Fraternity rape cases and drugging accusations have spurred nationwide protests the last two months at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., University of Nebraska-Lincoln and countless other colleges. The protests, sometimes drawing crowds of hundreds of students, have been at predominantly large universities, which are known to have Greek culture intertwined with the college experience.
At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in late August, outrage of rape allegations at a Phi Gamma Delta house shut the fraternity down for good. A month later at Virginia Commonwealth University, a student was killed in a hazing incident for Delta Chi. Just this past Sunday at Northwestern University, over a dozen students claimed that they were drugged at two separate fraternity parties.
The discussions are not only about the disturbing rape and drugging allegations. For many students, Greek culture itself represents a huge problem. There is a feeling among many students that a culture of extreme drinking, drugs, sex and hazing has dominated fraternity life on many campuses. The concern is that fraternities encourage excessive alcohol and drug consumption, which often leads to poor judgement.
“A lot of students on campus want to see the fraternity completely abolished,” Rebecca Evans, a sophomore at the University of Iowa, told The New York Times. She runs a group on campus that supports sexual assault survivors. They’ve reported an increase in attention following movement such as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter.
Fraternity spokesmen see it differently, however, reporting that they are being “labeled for a problem that is frankly much larger than a fraternity issue.”
“We have our challenges no doubt, just like the governors of states, just like people who are in media, just like pro athletes, just like entertainment,” said Judson Horras, president of the North American Inter-fraternity Conference, the largest gathering of national fraternities.
Horras claimed that rape culture is a national problem. “You report the incident immediately because we want to have a culture of openness and accountability of individuals,” he said he tells fraternities.
However, many college students are not buying Judson Horras’ redirection. Katie Robertson, a freshman at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass), said that her class is “more radical” than those before her when it comes to the ‘Abolish Greek Life” movement.
“People are conditioned to be ‘Oh, that’s how it is, that’s college culture,’” Katie Robertson said. “My generation is a lot less tolerant of things that have happened in the past.”
“Whether it be girls who have experienced sexual assault at a fraternity party or Black Americans with the police, both of these groups have been violently targeted in different ways,” said a fellow-UMass student, 21-year-old senior Shivali Mashar. “For a long time, this has been swept under the rug.”
Mashar was present at last Sunday’s protest in front of the Theta Chi building, where she spoke about how she was once drugged at a fraternity party. Luckily, no harm came to her that night. “Not every girl is that lucky,” she said.
As reported by The Cut, men in fraternities are three times more likely to commit rape than non-Greek students. For women who engage with Greek life, they are also 74% more likely to experience sexual assault.
When University of Nebraska shut down Phi Gamma Delta indefinitely after rape allegations in August, students wanted to make sure that the fraternity could never see its doors open again with massive protests. Protestors later that night didn’t trust the investigation, especially since so many donors at big state universities are former fraternity brothers and sisters.
Students at the demonstration said that there would be protests every night until “they move the letters, letter for letter, off [of] this house.”
Do you think that fraternities are creating the problem on college campuses? Or do you believe that rape and drugging incidents are caused by excessive partying, in general? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.