Protesters Call for Removal of the University of Iowa FIJI Chapter

Following sexual assault allegations, over 2,000 students gathered outside the University of Iowa Phi Gamma Delta fraternity chapter, some breaking windows and spray painting the house.

More than 2,000 protesters gathered on the sidewalks and in the street on Ellis Avenue outside the University of Iowa Phi Gamma Delta chapter house on Tuesday. Members of the fraternity, commonly known as FIJI, face sexual assault allegations.

Before the official start of the protest at 8 p.m., people holding signs lined the sidewalks, and a neighboring fraternity handed out water. The house, which had been graffitied earlier in the day, stood with a few lights on and blinds drawn.

Chants of “F— FIJI,” “Rapist,” and “Protect our girls,” sprang back and forth up and down the block before the crowd began inching closer to the chapter house. A few protesters left the crowd to approach the house. Some broke windows with rocks, knocked and banged on the front door, threw eggs, and graffitied the house’s sides.

A group broke down the FIJI house door and went inside, reemerging with the fraternity’s composite, a framed collage of photos of the chapter members. The house’s mailbox and security cameras were also damaged, and cars were flipped over.

The crowd began moving to the 700 block of Iowa Avenue around 8:30 p.m., where members of the fraternity were rumored to be staying during the protest. A few protesters stayed behind while others left their signs on the house’s front lawn. The house on Iowa Avenue was also damaged, with people throwing rocks and a few protesters standing on the roof.

The UI is the second university to have its students protest a FIJI chapter. The allegations come just days after the University of Nebraska-Lincoln FIJI chapter also came under fire for sexual assault allegations. UNL students have protested for days to abolish the chapter, which has had multiple sexual assault allegations, according to The Daily Nebraskan. UNL has suspended its FIJI chapter while an investigation takes place.

In a statement released on Monday via social media, the UI’s FIJI chapter wrote that sexual misconduct is treated with a zero-tolerance policy by the chapter and that any individuals who have proven themselves incapable of exemplary conduct have and will be expelled.

“The members of our chapter want to make a firm stance that sexual misconduct will always be found, rooted out, and justly dealt with in our community,” the statement said. “We advocate thoroughly for any and all measures that will serve to further create safe circumstances for every individual regardless of race, sex, or gender.”

Before the protest, protest organizer and UI first-year Amelia Keller said the UNL protests helped spur the movement at the UI forward.

“I think it almost inspired and made us feel energized in the sense that this can be something big,” she said. “This is something people care about, and it’s such a similar story of what happened at Nebraska’s FIJI, it would almost be remiss of the University of Iowa students — we have sort of a responsibility to have a similar movement here.”

An online petition describing an alleged sexual assault that took place at FIJI in September 2020 has reached over 80,000 signatures as of Tuesday night.

Keller said she wanted the protest to work as a step to remove the chapter from campus.

“I’m super excited for tonight, I’m super excited for it to hopefully spark some change at the University of Iowa and how we handle assault on college campuses, in general. But I do see this as a first step,” she said. “It’s great for people to show up and it’s great to show our support for the victim and for systemic change, but what we really need to see is that concrete change from the University of Iowa admin.”

In a message to the university, Dean of Students Angie Reams and Executive Officer and Associate Vice President of the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Liz Tovar decried sexual assault and urged people with information on the allegations to come forward in order to start an investigation.

The two noted that the Office of Institutional Equity investigations and police investigations are separate. The message also said the university plans to release an update to its anti-violence plan in September.

“The University of Iowa does not condone sexual misconduct of any kind and takes every allegation seriously,” the message stated. “To proceed with an investigation, the university needs anyone with information and evidence to contact the Office of Institutional Equity.”

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