Underground Greek Organizations at the Capstone?

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Sarah Brown in the Chronicle of Higher Education wrote about protests over a “a wave of reported sexual assaults, many of them in fraternity houses.” Her article “The Fraternity Dilemma” did not mention the recent protests over alleged rapes by fraternity members at Auburn University that were reported by Maria Carrasco in Inside Higher Education.

Carrasco wrote that, after a female student disclosed to police that she was raped, 500 students were involved in a protest. “During the protest, students circulated a petition asking the university to share more information about the fraternity named in the student’s allegation.”

Rapes at other universities at the time had been in the headlines.

On September 24, 2021, in the Kansas City Star, Katie Moore reported that “a student last weekend was allegedly drugged and raped during a house party at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house.”

Paige Skinner wrote on August 26, 2021 in Buzz Feed News that “thousands of students at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, have been protesting outside the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house after a sexual assault was reported.”

Chris Burt on September 21, 2021 wrote about protests over sexual assault in University Business that “fraternities again are at the center of allegations of violence, backlash across several campuses.”

On the website Students 4 Social Change, Madeline Gaeta in 2020 wrote:

Although the sense of entitlement that exists among fraternities needs to be addressed, the covering up of rape cases by both fraternities and sororities truly encourages the behavior to continue. When a case of sexual assault arises in Greek life, it’s protocol to keep it hush hush because if news broke out, the social calendar could fall apart. By keeping it a secret, the fraternities are still able to host parties, and the sororities still have events to attend. This presents an utter lack of respect for the issue at hand. Fraternity brothers are consequently taught that they can get away with such behaviors. It also invalidates the victims and says that members of the Greek community don’t care enough to make a change. Sororities hiding reports of sexual assault from their own sisters lead the victims to feel shame in what happened to them, and also creates an aura of fear around coming out and speaking one’s truth if another member of the sorority is sexually assaulted. 

In her article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Sarah Brown included statements by Gentry McCreary, “a former director of Greek affairs at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa who now works with fraternities and sororities on risk management.” According to Brown, McCreary was of the opinion that “if students persuade their colleges to abolish the formal Greek-life system, some fraternity members would simply create underground organizations that aren’t subject to institutional oversight. That would make it even harder to prevent sexual misconduct and other criminal behavior.”

The idea that banning the “Greek-life” system would produce rogue frat houses may seem farfetched. But perhaps McCreary, if anyone, would understand the dynamics of Greek life at the University of Alabama.

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), sexual violence on campus is pervasive, with 13% of all students experiencing “rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.”

In June, 2021, the University of Alabama‘s campus newspaper The Crimson White ran a series on the rape culture on campus. Ava Fisher wrote: “In seeking awareness about sexual violence, we must remember to pursue a survivor’s personal narrative, one far more complex than what has been done to them. In doing so, we stop the dehumanization of survivors and instead honor them. As we tell new stories, we set new standards for our society so that all may reclaim their own humanity.”

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