Holding signs that read “I believe the survivor” and “Safety is a human right,” more than 100 protesters marched along fraternity row Saturday to speak out against campus sexual assault.
The march — which came two days after University President Eric Kaler announced increased prevention efforts — included survivors, advocates and fraternity members, and comes amid increased attention of sexual assault at the University of Minnesota and its greek life system.
“This isn’t just about women, it’s about toxic masculinity and how pervasive that is within the fraternity system,” said Sarah Super, organizer of Saturday’s event and an advocate for survivors.
University students Abby Honold and Maria Gilbert and graduate Kayla Pederson spoke about being sexual assaulted by fraternity members and gave their support to others at the rally.
“There is a clear problem in greek life when a man known to have committed sexual misconduct is elected president,” said Pederson, a University graduate who was sexually assaulted by a member of Delta Upsilon as a junior.
Delta Upsilon was suspended last month by its headquarters for allegations of sexual assault, among other reasons.
Some fraternity men marched in their greek letters, including University Interfraternity Council President Simon Beck and members of Alpha Epsilon Pi, which suspended a member for allegedly assaulting a pledge in January.
Former DU member Dawson Kimyon — who alerted the chapter’s international representatives about issues of sexual assault at the house — said it would take action from fraternity members to ignite a culture change within greek life.
“We’re going to need true allies on the inside because you guys have the privilege of making change from the inside out,” Kimyon said.
Besides recent allegations of sexual assault by some fraternity members, the march follows an increase in the number of sexual assaults reported to the University.
It also comes in the wake of a sexual assault scandal involving Gophers football players.
Kaler announces prevention efforts
The University will increase efforts to combat sexual assault, President Eric Kaler announced Thursday.
The changes — announced at Kaler’s annual State of the Univeristy address — include required training for faculty and staff, a public awareness campaign, additional training for students after their first year, a campus-wide survey focused on campus sexual assault and the creation of a committee to advise Kaler on sexual misconduct issues.
Kaler said the changes, which follow other changes the University has made in recent years to how it handles sexual assaults, were recommended by a working group formed earlier this year.
“We all know that even with these actions, we will not eliminate sexual misconduct on campus,” Kaler said Thursday. “But what we can do is stand firm on our values and effectively articulate the behaviors we expect and the culture we want to create.”
Max Chao contributed to this report.