Several fraternity houses at the University of Texas-Austin were recently vandalized. “Rapist,” “racist,” and “kill frat boys” were spray-painted on at least four houses, along with a hammer-and-sickle symbol.
The self-professed “Vandals of UT” say they are responding to no specific incident but “the everyday crisis that is rape culture, white supremacy, and elitism.” Their goal is “the destruction, looting, and emptying out of these halls of power by the force of the unruly masses — the excluded and exploited,” adding that they hope to “inspire other insurgent acts.”
“Let us make it impossible for the administration and frats to simply wait out the occasional uproar, and let us constantly agitate against them and make their lives hell,” they wrote. “Let us make racists, frat bros, and the administration afraid again — afraid of students, afraid of the marginalized and harassed, afraid of the exploited and excluded.”
Of course, the local social justice warriors were quick to decry the criminal behavior and hateful rhetoric of their more radical brethren, preferring dialogue and understanding.
In an interview with the student newspaper, Mia Goldstein, the president of the campus group Voices Without Violence, said that while there were “more productive ways to handle rape culture … those who did [the vandalism] did start a conversation that’s absolutely necessary.”
Goldstein singled out the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, which came under fire after in 2015 after a Redditor posted a document that was allegedly the fraternity’s confidential rules for pledges; they included “no interracial dating,” “no Mexicans,” and “no fagetry [sic].” That same year, the fraternity hosted a party that Phi Gamma Delta described as Western-themed, but critics said was about the border patrol.
“I think with the history of racist parties and racist pledge rules and also just rape culture in general,” Goldstein said, “[the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity] especially is culpable for that, so while it’s not nice to spray paint, those are valid labels.”
Another student argued that the graffiti was simply a normal reaction to sexual assault not being taken seriously enough.
In short, victim-blaming is fine when the right victims are attacked.
The fraternities started the process of cleaning up the graffiti and moving on, and they should be applauded for it. However, with multiple riots against free speech in Berkeley and assaults on the street against those who simply disagree with Antifa activists, the fraternities have every reason to take “kill frat boys” seriously.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the school as the University of Texas—Arlington.