University of Texas students call for fraternity’s shutdown amid sexual assault allegations

Southwest

AUSTIN, Texas (NewsNation Now) — Students at The University of Texas at Austin are circulating a petition demanding the city “shut down and dismantle” what they call the “rogue” social fraternity Texas Rho.

The petition calls for community members across Austin to “speak up and speak out against this group that is doing nothing but ruining the college experience for everyone else at the University of Texas at Austin.”

“I have been increasingly concerned over the lack of oversight and response to the constantly growing issues and behavior surrounding Texas Rho,” petition organizer Justice Horn said. “It is widely known both in the Greek community and around campus. I also wanted the opportunity to give a voice to the survivors and people who are afraid to speak up.”

The petition comes after an Instagram post Monday on a student’s account, saying she and her roommate were sexually assaulted by two Texas Rho members on the night of August 27.

NewsNation affiliate KXAN also reached out to the Austin Police Department twice in the last week to ask if it’s investigating the case. After no response, KXAN called APD Thursday and asked again. A public information officer responded in an email and said she was still waiting to hear back from the sex crimes unit before commenting.

UT Austin said it cannot confirm nor deny that it’s looking into the matter, however, the Department of Education and the Office of Civil Rights requires the university to investigate allegations of student misconduct involving sexual assault, which are classified as Title IX investigations.

The petition also cites public health concerns following a party on September 12. During the first football game that day, the Austin Fire Marshal’s Office shut down a large gathering of hundreds of mask-less students on Texas Rho’s property, in defiance of the city’s pandemic guidelines.

Texas Rho is a remnant of the former UT Austin chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which was shut down by the university in 2017 for hazing violations. Because Texas Rho is not an official organization, the university does not appear to have any direct control over its actions.

Administration officials said they can, however, discipline members who are UT students.

“The university takes allegations of sexual misconduct and hazing very seriously, investigates allegations when warranted, and holds students accountable for violations of university rules,” University Communications Director J.B. Bird said. “This private, off-campus residence has no affiliation to UT Austin, but all UT students remain accountable for their actions and subject to university rules and conduct proceedings.”

KXAN has made multiple attempts to contact Texas Rho leadership over the last 10 days, but has not received a response.

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