Greek life exposes a trend of sexual assault

Fraternities have a reputation for participating on campus by hosting different events and also contributing within the community. Unfortunately, that dream image is being overshadowed by a daunting reality: a pattern of sexual assault. This has been going on for years and is unacceptable.  

This is not to say that Greek life is the root of all evil. In fact, for many current and future college students, Greek life is both an honor and a privilege. It comes with perks — such as involvement with campus life, the opportunity to make many new friends and encouragement to do well on classwork.

Supply chain management junior Alysha Carter said that while she is not involved in Greek life, it looks like fun.

“They are a unit, they are always together,” Carter said.

“Fraternities seem really manly, but kind. They do a lot of hard work because they have to portray a good image and do a lot of community service.”

Despite these good qualities, the wild, care-free, party lifestyle glorified in fraternities has caused several issues. Fraternities and other branches of Greek life are no strangers to controversy. The media has consistently shown the wide range of problems with fraternities such as hazing, binge drinking and sexual assault. Some fraternities have even faced lawsuits and extended suspension on campus.

According to MSNBC, fraternity men are 300 percent more likely to rape than non-fraternity men, and sorority women are 74 percent more likely to be sexually assaulted than other college women.

According to The Huffington Post, Three James Madison University Sigma Chi fraternity members sexually assaulted an intoxicated woman over Spring Break of 2014. The fraternity brothers filmed the assault and uploaded the video on social media.

After the horrific incident occurred, the men were punished by being expelled after they graduated, causing much uproar and criticism over the “lax punishment.”  If fraternities are going to continue on college campuses, they need to be regulated and properly punished by the university as well as law enforcement.

According to The New York Times, in just the past few months, fraternities have been suspended or put on probation at the Universities of Tennessee, Connecticut, Illinois and Mississippi, as well as at Kent State, Emory, Lehigh, Cornell and Northwestern Universities, among others.

Fraternities have a long history of positive and negative incidents. The combination of excessive alcohol intake, partying and intoxicated students may sound like the typical college experience..

With this typical college experience comes the reality of lack of consent. According to Campus Safety Magazine, at least 50 percent of college student sexual assaults are associated with alcohol use.

One of Yale University’s fraternities, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, was suspended this month for violating the school’s sexual misconduct policy. While suspended, the fraternity is not allowed to communicate with Yale nor use its name in connection with Yale until August 2016.

The fraternity spokesman, Brandon Weghorst, told The Associated Press that they have ordered sexual assault and harassment prevention training for all members. Even though alcohol is a major factor in the sexual assault incidents, it is not completely to blame for the behavior of the students.

While it would probably do fraternities good to implement some type of policy to regulate alcohol consumption at their events, it shouldn’t have to come down to harassment prevention training or alcohol consumption regulations — it just has to come down to human decency and respecting fellow humans and their boundaries.

Of course, some Greek supporters may argue that it is impossible to put the blame for sexual assault on particular group. That may be true, but sexual assaults are continuing to happen with a large portion of these assaults happening at Greek functions.

However, this does not excuse other organizations that may entail excessive drinking and lowered mutual respect. All campus organizations — not just members of Greek life — are an extension of the university they attend. Therefore, they should be regulated and continue to be held accountable.

It is never acceptable to invade someone’s personal space without their permission. Greek parties don’t have to stop happening, but mutual respect needs to be acknowledged and enforced.

Opinion columnist Faith Alford is a journalism sophomore and may be reached at [email protected].

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