APD searching for suspects in frat house vandalism

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Photo Credit: Mary Pistorius | Daily Texan Staff

The Austin Police Department released a “Be on the Lookout” notice in an effort to identify the suspects in multiple vandalisms that occurred at several West Campus fraternity houses last week.

The fraternity vandalisms started last Monday morning when the words “racist” and “rapist” were graffitied on three stone pillars outside the front gate of the Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) fraternity house. The vandalism continued last Tuesday morning when the Pi Kappa Alpha house was vandalized with the phrase “kill the frats.” The same black graffiti appeared on the Kappa Alpha and Kappa Sigma houses Wednesday afternoon, when phrases such as “up security like Fiji did” and “hang rapists” appeared on both houses.

Since the incidents were reported to the University last week, APD and the UT Police Department have been working together to identify the vandalism suspects. APD’s notice includes surveillance video from the Kappa Sigma house and surveillance photos from the Kappa Alpha house. Both incidents occurred between 4:30 and 5 a.m, according to the surveillance images.

“The investigating detective … specifically reached out to officers who work that particular area to make them aware of that incident,” APD Officer Destiny Winston said. “That way, when or if they have extra time between calls, they can go through the West Campus area and have a high presence in order to deter anyone who might possibly want to vandalize the property there.”

UTPD could not be reached for comment.

UT President Gregory Fenves released a statement last Tuesday on the West Campus vandalisms, saying the University “will not tolerate vandalism and threats targeting our students” and that an investigation by the Dean of Students was
in progress.

Neuroscience freshman Paula Mofor criticized Fenves’ statement and said the University has not done enough to improve the safety climate on campus, especially after Fenves released a System-wide sexual assault study last month that found 15 percent of female undergraduates had been raped since their enrollment at UT-Austin.

“I understand vandalism is illegal, but the rape culture propagated by that fraternity is rampant and the rape and sexual assault on this campus committed by our own students cannot be ignored,” Mofor said. “Since Fenves tweeted about the 15 percent rape statistic, we’ve yet to see action. The safety climate, while I can’t say there’s skyrocketing incidents of physical violence, is poor.”

Business sophomore Colin Christopher said the incident highlights the University’s need to help the community, specifically female students, feel safer on campus.

“As a straight black male, I’m generally not at risk of anything like rape or assault, but this shows just how unsafe many women on this campus feel,” Christopher said. “It’s an outrage that women feel scared to walk home alone at night or go out and enjoy a night of drinking without being taken advantage of. We’re prioritizing the safety and security of some over others and this can’t go on.”

Communication studies sophomore Samantha Gamboa said the vandalism has opening up further conversations about safety on campus.

“The fact that stats come out and say 15 percent of women have been raped makes me feel unsafe,” Gamboa said. “I’m glad someone is getting a conversation started about this topic, even if it’s in a more controversial manner.”