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Vandalism at Swarthmore frat investigated

College officials are investigating who painted "Rape Haven" on a fraternity house at Swarthmore this week.

The phrase "Rape Haven" was painted on the front of a Swarthmore College fraternity this week, and college officials said they are investigating.

The vandalism occurred at the Delta Upsilon fraternity house and was reported Tuesday morning.

"This kind of vandalism is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated on this campus," said Mike Hill, the college's director of public safety.

Fraternities around the country in recent months have been under scrutiny for incidents of racism and sexual misconduct.

The vandalism at Swarthmore comes less than two weeks after a member of the fraternity wrote an opinion piece for the student newspaper ,The Phoenix, touting the positive contributions of the fraternity.

In the wake of "deplorable behavior" at a University of Oklahoma frat in which members were caught chanting racial slurs in a video, Swarthmore College, student Nathaniel Frum wrote, "can take pride" that Delta Upsilon "has set a model that should be followed..."

"We would venture to say very few groups on campus contribute as much to the larger community as the Delta Upsilon fraternity," Frum wrote.

The frat, Frum wrote, helped sign students up for a blood drive, volunteered for a program that provides horseback riding lessons to the disabled and raised money for a program that gives food to the hungry.

It also, he said, invited a Swarthmore alum to talk on the women's suffrage movement. And the fraternity participates in annual workshops on sexual assault prevention and drug and alcohol safety, among other efforts, he said.

Frum's piece drew critical comments from several letter writers, who say fraternities tend to be homogenous groups of straight white men who don't do enough to stand up to racism and sexual assault.

"Fraternities were founded on exclusion tied to race, class and gender/gender presentation," one wrote. "Although it may seem less explicit now, they still operate under these exclusions, thus resulting in homogenous groups of white heteromasculinity. As a result, they tend to perpetuate racism, misogyny and homophobia, which is why people of color, women and queer folk often feel uncomfortable/unsafe in these spaces."

A Swarthmore College spokeswoman declined to speculate on the source of the vandalism or whether it was linked to the letter writing.

Senior Ben "Scoop" Ruxin, president of the 41-member fraternity, also declined to speculate.

"We were surprised and dismayed…," Ruxin and senior Brian Kaissi, vice president, said in a statement. "We condemn in the strongest possible terms both the act of vandalism itself and, more importantly, the message that it displayed."

Only one member lives in the fraternity lodge house. The graffiti was removed from the house by college maintenance on Tuesday.

"We truly appreciate the support we have gotten from members of the Swarthmore community since this incident and we look forward to continuing to work with the campus to create positive change," Ruxin wrote.

Asked if the college is investigating any sexual assault cases at the fraternity, a college spokeswoman responded: "Federal privacy laws prevent us from commenting on such matters, including whether there are any investigations or not."