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How can we counter sexual misconduct in Greek life?

greek life




How can we counter sexual misconduct in Greek life?

Stop Treading, Start Swimming

Siena Casale


Why does it feel like we are treading water that is unmovable?

It begins with your friends hollering, “You can’t go sober to a frat party” in your room to another yelping “You’re not fucked up enough” at the pregame to the last barking “Take another pull” while holding a handle of vodka to your mouth in the middle of the dance floor.

It has become customary to hear about college students, both men and women, becoming so intoxicated that they don’t remember their night the next morning. The problem lying in the uncertainty of what they have done and what has been done to them. This problem habitually brushed off and unnervingly laughed at: blamed upon the pressure to drink, the miscalculation of shots, and the mere environment. I can personally speak for this over-consumption through the number of groans I have woken up to on Friday mornings from my roommate’s headaches or incomplete accounts I have heard of unruly nights not wholly remembered or amount of times I’ve simply been asked...

“But really, what happened last night?”

Our world is imperfect and people can lose their vision of rectitude or morality in these times where intuition is impaired, covered in alcohol and a number of other substances. The overconsumption of alcohol and lack of caution, especially when drunk, is at its peak in the college sphere.

Even though most don’t begin the night with the thought of pursuing wrongdoing, when shadowed under the influence, unanticipated events can occur. These wrongful actions are heightened by the college environment and push for sex in particular which is not addressed or handled in a manner anywhere near proficient.

Once a year at UCLA the members of both fraternities and sororities are mandated to attend a “Sexual Assault Presentation”: a 2-hour lecture on topics mostly involving consent – what it means to give and hear consent and where the boundary is marked crossed. But, each year, after attending and hearing reviews, I have noticed students, mostly females, are left unsatisfied, upset, and unheard – the perpetual feeling of misinterpretation and apprehension still present. This dissatisfaction may be due to the fact that students are placed in an enormous hall next to their friends, phones in hand, listening to yet another lecture (after hearing a few that morning) from a bystander’s view lending biased and outdated information on a culture she is not a part of.

Misconduct directed towards both male and female students is ubiquitous at almost every college across the United Sates. What is each campus, IFC, and the student body doing about this? How can we fix this incredibly unjust and prevalent problem in a way that leaves students satisfied and safe?

We must stop treading and start swimming.

Although this cavernous problem will not have one simple fix, we must start somewhere. Begin by severing the vice before it cultivates, at its root - at the student’s freshman year.
A few weeks ago I visited my twin sister at UC Berkeley, a campus where assault is incredibly vocalized. This problem was acted upon and the school has begun to address it: beginning with the addition of the “Consent Speech” which assesses what consent is and where boundaries stand. Each fraternity is required to teach and learn the speech to be able to give it to each person who enters their party.

The boy guarding the door of the fraternity explained to me that all the pledges had to learn and give the speech on a rotation at every party. My first perception was that pledges should not be the only ones at the door (merely because the older members didn’t want to), but as I thought about it more, it was ideal that they were.

Freshman year is the time where education, especially on right and wrong in terms of sexual relations, is most crucial. When plopped in this novel college environment where there is an incredible push to “gain numbers”, students become misguided in their own intuition and take action in ways they would otherwise see as unethical. By forcing new members to hear this speech into their everyday routine they are obliged to realize what they are being taught, both consciously and unconsciously. The speech targets the beginning: educating both men who learn, and women who hear, before the manipulation of surrounding pressures and imprudent ignorance sets in.

We need to start implementing actions, such as this Consent Speech, that direct change and don’t leave students floating in a scope of insecurity and unease. Although this process will take time and doesn’t have one simple resolve, it’s a necessary start.