Swarthmore College officials voiced their disappointment Thursday over the graffiti -- "Rape Haven" -- painted across the stone wall of the Delta Upsilon fraternity house. The vandalism comes as scrutiny of Greek life behavior around the country grows, and only a year after the local school implemented new strategies to improve its handling of sexual assaults.
"Vandalism of any kind is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated," said Liliana Rodriguez, associate dean of diversity, inclusion, & community development, and Mike Hill, director of public safety, in a joint statement to students. "The matter is currently under investigation."
On Tuesday, college maintenance crews removed the graffiti, which appeared on the wall of the DU house earlier this week.
Only one member of the 41-person fraternity lives in the house.
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms both the act of vandalism itself and, more importantly, the message that it displayed, " Brian Kaissi, the fraternity vice president, said in an official statement to The Phoenix, Swarthmore's independent campus newspaper. "We truly appreciate the support we have gotten from members of the Swarthmore community since this incident and we look forward to continuing to work with the campus to create positive change."
Less than two weeks before the phrase "Rape Haven" appeared on the wall, a member of DU wrote an op/ed for The Phoenix titled "The merits of Swarthmore's Delta Upsilon" that listed the fraternity's positive contributions to campus.
College officials declined to comment when asked if Swarthmore is investigating any sexual assault cases related to DU, citing federal privacy laws.
Swarthmore came under fire in recent years after student's complaints on the school's treatment of accusers in sex assault cases surfaced. The college announced plans for education and prevention efforts, as well as initiatives to better track and analyze cases last January.
On Thursday, school officials reiterated their commitment to creating a harmonious environment, while acknowledging the challenges of that goal.
"Building a community is not an easy task," the joint statement said. "It takes a genuine effort from all members. One of the commitments we need to make, to reach that goal, is to treat one another with the respect and dignity that all people deserve."