Hold abusers accountable

Editorial Board

On Oct. 8, University of Delaware student Brandon Freyre was charged with assaulting a female student. According to authorities, Freyre assaulted her by using blunt objects, spraying her in the face with spray paint, choking her until she was unconscious and throwing her down a flight of stairs. As soon as the University of Delaware student body heard about the appalling incident, protests were organized and students stood for hours outside of the fraternity house in which Freyre resided. It took the university four days to even release a statement — one that was only prompted by attention the situation received on social media. 

The statement from the university’s vice president of student life and interim chief diversity officer read: “We are writing to acknowledge the harm inflicted, denounce the violence reported, and call for the community to come together and advance our goals of a campus free of all violence, including gender-based violence and violence against women.” 

The silence from the university that immediately followed this brutal attack was nothing short of infuriating, yet unsurprising. Since the announcement, Freyre has been removed from his fraternity and “separated” from the university. It is important to note that “separation” from the university does not equate to expulsion. 

Gender-based violence is all too common at universities. According to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in five students report being abused by an intimate partner, and women ages 16 through 24 suffer from domestic violence at the highest rate of all surveyed groups. With October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, UTSA students and faculty must come together in support of victims of domestic violence. Students pay thousands of dollars to experience higher education; the universities they attend should be the epitome of safety, offering a sense of both security and safety. The blatant lack of accountability within the situation at the University of Delaware should be a lesson learned for UTSA. Students, especially those who identify as women, deserve to feel safe and heard by their university — and not just after a sickening incident takes place and garners the attention of the student body. Timely and appropriate responses from universities play a pivotal role in crisis management. College administrators all across the country need to protect their students by learning to recognize cries for help and taking action. 

An admirable effort by UTSA to inform students about Domestic Violence Awareness Month does not go unnoticed. On Oct. 22, a bystander intervention class will take place from 3 p.m. until 4:30 p.m., and on Oct. 28 at 12 p.m., the PEACE Center will host “Coffee and Consent.”