Action Project: Opinion

Greek life needs to take a more serious look at assault

Greek organizations need to improve their internal views of sexual assault in order to change.

Image By: Katie Scheidt

College campuses continue to boast horrifying statistics on sexual assault even with programs in place to help educate incoming students about how to identify and prevent high-risk situations in which sexual assault can occur. Representing a disproportionate percent of reported sexual assaults are Greek organizations on campus; longitudinal studies show fraternity men are three times more likely to commit sexual assault than other college men. 

As a man involved with Greek life at Madison, this statistic absolutely disgusts me and, like so many others, leaves me wondering what we can do to combat this. One in four women have reported experiencing sexual assault on campus and a majority of these cases report the assailant to be under the influence of alcohol. As a notorious drinking college, it’s no surprise that alcohol seems to play into the statistics regarding sexual assault. However, alcohol is not the only factor in the rising number of sexual assaults on campus, rather a history of misogynistic culture within fraternities takes a huge role in the degradation of women on campus. 

There has been an effort by the university and student organizations to bring awareness to the problem of sexual assault specifically within the Greek community. For example, there is a course offered titled Greek Men and Violence Prevention that is offered to men in fraternities. There are other organizations like We’re Better Than That that educate students about the dangers of sexual assault and violence and offer prevention techniques. Though these programs are a good step, they do not help promote anti-misogynistic ideals within individual Greek houses. 

Men in Greek communities at UW-Madison must make a wholehearted effort to protect potential victims by making sexual assault a serious issue within each chapter. It is easy for people to laugh at a joke taking a shot at women; however, it takes more bravery to stand against hate speech of any kind. Once sexual assault is actually taken seriously by each chapter on this campus, I would foresee the number of sexual assault reports to decline. I would advise chapter executive board members to take a zerotolerance approach to this issue and consider revoking membership and reporting perpetrators to the university. 

Though the statistics are frightening, I think it goes without saying that this is a blanket statement and does not mean that every person in Greek life is a bad person. The Greek community is filled with brilliant and innovative people. There are even leaders and activists who are a part of Greek life. So while I understand that Greek life represents a large sum of these statistics, let us not forget to give every single person the time of day and prove who they really are. 

Change will never happen if there are voices in the Greek community speaking against our cause. If misogyny is the popular opinion of a chapter, I believe the university and the chapter’s executive office need to look at the morals and fundamental standards of the group. We as a community must take a look in the mirror and stop blaming non-Greeks for being biased toward us; truth is, statistics don’t lie, and there might be a reason why Greek life can be so frowned upon. Above anything else, people need to learn to respect and honor other people’s wishes and feelings. By taking an introspective approach to battling sexual assault on campus, Greeks not only have the numbers but the passion to remove this evil from our beloved school.

Gary is a sophomore majoring in communication sciences and disorders, as well as linguistics. How do you think the university’s Greek life system could best combat sexual assault? Please send all comments, questions and concerns to opinion@dailycardinal.com

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