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Greek Life and the Threat of Sexual Violence

By Brooke Burnett

You’re in college, or maybe you’re going to be, and you know that sorority/fraternity life is a big part of the student body at your chosen university. You didn’t quite fit in during high school, and this is a chance to meet new people, a chance to start over. Also, you know that if you don’t go through sorority recruitment, you’ll get a bad case of FOMO until you do decide to join a chapter. As if that’s not enough, from an academic and career standpoint, sororities and the leadership opportunities within do look good on applications for jobs and grad school.

Nervous and excited, you pack your hairspray and setting powder, and off you go.

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Maybe you’re the complete opposite, maybe you couldn’t care less about the greek community, and maybe the instagram posts or loud get-togethers annoy you. That’s totally cool too, but odds are you have a friend involved or you know someone that should read this article.

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Here’s a question that isn’t too often asked or answered: Is being apart of a sorority/fraternity a no or a go in terms of sexual assault and it’s prevention? Are you safe in fraternity houses? We’ve all heard the stereotypes, greek life is a significant threat to safety of both sorority women and fraternity men. If the rumors aren’t enough, there’s statistics to back it. According to the Campus Sexual Assault (CSA) study, “over 25% of sexual assault victims on campus were sorority members.” The Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity chapter at the University of Arlington in Texas was shut down by their National Organization in 2014 after three reported sexual assaults took place in that house in less than one month.

As if that’s not enough, those are only reported cases. All too often girls are taken advantage of at fraternity house parties and it nothing is done after the fact or to prevent it in the first place. I think we should change that. Let’s play a game of pretend:

You meet a guy, let’s call him Brad. Real hot. Like hot hot. He’s in your econ class and you two get along pretty well.

 

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He probably looks something like this, or nothing like this but to you he does. (I promise this is going somewhere). He lets you know that he put your name on the list for the frat party this weekend (In college terms- this is what the kids call a big deal). You get ready with your friends and find him there at the party. You’re pretty buzzed, as is everyone else, and everyone’s dancing and having fun. But Brad gets a little too carried away as you’re dancing. He puts his hands where he shouldn’t and all of a sudden you’re uncomfortable and you don’t know what to do. He doesn’t stop when you move his hand.. Your instincts quickly sober you up and you’re not having fun anymore. Is it your fault that you’re in this situation? What should you do? You don’t want to make things awkward in class and you do find him attractive.

This situation is all too common at fraternity parties or events in general. First of all, being assaulted or in an uncomfortable situation is never your fault, ever. You should be able to dress up and have fun with your friends without having to worry about your safety. You also don’t have to be okay with situations like this just to fit in. Our mission here at Necessary Behavior is to mold a society where consent is normal and you do have a place to fit in, comfortably. Secondly, know that if he does this to you or a friend, he isn’t the type you want around any-who. Lastly... get out of there. Before you and your friends go out, you should agree that if one of you is uncomfortable that you’ll leave, no questions asked.

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There’s nothing cute or fun about sexual assault. Just because a girl or guy is “provocatively” dressed or dancing in a way that attracts you sexually, THAT IS NOT AN INVITATION TO TOUCH THEM or to make them uncomfortable. The reputation of fraternities lies solely on their standing within their national organization. National organizations don’t tolerate this kind of behavior and although frat houses are hotspots for assault, the executive members will want to know who assaulted you and they will be kicked out or dropped from said fraternity. Having sexual predators in the house is a liability for them, so know that on the national level, this behavior isn’t tolerated.

As far as sororities go, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my experience. Instead of finding shallow girls lacking aspiration, I was met with strong willed, empowered, and supported women that want to spread the girl power movement. A diverse group of people with different interests and aspirations, all bonded by the same sisterhood. If you’ve been through an assault or experience it in the greek community, I promise your sisters will be there and have the right resources to offer confidential and unbiased advice, same goes for men in the fraternity community. There are also numerous resources to look into if you’re looking to help a friend or yourself. You can find them by clicking here.

This being said, have fun on the weekends, have fun at fraternity parties. Get dressed up without the impending worry that it could attract a sexual predator. You shouldn’t have to consider your safety while deciding what to wear.

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