Greek Life: Fraternities, Sororities, and Sexual Assault
The father of rapist Brock Turner once argued over his son’s prison sentence, claiming that six months in jail is a “steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.” Perhaps Brock’s sister, Caroline, had never been sexually assaulted or harassed in the past because if she had, her father would have understood that those 20 minutes can be equivalent to a lifetime for a victim.
Or perhaps, even more disturbingly, she has been sexually harassed but never reported it, a member of the 95 percent that do not report sexual assault in college. I wonder whether Brock would have acted the way he did, had he believed someone had committed any similar act of cruelty to his own family, but alas, that is not the point. There is a far bigger picture than Brock Turner and his underwhelming sentencing. He is only a brushstroke in a massive portrait of the sexual harassment, assault, and rape that results from Greek life on college campuses.
As a college student, and more importantly, one with a lovely mother, girlfriend, and two wonderful sisters, I have grown increasingly disturbed when I hear any of them talk about what they have faced as a woman. Now that I am attending a university as a full-time student, I have heard similar stories from every female I have discussed such issues with on campus.
They tell me about how they can feel the unwanted gaze of men looking upon them, and how it makes them feel like a wild animal captive in a zoo. They tell me about which fraternities they are taught to stay away from – even which members victimize young women most often, and how they have been or have almost been a victim themselves.
This terrifying reality is not bound entirely to the realm of anecdotes, either; instead, a quick bit of research yields that fraternity members are 300 percent more likely to commit rape than their non-Greek brothers. Kaitlin M. Boyle, a professor at Virginia Tech, also found that fraternity members are more like to utilize alcohol on victims, as well as verbal coercion, threats of violence, and physical abuse on women than any non-fraternity brother across college campuses.
At this junction, it becomes clear that fraternities are dangerous for women, and promote sexual assault throughout the entire American college institution. However, like an iceberg hiding the majority of its mass deep below the water’s surface, rape and sexual assault are often kept outside of the public eye, hidden deep within the structures and inner workings of American society. None of these structures are as prevalent and concerning as Greek life.
Now, one must understand that I in no way am attempting to claim that all fraternity members are predators, nor that all sorority sisters will be victimized (although research shows that this is more likely to happen compared to non-Greek life members). Instead, I seek to prove that the culture of Greek life is inherently flawed, and as a result of this, fraternities produce a significantly higher number of sexual criminals, and sororities encourage a lack of safety and misjudgment within many of these occurrences.
As to why Greek life is so viciously predatory for women, I believe it to be a combination of factors. Perhaps one is the binge drinking and drug use habits that permeate these organizations across college campuses. Perhaps another is that having a group of college-aged men gathered together is not always the best idea (try looking into the Stanford Experiment if you never have). Perhaps the larger culture of misogyny that already looms over America, a dark cloud exponential in its growth, can also share some of the blame. But none of these should shoulder more of the blame than the rapists and perpetrators of the acts themselves (and especially not the victims of such sexual violence, despite Americans’ inclination to do so).
It seems that college campuses should only maintain one course of action to put an end to this systematic violence that is enacted upon young girls. During what is perhaps their most vulnerable time, as they are in a new place, possibly away from home, and getting used to being an adult, 1 in 5 of college females will be raped (additionally, I have always found the phrasing “to be raped” peculiar, as if it is some sort of gift or bestowment).
Almost 830 days have passed since Brock Turner’s unjust and unlawful sentence was revealed. As approximately every two minutes that pass in America, a woman is raped, that would mean that roughly 591,120 women have been victimized since the day of Turner’s conviction. As bliss as ignorance may seem, it is only so until one of the important women in one’s life becomes a part of this group. So, how long will we let this issue persist? How long are you willing to wait until your mother, daughter, sister, or nephew becomes “Jane Doe?”
The Greek life institution among college campuses requires only a singular form of radical change: its removal. Systematic sexual violence and assault have no place among what is supposed to be a fresh start and introduction into adulthood for many. Let us not take adulthood to mean a loss of innocence in such a literal way. The only way to put an end to this violence is for colleges to realize that Greek life is dangerous and often devastating for young women. Therefore, perpetrators of sexual assault and rapists should be prosecuted as such, and America and the college education system should make every effort to minimize this issue, regardless of whether that means putting an end to a historically elitist, discriminant, and hazardous institution.
DISCLAIMER! The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The College Post.