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Sex offense reported at UNL's Sigma Chi house amid reckoning over Greek culture
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Sex offense reported at UNL's Sigma Chi house amid reckoning over Greek culture

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Sigma Chi

Sigma Chi on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's city campus. 

After a week of protests and calls for change stemming from a reported rape at the Phi Gamma Delta house at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a sex offense was reported to have occurred at the Sigma Chi house sometime Thursday night. 

The offense was reported to UNL police at 1:28 a.m. Monday  almost exactly a week after a 17-year-old girl and UNL student told police she was sexually assaulted by a 19-year-old member of Phi Gamma Delta, commonly known as Fiji

The latest offense was reported to have happened sometime between 10 p.m. Thursday and 3 a.m. Friday at the Sigma Chi house at 1510 Vine St., UNL police records show. 

The nature of the latest report is unclear, described in UNL Police records as "Sex Offense - other." UNL Police were not immediately available for comment. 

In an Instagram post late Sunday night, Sigma Chi announced it had removed the fraternity member accused of the sexual offense and would place the chapter on "a self-suspension." 

Deb Fiddelke, UNL's chief communications officer, said the university first learned of the alleged assault through social media, which came two hours before the incident was reported to campus police.

"It's unfortunate that a possible sexual assault was reported on social media prior to being reported to the police," Fiddelke said in a statement. "The University Police Department is now fully investigating this incident."

Fiddelke added the "self-suspension" announced by Sigma Chi on Sunday is "not an official protocol" used by the university. UNL could take its own action following an investigation.

Four days before the alleged incident, Sigma Chi had posted a statement of solidarity as protests went on outside the Fiji house, vowing to "do our part to create a safe and comfortable environment for all in our community." 

Demonstrators on Wednesday marching for the abolition of Fiji walked within steps of the Sigma Chi house as they moved in a loop around campus.

While chants through four nights of protests last week largely centered around the expulsion and prosecution of the 19-year-old member of Fiji  and the permanent abolition of his fraternity  some organizers had called for a reckoning with Greek culture altogether. 

At least three women who spoke at a sit-down gathering at the Nebraska Union on Thursday night said they were instructed as UNL freshmen to avoid Fiji, among other fraternities. 

"I’m a 35-year-old mom who never went to UNL, and even I have heard the word-of-mouth warnings about the fraternities she mentioned," Sen. Megan Hunt tweeted after speaking at Thursday's gathering. "These open secrets are a big clue." 

In 2009, a former fraternity member filed a lawsuit claiming he had been hazed for months. Another said he had been sexually assaulted during an off-campus party. The two former pledges settled with UNL and Sigma Chi out of court.

Sigma Chi was suspended for more than two years before entering a probationary period in 2011. The fraternity was suspended indefinitely in 2012 because of underage drinking at an off-campus party during its probation. It was reinstated in 2014 after "a reboot," a member of the chapter's advisory council told the Journal Star then.  

The latest incident appears to be the second reported sex offense at the Sigma Chi house since 2010. In September 2012, campus police fielded a report of a rape at the fraternity house, according to archived reports. 

There have been 104 rapes reported to UNL Police since 2005 and 78 since 2015, according to data reviewed by the Journal Star. Of reported rapes since 2015, 47 have resulted in criminal investigations, according to UNL, while 31 were reported by the university's Title IX Office through which the accusers remained anonymous. 

Three of the 47 cases were still active as of Friday  before the latest offense was reported to police. Eight of the alleged sexual offenses since 2015 occurred in Greek housing, according to UNL. 

Only one of the 47 investigations led to an arrest. 

Watch Now: Fourth night of Fiji demonstrations ends with confrontation between protesters and police
Third night of Fiji protests focuses on survivors, continues call for cultural reckoning at UNL
'I'm angry too' — UNL chancellor responds to calls for justice as new details emerge in Fiji assault case

Reach the writer at 402-473-7223 or awegley@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @andrewwegley 

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A Kansas City, Missouri, native, Andrew Wegley joined the Journal Star as breaking news reporter after graduating from Northwest Missouri State University in May 2021.

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