Almost a week after the alleged assault perpetrated by Brandon Freyre, university President Dennis Assanis released a statement to condemn gender-based violence on campus. Assanis’ statement followed up on one released on Oct. 12 from José-Luis Riera, vice president of student life, and Fatimah Conley, interim chief diversity officer.
“The University of Delaware has no tolerance for gender-based violence,” Assanis wrote, “And we strongly condemn it.”
The statement followed a series of protests, during which students criticized Assanis for his delayed response.
“I also want to acknowledge that while the University’s operational response was immediate, our community outreach following the incident was not as timely as it could have been, thus regrettably creating a perception that our campus is unsafe,” Assanis wrote. “We simply did not live up to our aspirations, and we all want to do better.”
The protesters have released a list of demands, encouraging action from the university.
“We, as a student body, feel unsafe, scared, and at-risk on our campus right now,” sophomore and protest organizer Kiera Spann wrote. “Due to the lack of safety protocols and enforcement, too many domestic violence, sexual assault, and gender-based violent incidents have gone unreported, and have not seen their day in court.”
The demands include a requirement for students to complete the Everfi Alcohol and Sexual Assault Modules to participate in a Greek organization on campus, enforcement of the University’s Code of Conduct against complicity, the introduction of leadership positions on fraternity leadership boards that “focus on women’s and student[s’] safety,” the installation of blue lights around the City of Newark and that “fraternities and organizations on the University of Delaware[’s] campus … implement both education and speakers.”
“We believe that some of these changes could also be incredibly beneficial in being implemented at other universities and colleges around the country,” Spann wrote.
According to Assanis, the university will create a task force of “external specialists and internal stakeholders” to “suggest best practices and recommendations to improve [its] management of all efforts pertaining to safety, crime and sexual violence in the future.”
Assanis also detailed the actions the university is currently taking such as “meeting with student leaders,” offering a conversation to students hosted by the university’s Center for the Study & Prevention of Gender-Based Violence, a “Teach In & Listening Session” hosted by the same group on Oct. 19 and an increase in programming to “learn and raise awareness.”
The statement also said that the university is collaborating with the University of Delaware Police Department (UDPD) to enhance “the current ride program on campus to improve response time,” provide “new offerings for the safe transportation of off-campus students” and implement an “active assessment of campus areas that can benefit from enhanced lighting.”
At the time of this article’s publication, many of the protesters’ demands remain unanswered.