Greek Life across the country has recently been in the spotlight for several alleged cases of sexual assault linked to fraternity houses and alcohol. Some of these cases have become very well-known among the media including the instance of gang rape at the University of Virginia which resulted in the probation of their Greek life.
These cases have put our community and culture in a negative lighting and led the public to believe that Greeks are more focused on the party rather than the diploma. Several of these alleged events have led to investigations by officials of certain universities. The New York Times recently published an article, “Sorority Anti-Rape Idea: Drinking on Own Turf,” last Tuesday over the whether or not sororities should be allowed to have alcohol in their own houses to decrease the number of sexual assaults. Several women in the article claimed that they would feel safer and would be better able to monitor situations than they would at a fraternity house. While it may be true that drinking in the comfort of your own home would feel safer than at an unfamiliar fraternity house sexual assault can happen in any location.
Drinking and parties are the same anywhere you go. It’s the people who lead to dangerous encounters like rape with or without alcohol. The article claims that many women have said they have felt unsafe being in unfamiliar surroundings where exits are unknown and doors are found to be locked. Throwing parties in a sorority house would be no different than a group of girls going to a fraternity house, honestly it may be worse. The ideals of sorority life do not revolve around party monitors, pledge driving and providing alcohol for boys.
Sorority houses are a safe environment for girls to have a place to call home. If girls want to feel safer going to parties without feeling like they are going to be attacked then the only solution would be to better educate their members. The article mentions but does not really focus on any of the girls educating their members or how to react to these types of situations. If girls want to feel safe, then it is important for chapter leaders to talk about never leaving a girl behind, being familiar with surroundings and knowing limitations with alcohol consumption.
Adding alcohol to a sorority chapter only increases the safety issues within the home, and encourages girls to drink even more because of the comfort with their surroundings. Most of the girls in the articles also discussed how they felt unsafe around the men in the fraternities. When alcohol is involved in these situations sometimes things can get out of control for both guys and girls. In these incidents usually men are blamed for instigating the assault. One girl in the article stated, “at parties it’s more of a hunting ground… sometimes it feel like the lions standing in the background and looking at the deer,” nowhere in the article does it mention girls being too intoxicated.
While it is true in some cases that women are taken advantage of, these assaults are not a one sided deal. Girls have sometimes have no respect for fraternity house rules by showing up already intoxicated, expecting to be taken care of by fraternity members and being left behind by other sisters. It takes respect, proper education and understanding from both sides to protect members of all chapters from sexual assault from happening.
Sexual assault should not be an issue within Greek Life. In order to put a stop to alcohol related instances members of both IFC and PanHellenic need to educate members on how to avoid situations like the ones described above. The answer to this problem is not changing the location of the party, its changing how the people respond and think about these situations.