University of Texas officials have confirmed that two victims who were injured as part of a deadly knife attack last week are not affiliated with any of the university’s Greek organizations.
The new details come as students’ fears begin to abate after unsubstantiated rumors that the stabbings were targeting Greek organizations ran rampant last week. The rumors were fueled by a series of acts of vandalism in April, the horror of the May 1 stabbings and a false report of another attack targeting members of Greek organizations.
Harrison Brown, the first-year student who died in last week’s attack, had pledged the fraternity Phi Delta Theta, but opted to withdraw before officially joining, according to campus Greek life officials.
Another student, Stuart Bayliss, a member of Lambda Chi Alpha, was badly injured in the stabbing. Two other people who were also injured have not been identified yet, but UT officials said Tuesday they were not affiliated to any fraternity or sorority.
“Everyone was saying, ‘If you’re wearing Greek letters, turn your shirts inside out.’ … Right when (the stabbings) happened, there was so much chaos,” said Caroline Meeks, a UT freshman with the sorority Alpha Phi.
“I honestly still don’t know what’s true or not,” Meeks said. “There were a lot of rumors.”
There is no evidence that the man accused of the May 1 stabbings, Kendrex White, targeted members of fraternities or sororities while on his rampage near UT’s Gregory Gym. None of the victims of the attack were wearing any clothing that would indicate they were members of fraternities, nor did there appear to be any motive for the attack beyond White’s possible mental health problems, UT Police Chief David Carter has said.
However, fears of violence against Greek organizations found apparent voice once again Monday after a flyer appeared in student-dominated West Campus urging fraternities to form safety squads under the headline: “FRATS BASH BACK.”
University officials said Monday they were aware of the flyer, but were skeptical that students were involved. The West Campus neighborhood is patrolled by Austin police, who have not commented on the flyer.
Peter Stanley, vice president of communications for UT’s Interfraternity Council, said the group was not responsible for the flyer.
“The flyers were not generated by the Interfraternity Council or — to our knowledge — anyone in the fraternity and sorority community,” he said. “We deeply respect Harrison’s memory and have sought to provide support for his family; we would not use his memory to spark debate.”
Rumors of more violence also spread like wildfire after a UT student falsely reported he had been stabbed while defending a woman in the West Campus area hours after the May 1 stabbing. People in fraternities and sororities began to disseminate information that the woman might have been in a sorority. This woman turned out to have not existed, police said, because Lewis Yarbrough, the man who was stabbed, later told police that he had accidentally stabbed himself and made the whole thing up.
Yarbrough admitted to police he filed a fake report to cover up the fact he cut himself “playing with” a knife while “preparing” for a “riot or attack” on his fraternity after police reported the stabbings near Gregory Gym.
Meeks said many people involved in UT Greek life have been on edge since mid-April, when four fraternity houses were vandalized with graffiti. UT President Gregory L. Fenves condemned the vandalism after it happened.
Austin police released video footage of the vandals and are seeking the public’s help to track them down.
“We have been in close contact with the Interfraternity Council to hear and respond to their concerns,” UT spokesman J.B. Bird said. “This is a very important subject for us.”