Sexual assault on college campus is rampant to the point where one in five women will be sexually assaulted in their college careers (Valenti). Unfortunately, this statistic only goes up when it comes to Greek life on University campuses. The Greek culture on campuses varies between colleges, but the statistics remain the same. Men who join fraternities are three times more likely to commit rape and women who are in sororities are 74% more likely to be raped (Valenti). Slogans like “No Means Yes and Yes Means Anal”, a fraternity at Georgia Tech sending an email with the subject “Luring your rapebait”, or a Weslyean fraternity given the nickname of “Rapefactory” (Valenti) are just some of the examples of how Greek Life can foster a dangerous sexual assault environment. A study conducted in 2005 by CNN found that “greater ease and comfort in situations where women are being mistreated was also positively correlated with alcohol use and fraternity affiliation” (Loh).
With the recent #MeToo movement and the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, women have more than ever been coming forward with their stories about sexual assault/harassment. If street harassing counts as sexual harassment I would say that every woman in the United States has been sexually harassed. This is daunting and very infuriating, so what can we do better?
First, let us start with Greek Life on college campuses. Like in most circumstances the perpetrators are often the minority, equally for fraternities, that does not mean they are no longer part of the consent conversation. Greek organizations on college campuses have a unique ability to speak out against sexual assault, but are they doing enough? There is a rule in Greek culture that sororities are not allowed to have parties. This means that the fraternities are the ones who are having the parties. This then means that fraternities control the guest list, what alcohol is served, and the fraternities members know the location well. This gives fraternities 100% of the control when it comes to drinking and being safe.
While this may seem like a small rule to change, it can be a big help. As a current sorority member, it is daunting going into a party with alcohol, in a new house, full of drunk people and in an environment that might not always be safe. Enabling sorority women to control their own parties would change the power dynamic within Greek Life. Putting parties into the hands of women who are the majority sexually assaulted simply makes sense in changing the conversation.
Additionally another simple action that Greek Life can take would be to screen the documentary, Hunting Ground. Hunting Ground is a film that depicts the sexual assault and Title IX horrors on college campuses. This film creates and exposes an amazing dialogue that college campuses need to have in order to educated and curb sexual assault. Since it has been proven that Fraternity members are more prone to commit sexual assault, why not educate all members? Why not show Greek Life members this film?
If you are a victim of sexual assault, you need to seek help. There are a lot of resources in DC and nationally that you can reach out to. In terms of legal assistance, DC Student Defense is here to help. DC Student Defense is qualified and will help you through the legal process.
These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.