Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Should we shut down fraternities?

Chloe Angyal over at Feministing just wrote an article about Caitlin Flanagan's piece (warning for date rape) over at the Wall Street Journal on why we should shutter fraternities for the good of young women. Caitlin Flanagan has a couple of good points-- she talks about a girl who was drugged and gang raped, and the Yale debacle of Delta Kappa Epsilon's "No means yes, yes means anal" that has led to a court case against the university. However, as Chloe says, it's not just about fraternities:
Yes, date rape happens at frat houses. It also happens at marching band parties, and at crew training camp, and in ROTC barracks and at chess club away meets. This is not to minimize what happens in frat houses or to tell women who have suffered sexual violence there that their experiences don’t matter. It is simply to say that sexual assault happens all over college campuses. And that’s what we need to change.
It's absolutely true that the atmosphere of fraternities is likely to lead to rape-- when you have a lot of guys trying to prove their masculinity, in a house that doesn't just encourage drinking, it requires it, and a lot of young women being plied with alcohol,  you're going to have a higher incidence of rape. But you can't just say to close the fraternities and all these women will be safe. Until you get rid of the atmosphere on the entire campus, you're going to have people raping others.

Furthermore, Chloe discusses the problem fraternities often have with the men involved, too. On our own campus, Sigma Alpha Epsilon was just shuttered in response to hazing allegations-- among other things, pledges were beaten with broomsticks, forced to drink regurgitated water with goldfish in it (why did this come back? I thought that frats torturing goldfish died in the 60s!), and pay for strippers, which to me is sexual harassment. Not only did University of Michigan ban it, as UM has no respect for Greek houses that haze, but the national branch of Sig A E has disbanded the local branch for a year as well. It's irresponsible to look at these problems and see only the women hurt by it, though the numbers are overwhelming. Something nobody seems to understand about feminism is that we don't want women to be better than men--we want the patriarchy dissolved because patriarchy hurts men too. For more information on this, I highly recommend Keith Edwards-- he came to speak at UM and I loved every second of his lecture.

Finally, I don't think frats have to be bad. Beta house recently came back to UM's campus after being banned, but it's distinctly trying to change. It's a dry house, and the president is making all of the members attend SAPAC training and genuinely attempting to make his house safe for everyone involved. How is dissolving fraternities better than that? Additionally, I think that, in the right hands, fraternities can create a sense of community among young men that is essential for building a better environment for everyone. We don't have to get rid of fraternities, but we need to get rid of the dangerous atmosphere that is destructive to young men and women alike.



  1. Dear Briana and other readers,

    I am one of the founding fathers of the newly established Beta Theta Pi fraternity. I would like to first thank you on behalf of Beta for the humble recognition you have provided us with. However, I think it is my duty to clear something up, which may actually please you. As Beta Men we are not forced or made to do anything by our president. In fact, members of Beta value many of SAPAC's principles and agree with many of your goals. For that reason, many brothers including myself have showed initiative as well as eagerness to work with SAPAC. We all hope to gain a better understanding on how we can become an avenue for change and social justice and know that in order to educate our campus we have to begin with ourselves. Simply put, we all have the common goal of making positive change on this campus and that is what has brought us together as a chapter. Keep up the good work, we look forward to working more with you in the future and PROUD TO BE A BETA!

    Ali Nasrallah
    VP in Member Education
    Beta Theta Pi

  2. proof that beta is AMAZING ^^

  3. Sounds like the only fraternity experience you have comes from watching National Lampoons movies...