UMN student co-op’s rape culture signs spur mixed reactions

Interfraternity Council has been in talks with the co-op to take them down.

Hand painted signs sit in-front of the Students' Co-Op on Monday, March 20, 2017. Members of the greek community are frustrated with the tone and content of the signs.

Carter Jones

Hand painted signs sit in-front of the Students’ Co-Op on Monday, March 20, 2017. Members of the greek community are frustrated with the tone and content of the signs.

Samir Ferdowsi

Residents of the University of Minnesota’s Students’ Cooperative began placing signs in their front yard at the beginning of spring semester with phrases like, “frat boys: stop raping people.”

Members say the displays — located on University Avenue’s fraternity row — have drawn concern from greek life members and gratitude from survivors.

In February, the Interfraternity Council contacted Student Unions and Activities, which set up a meeting between co-op and fraternity leaders. Ultimately, SUA found the signs violated no University policy.

“It’s making them uncomfortable, which is a step in the right direction. We wanted to physically disrupt the wall of frats,” said co-op resident Addy Alms.

IFC President Simon Beck said he and other student group leaders discussed ways to end sexual violence on campus at the meeting.

“The IFC and the Student Co-op Club share the same goal,” he said in an email.

He said in the email he had received numerous concerns from fraternity members that “focused on the overgeneralizing and accusatory nature” of the signs.

Meanwhile, multiple passersby have come to the door to express enthusiasm for the signs, the cooperative’s co-president, Mallory Mitchell said.

“We have a lot of folks that walk by and talk to us. A lot of women especially are happy to see the signs,” said co-op resident Haleigh Ziebol. “We’ve gotten comments on Facebook about how people are so happy to see the signs.”

Co-op and fraternity leaders plan to meet again, and co-op residents are drafting demands for the fraternities to meet before they take the signs down, Ziebol said.

“The signs are catalysts to start a dialogue,” said Mitchell. “Rape culture is the fraternities being more concerned with their image than with the fact that part of their membership is committing acts
of sexual violence.”