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Photo: Kiera Span/Instagram
The University of Delaware has been in the spotlight of late for the wrong reasons. Photos: Kiera Span/Instagram

How one TikTok lit the University of Delaware ablaze over domestic violence

The kidnapping and assault of an unnamed female student flew under the radar until the world’s newest social media giant got a snippet of the story.

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. According to a 2016 study from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in five female undergraduate students have experienced some kind of sexual assault while in college. 

Protests have broken out all over the University of Delaware’s campus following the arrest of a 20-year-old student for kidnapping and strangling an unnamed female student in an off campus incident that occurred on Friday, Oct. 8. 

Kappa Delta Rho fraternity member Brandon Freyre was arrested by Newark Police on Friday and charged with kidnapping and assault in the second degree, strangulation, terroristic threatening, and criminal mischief, after a dispute with a female student, according to a press release from the department. 

According to a TikTok video of the protests, which has now gone viral, the female student was beaten, sprayed in the eyes with spray paint, and thrown down the steps.

Police say that the female student got into a verbal altercation with Freyre that stemmed from a rough breakup and turned violent due to her attendance at a rival fraternity party. 

During the argument, Freyre damaged the victim’s property, strangled her to the point of unconsciousness, and threatened to kill her if she contacted authorities. 

Charging documents also noted that the assailant’s roommates were home at the time of the attack as the victim screamed for help, begging for it to stop. 

After being thrown down a flight of stairs, the victim was able to escape and call the police. 

A few local news stations reported on the assault, but it did not gain national attention until University of Delaware sophomore and organizer, Kiera Spann, posted footage from Tuesday afternoon’s protest. 

The demonstrators began marching at Freyre’s fraternity house, Kappa Delta Rho, where according to her TikTok, Freyre’s friends “sat by and laughed.” The demonstration ended on the campus’ Main Street. 

About 100 people attended the protest, holding signs that read, “Protect Women,” “Being a victim of violence shouldn’t be part of the college experience,” and “Real men hold each other accountable.” 

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Spann says she heard about Freyre’s arrest through a text message from a friend days after it occurred, and that no one on campus received any safety notifications that the assault occurred. 

“Everybody was outraged by the fact that the University had said nothing, even though it was committed to and by a University of Delaware student,” Spann said. 

In response to the incident, Kappa Delta Rho issued a statement on social media condemning the violence, saying that as soon as it was made aware of the attack, it notified the appropriate campus authorities and permanently expelled Freyre from the chapter. 

In the days after the assault, Spann was frustrated by the lack of response from the university on social media. Instead, it posted generic content, such as sun-drenched photos of campus, which were bombarded with angry comments from people asking why there was no public acknowledgement of the assault. 

Spann posted her video around 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 12 and it racked up more than 600,000 views in a matter of hours. It wasn’t until 8 p.m. that night, more than four days after the initial incident occurred and after Spann’s video went viral, that the University of Delaware issued a public statement. 

“We are writing to acknowledge the harm inflicted, denounce the violence reported, and call for our community to come together and advance our goals of a campus climate free of all violence, including gender-based violence and violence against women,” the university said.

Spann believes the statement was “too little, too late,” and already had a follow-up protest on Wednesday evening with 500 students in attendance. 

 “The fact that they don’t seem to care about the safety of their students and instead cover it up until it becomes a national issue shows that they care a lot more about their reputation than us,” Spann told Rolling Stone

In a follow-up TikTok, Spann updated her followers, saying that the victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, is “safe and alive” and grateful for all the support. 

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