that improves the university’s response to sexual assault … and overall breaking the pattern of inaction that has plagued the university’s response for decades.”

The email it wants students to sign onto describes sexual violence as a continuing epidemic at UMass.

“In light of recent events, it is beyond imperative that there is action taken to support and protect survivors of sexual assault and harassment at UMass.”

UMass spokesman Edward Blaguszewski said the university has created several trainings focused on preventing sexual assaults that are built into the student experience.

In 2014, adding onto work done by the Northwestern district attorney’s office, UMass created the UMatter initiative to create a more caring and compassionate community by encouraging all students to be “active bystanders,” whether dealing with sexual assaults, alcohol or drug abuse, as well as harassment, bullying and intimidation.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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