Greek life is almost synonymous with the college experience. Even if students are not in Greek life they often attend Greek life-related events. Due to this, the predatory nature of fraternities is often ignored, playing into rape culture that is prevalent on college campuses in general.
An easy way to see this is that, while women can get into any party they please, fraternities closely monitor and make sure few men are let in. Fraternity parties often include uneven male to female ratios, which promotes predatory male behavior and robs women of their choice within college hookup culture. This behavior can frighten female partygoers, yet women still attend due to societal pressures, as well as parties being the only place to go since there are no clubs in the area.
At one point I asked a few members of a fraternity to explain to me why they weren’t letting men in, what was the purpose of this? They said, “if we don’t know the guy, why would we let him in?” This is the only response I was given, though they also did not know most women at the party. So, what other reason is there to not let men in other than to corral a bunch of women into one place so that they can have the best chance of “getting with” them? This is especially troubling because we are on a campus that already has a large majority of women.
To be clear, there is no issue with women choosing to go out with their friends, and the high rate of sexual assault at fraternities is not to be blamed on alcohol—it is solely the fault of men who have been conditioned to take advantage of inebriated women. No matter how you’re dressed or how much you’ve had to drink, it is not your fault if you are sexually harassed or assaulted, it is solely the perpetrator’s fault.
Another issue is that the only thing that often deters fraternity members from harassing women are their male friends. It is often not enough for a woman to say stop, but a man must step in to assert the fact that she doesn’t want to have sex, essentially for her.
It is important to acknowledge this behavior when it has been found that men who join a fraternity are three times more likely to rape someone and women in sororities are 74 percent more likely to experience rape than other college women, according to the Guardian in 2014.
This is most likely the reason students are beginning to either completely push Greek life off their campuses, like in the case of Swathmore College earlier this year, or that sororities are beginning to withhold interacting with fraternities until they change their behavior, like in the case of the sororities at Cornell University this past week.
When sexual assaults occur in association with Greek life events, the school must hold these organizations accountable instead of just giving them slap-on-the-wrist suspensions which only last from a few weeks to a semester. In order for this change to be made, we as students must hold the administration accountable for not taking sexual assault situations on our campus more seriously, and that includes the forced sexual interactions that all-too-often are part of the hazing that Greek life organizations use to induct their new members.
As a disclaimer, I do not believe all men are rapists or all fraternity members are predators, but I do believe that these organizations contribute to rape culture, which is indisputable given the statistics and anecdotal evidence at this point. It is time that we acknowledge and combat this, and I hope Greek life organizations can acknowledge that as well.
Kara Burke is an international relations and communication double major junior who is very cold, both in heart and temperature.