The Halifax chapter of Anonymous allegedly downed multiple Dalhousie University and fraternity websites over a lack of action on addressing an alleged sexual assault at a frat house.
The hacktivist group told VICE Monday that their distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks caused the Dalhousie website to drop offline last week, along with additional attacks on the websites of the university's student paper and the Phi Kappa Pi fraternity. Screenshots obtained by VICE back these claims.
"We're doing this because justice needs to be served, period," a spokesperson for the Halifax chapter of Anonymous told VICE.
"We had a Jane Doe that used to be in school, that's not in school anymore. That used to be a productive member of society, that has now turned to substance abuse. Her life is ruined while this known rapist walks the streets."
The group's attacks are in response to an allegation of sexual assault that happened in November last year at a nearby off-campus fraternity. Over the weekend, Anonymous published a video that named the alleged rapist and members of his family, reiterating a similar message from a video last year. They also published a video that included a statement from the unnamed victim's mother, who thanked Anonymous for taking action.
"Anonymous, you have tirelessly helped my family and I seek justice for my daughter. You have stood strong by us. We are forever grateful ... You have stood by us, more than anyone could. You have checked on us, when you didn't have to. You gave us hope, when we had none," the video reads.
Brian Ledbetter, director of communications at the university, told VICE that the attacks had little impact and that, contrary to the claims of Anonymous, the official Dalhousie websites were not affected.
Ledbetter also deflected claims that the university should be held responsible for the actions of the fraternity and characterized the attacks as unfair.
"What I can say to the allegations that were referenced [in the videos], neither the individual identified, nor the fraternity referenced, have direct association with Dalhousie University," he told VICE. "The university takes the prevention and the response to sexual violence very seriously. Ultimately we're committed to providing a safe and secure campus community to everybody."
Dalhousie has been under fire for over a year due to numerous incidents relating to misogyny and rape culture on campus. Last spring, the issue of a secret Facebook group of dentistry students who went to the university—in which members joked about wanting to "hate fuck" and drug female peers—blew up into a national issue as the university took (in what many deemed too much) time to discipline the students in question. Anonymous also threatened to leak the names of the group members shortly after the news broke.
In November, Halifax police told the National Post that the fraternity incident wasn't an issue the police could pursue until the victim came forward. The police noted, however, that things changed after the original Anonymous video came out, noting that it was clear the victim was ready to make a statement to police. The victim has not been named due to her being a minor at the time of the incident.
Halifax Anonymous told VICE that the university's unwillingness to accept responsibility for the issue of rape culture is wrong. The spokesperson also claimed that there is evidence of more rapes happening at the frat, but that victims are afraid to come forward.
"Pictures speak a thousand words. You can see [pictures of] the rapist sitting [at the frat], and that fraternity is connected to Dalhousie. That means Dalhousie is responsible, yet nothing is being done. There's been tons of rapes, but that last rape was the straw that broke the camel's back."
The spokesperson cited Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil's backing for a federal change to the criminal code to address sexual assault more seriously as a sign that the public on their side, and, because of that, added the attacks will likely continue.
"If the university continues to deny that there's a problem at [the fraternity], the attacks might intensify. If the police continue to let rapists walk free when they could proceed with charges...That's all I'll say."
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