Kent State fraternity’s banner in support of sexual assault awareness lands them in trouble with city

KENT, Ohio-- One Kent State University fraternity's banner, which is a stance against sexual assault, is landing them in hot water with city leaders.

"This week is anti-hazing and sexual assault awareness week at Kent State University," said Kyle Austin, the chapter president of Delta Tau Delta.

Austin says he can't understand why the fraternity's sheet sign hanging outside their chapter house is so controversial. Written in black and red spray paint, it reads, "Consent Matters #kNOwmore Sexual Assault." The chapter president says the owner of the home since 1950 received a call from a city official stating the banner was a code violation.

"Our first thought was like, 'Why? Why now?' We've had multiple banners up throughout the past semesters and have had no problem with that."

Chapter members say they want the community to know their fraternity house deeply believes sexual assault awareness matters.

"We're not going to take this and we are going to leave this up and you can't silence us for standing up for what is right," said Michael Trauman.

The city manager, Dave Ruller, released the following statement to FOX 8:

"As a college town we get a lot of sheet signs appear at the start of semesters. Our sign rules are "content neutral" so sheet signs have to be removed within 10 days regardless of the message that is written on them."

Ruller says the tenants were given a warning, after receiving a complaint about the sheet sign. The city's community development department states fraternity members were told to remove the sign within 10 days, which tenants at the time agreed to take down before then. The fine for failing to do so could be upwards of $100.

A department official says the fraternity does not have a temporary sign permit and their sheet sign is bigger than 40 square feet. A permit would cost $25 and then the sign could be displayed for several weeks.

The neighboring Alpha Tau Omega fraternity has a similar sheet sign that reads, "Hazing Don't Do It." However, the chapter says they have not received any calls from city officials urging them to take down their sign.

"We want to strive to make everyone better and the fact that the city of Kent is just not doing that, not giving us support is really disheartening," said Nicholas Lemay of Alpha Tau Omega.

It's a message some Kent State University alumni say is refreshing to hear from young men during this #MeToo movement.

"I came here in 1961 and at that time the Delta fraternity had a pretty bad reputation as a party fraternity, and I'm very impressed now that they've come this far," said Jean Booth, who supports the banner.