Fraternities Disband After Leaked Documents Revealing ‘Rape Attic,’ Racism Spark Student Protests

Swarthmore College fraternities Phi Psi and Delta Upsilon dissolve after anonymous leaks showed disturbing behavior from 2013 to 2016.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

Two fraternities at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania have disbanded following the leaking of troubling internal documents which spurred on-campus protests.

Campus fraternities Phi Psi and Delta Upsilon both dissolved this week after an anonymous source provided campus publications with “historical archives” containing documents, including meeting minutes, as well as photos and videos dated from 2013 to 2016 that point to disturbing behavior in the organizations’ past.

In one copy of meeting minutes from 2013, obtained by the campus publication Voices, an unnamed Phi Psi member referenced Delta Upsilon having a “rape tunnel” and “rape attic.” Other meeting notes reference sexual encounters at parties, and use racist and misogynistic language. Photos and videos contained in the archive show fraternity members kissing and groping women who do not seem aware that a camera is present, according to Voices.

Other leaked documents reference hazing, according to The Phoenix campus paper.

Following reports of the leaked documents, campus groups began protesting the fraternities, with a number of students staging a sit-in at the Phi Psi house on Saturday and demanding that both chapters disband and that their frat houses be given to marginalized campus groups, CNN reports.

One student at the protest told The New York Times that she was sexually assaulted as a freshman by a Phi Psi member and that the campus community had long known about the existence of the “rape attic.”

Both chapters have since been dissolved, with Phi Psi saying in a statement Tuesday night that they were “appalled” and “disgusted” by the “unacceptable” content in the leaked documents and stating that it led them to “question our affiliation with an organization whose former members could write such heinous statements.”

“We cannot in good conscience be members of an organization with such a painful history,” their statement, shared via Facebook, reads.

“Since the start of our membership, we made it our mission to improve the culture and perception of Phi Psi. Unfortunately, the wounds are too deep to repair, and the best course of action for all those involved is to disband the fraternity completely and give up the fraternity house,” their statement continued. “We condemn sexual violence, racism, homophobia, misogyny, and discrimination in all of its forms, and we will continue as individuals to work to create a campus where these issues are eradicated completely. We hope that our decision will help the campus achieve transformative justice for those who have been harmed and promote institutional healing.”

Delta Upsilon released a similar statement shortly before Phi Psi, announcing their unanimous decision to disband, as doing so “is in the best interest of the Swarthmore community.”

“We hope that our former house will provide a space that is inclusive, safe, and promotes healing,” their statement reads.

Campus officials publicly condemned the leaked fraternity docs shortly after they were published, and launched an investigation into the behavior of the chapters’ current members, adding that all fraternity activities would be halted during the probe.

Psi Phi released an earlier statement to “wholeheartedly condemn” the content in the leaked archives, stating that it is “not representative of who we are today,” and claiming, “All our current brothers were in high school and middle school at the time of these unofficial minutes, and none of us would have joined the organization had this been the standard when we arrived at Swarthmore.”

Following news that both fraternities had been shut down, student protestors outside the Delta Upsilon chapter chanted “Our house,” as seen in video shared on social media by one campus publication.

“DU and Phi Psi have disbanded in a testament to the power of survivor-led student organizing and direct action,” protesters said in a statement Tuesday night and obtained by CNN. “They made the right decision, even as the College refused to. Our work is not finished yet.”

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