Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Students call for administrative action against Poobah

Students gather at the Brew on Thursday, Feb. 20 to discuss what they want administration to do about Phi Omega Phi’s misconduct during rush weekend, Feb. 7-9. Photo by Kevin Donovan

More than 20 students gathered in the Brew by the Slough today, Feb. 20, to discuss actions they wish to be taken by Augustana College administration against the fraternity, Phi Omega Phi (Poobah), whose members showed a slideshow during a recent rush event that included the breasts and buttocks of several Augie women.
Following the release of an apology statement written by the fraternity, Junior SophiaRose Brown organized the discussion through the GroupMe chat, “Sexual Assault Awareness,” that was originally created in April 2019 to coordinate a protest against rape culture at Augustana. 
“My ultimate goal is removing Phi Omega Phi from campus because I personally think if this has happened over and over again and they haven’t learned, they don’t deserve a spot within Greek Life,” Brown said.
The meeting lasted about an hour. Topics included alleged past Poobah behavior, dissatisfaction with past administrative responses and the perpetuation of rape culture.
“At the end of the day, Title IX and the administration claim to be on our side,” senior Elise Campbell said. “They say that what they want is to protect us and I think that we should hold them to it.” 
Senior Kathryn Clark works for admissions and said that two years ago, when Margaret Gros (‘18) filed a Title IX report against Phi Omega Phi, employees were sent an email stating that they were not to answer any questions about it on tours, and were only allowed to refer to five talking points listed in the email.
“For all prospective students, Augie shows ‘Oh we’re a welcoming community, we’re a safe community. We all care for each other,’ and then turn around and let this happen year after year for how many years,” sophomore Brandon Suydam said. “It honestly makes me wonder, does the administration truly care about us or their reputation?”
First-year Dianne Haar said that she intentionally did not attend a different college because of the rape culture at the school, and chose Augustana instead.
“It just makes me not want to leave my dorm at night,” Haar said. “And if I do, have a group of guy friends that I know I can trust with me.”
By the end of the meeting, the group elected a few individuals to meet with Deans Wes Brooks, Laura Schnack and Jessica Schultz to make them aware of their desires. Schnack and Schultz both serve as Title IX Coordinators. 
“I’ve always had this belief that I want to leave Augie better than when I came here,” senior Brian Martinez said. “I think the lower classes should continue to make sure their voices are heard about this issue. If it continues, like it has been in the past, I just think that students should continue trying to make this change.”
An hour after Phi Omega Phi released their apology statement, a petition to remove the group from Augie Greek Life went live on Twitter. It has since gained 1,293 signatures. 
Carly Davis and Natalie McMillan contributed to this story.

Senior Brandy Mathews reads from a copy of The Observer during a student meeting to discuss what students want to change in regards to the Phi Omega Phi fraternity on Thursday, Feb. 20. Photo by Kevin Donovan

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Students call for administrative action against Poobah