Students must have heard by now that the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life mandated a “social moratorium” on all IFC, BLGC, and PHC organizations. On April 10, SGA launched an investigation of those governing bodies, as well, in response to “overwhelming student disapproval.”
What is going on in Greek life these days? I don’t mean just at West Chester, although our school isn’t exempt, either; Greek life across the country is seemingly in shambles.
The hits just keep coming, particularly against fraternities. The brothers of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at Oklahoma University got slammed for participating in a racist chant. Alpha Delta at Dartmouth is being investigated for allegedly branding their pledges. Using racial slurs, a member of Kappa Sigma at the University of Maryland urged members not to invite women of certain races to their rush parties, and signed off on the email by telling brothers to “f**k consent.” And of course, everyone has heard about the chapter of Kappa Delta Rho (KDR) at Penn State that is suspended for posting partially clothed or naked photos of women on Facebook.
Meanwhile, at our own school, a WCU student was arrested on charges of rape, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, and unlawful restraint after he allegedly sexually assaulted a woman at a KDR house party, the investigation of which is still ongoing.
As a female student at West Chester, this kind of news is both upsetting and frustrating for me. I wonder if part of the problem lies in the fact that our judicial system seems to be more interested in alerting the student body that a crime has taken place rather than in protecting the victims. But I digress. We have so many resources at WCU regarding prevention and education about these kinds of incidents, and yet, they keep happening anyway. At a school like West Chester, where we all had to attend workshops and seminars during freshman orientation about the importance of consent and of acceptance of all different kinds of people, it doesn’t make any sense. The Women’s Center is one of the most active offices on campus, and their Men in Action discussion group is dedicated to “mobilizing men to end sexual and gender-based violence against women.” The Office of
Multicultural Affairs also lists 22 multicultural organizations on campus. So my question for all of us is, if the resources are there, why aren’t we using them?[pullquote]It needs to change all of it. When we’ve reached a point that real life is halfway to a scene from ‘Animal House’ we know we have a problem. Furthermore, the responsibility does not lie solely with the Greek organizations.[/pullquote]
I don’t doubt that the overwhelming majority of men and women involved in Greek life are upstanding people who care about philanthropy and friendship and campus unity. In fact, despite admittedly not being a member of a Greek organization, I genuinely believe that is the case. But I can’t help but wonder, if I’m correct, why is Greek life across the country under such scrutiny?
I think the answer lies in the prevailing culture of Greek life. The “frat party” attitude combined with the perceived invincibility of fraternity brothers and sorority sisters creates too many opportunities for misconduct. The members of these Greek organizations have a community of brothers or sisters who will protect them and cover their tracks, because that’s what siblings do. And whenever alcohol is involved, it makes for a lethal combination.
It needs to change, all of it. When we’ve reached a point that real life is halfway to a scene from “Animal House,” we know we have a problem. Furthermore, the responsibility does not lie solely with the Greek organizations. As a student body, it is up to us not to accept the kind of behavior that has become so prevalent on college campuses. Putting our own safety at risk or being a bystander while a friend or even a stranger drinks enough to blackout in a stranger’s house is perpetuating this troubling behavior. All of us need to make a change.
That being said, some of the responsibility inevitably lies with Greek organizations as well, particularly if they’re the ones hosting the party. It seems to me, after all of the scrutiny of late, Greek organizations nationwide have no choice but to do damage control, but I’m optimistic that it will be more of a culture shift than just damage control. I was very happy to learn that a group of fraternity men within IFC are committed to making a change. Several of them have reportedly attended an eight-hour bystander intervention training session hosted by the Women’s Center. In light of all of this turmoil surrounding Greek organizations, it’s comforting to know that students at WCU are already moving in the right direction.
Clare Haggerty is a fourth year student majoring in English. She can be reached at CH757342@wcupa.edu.