Ending Greek Life is not the sexual assault solution

by Elpin Keshishzadeh, Opinion Editor

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Fall semester was equivalent to a season of  “Scandal,” minus some presidential hook-ups. San Diego State had its work cut out with its majority of concerns surrounding sexual assault and Greek Life.

With back-to-back public relations disasters, it didn’t take long for tabloids all across the nation to link the two major issues together — especially at SDSU. Greek Life soon became synonymous with an abundance of alcohol, which resulted in numerous sexual assault reports, leading to its current infamous reputation: Greek organizations are breeding grounds for sexual assault.

As a writer who has criticized the intentions of fraternities and sororities on numerous occasions, I’m not necessarily gushing with support; But to pinpoint a single student organization as the overbearing cause of a prehistoric world-wide issue is not only amateur, but misinformed.

It’s not to say fraternities shouldn’t be held responsible for the sexual assaults that take place under their roofs, but the long-term solution for sexual assault lies in education.

Last semester, the connection between Greek Life and sexual assault was brought into the lime light when KPBS published an article stating “Experts and Greek insiders agree that a competitive, testosterone-driven environment fueled by alcohol and casual sex is part of fraternities’ sexual assault problem.”

Frankly, you don’t have to tell me twice. We live in a society where manliness is measured by physical strength, power, wealth and the ability to get it in. But this social shortcoming unfortunately doesn’t discriminate against men who don’t represent Greek letters. Sexual assault isn’t a fraternity problem — it’s a humanity problem. Men are raised viewing sex as an achievement and society pities the woman who stands in the way.

A study published in “Violence and Gender” stated “31.7 percent of men said they would act on ‘intentions to force a woman to sexual intercourse’ if they could get away with it.” Even more disturbing were the 13.6 percent who admitted to having intentions of rapeing a woman if there were no consequences.

Now, how can anyone possibly pin this disgusting epidemic to such a small population? Sure, maybe without fraternities and sororities a few parties would be missed, and a few jello shots would be left behind; But to think the removal of Greek Life will fix issues surrounding sexual assault is adding to the ignorance that has become the backbone of sexual assault.

“I believe the absence of Greek Life will have little effect on sexual assault,” media studies senior Brandon Ikan said. “Parties will still occur and alcohol will always be present — it just wouldn’t be as organized as Greek Life is known to make it.”

Last semester, all Greek social events were temporarily banned after an incident between two fraternities and “Take Back the Night” protestors. It didn’t take long for party buses to line up on Campanile Walkway to take these events to other parts of town.

One thing is for sure: Banning Greek Life will relocate the party but the stigma surrounding sexual assault mentalities will prosper.

We live in a society where these men who were surveyed had to be given the definition of rape before they could provide an answer — all of whom were college students. That is the result of a failed education system, not a rager filled with polos and underaged college students who don’t know better.

According to SDSU Police Department reports, 13 sexual assault cases were reported last semester. Seven of these cases occurred during some sort of Greek social event. It would be misguided to claim banishing these social events wouldn’t reduce sexual assault cases — at least by seven cases. But simply removing the playground doesn’t fix the mentality that is driving this problem — it simply becomes another bandaid solution.

“To some degree the party lifestyle of Greek Life will perpetuate sex assault,” Alpha Gamma Delta sophomore Jessica Beeli said. “It’s still individual people choosing to sexually assault other people and the Greek community as a whole cannot be held responsible.”

This “party lifestyle” is also referred to as the culture of fraternities, according to KPBS. Wesley Episcopo, member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, told KPBS the characteristics of a frat party, which include loud noise, drinking, a crowd and a dark environment, all add to the environment most prone to sexual assaults.

Although it may be true that frat parties, or parties in general, create a safe and familiar environment for perpetrators, the real problem lies in prehistoric way of thinking.

Episcopo, the same fraternity member who understands why the environment of a frat party could be prone to sexual assault, told KPBS it’s important for members to understand even if girls are dressed a certain way at a party, they “…might not feel as if they are being slutty. So we teach [fraternity members] that’s someone’s sister, that’s someone’s daughter, that’s someone’s best friend.”

They might not feel as if they are being slutty? These fraternities throw parties with themes such as “CEOs and Office Hoes” and now it’s considered progress to have mercy on these girls who might not know they’re being slutty?

This is the same damaging mentality that places sexual assault on the large scale it’s now on. This is the same prehistoric point-of-view that allows for 31.7 percent of college-educated men to act on forced sexual intercourse if they could get away with it.

The lack of education individuals have about sexual assault outweighs any other avenue simply posing as a temporary solution. Schools need transparency and education so students are aware of their actions — when young men don’t know what constitutes sexual assault that’s not a failure on Greek Life, but a failure on our education system.

 

Be sure to check out Anthony Berteaux’s opposing argument here.

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