The Runner Debates: Fraternities & Sororities: The Con Side

KPU Doesn’t Need a Frat, and Neither Does Anyone Else

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Caution: This article discusses sexual assault.

The backbone of fraternities is friendship, and that’s lovely. Student morale is indisputably important. It’s an attribute that KPU is notoriously lacking in, and in that regard, a frat house on-campus might do us some good.

What’s equally important, though, is being realistic about what it means to have them in the middle of neighbourhoods and academic settings. In the sleepy suburbs of Surrey, Richmond, Langley and Cloverdale, where our beloved KPU campuses reside, volume control would be a problem for civilians, as it has been for families living in the Greek Village near UBC.

KPU professor Aaron Goodman talked to CTV News about his struggles with living in the Greek Village, saying that he has made “umpteenth calls” to the RCMP with nothing to show for it. It has become such a severe bother for Goodman that he claims to CBC that the frat noise is “making life unbearable” in his own home.

It doesn’t seem likely that the grandparents, small children, and high school students that populate most of those areas would be keen on staying up until the crack of dawn to the sound of screaming, intoxicated frat boys. Honestly, it doesn’t even sound infinitesimally appealing as a teenage girl.

Unfortunately, noise isn’t the only issue with fraternities. Actually, it’s one of the least serious.

At this point, it’s well-known that sexual assaults are committed in frat houses more so than anywhere else on campus—usually on women and by men. That statement opens up a deep, dark rabbit hole that frightens me as female university student, and the statistics don’t offer any comfort.

Assorted studies—mostly from the US—have yielded these conclusions: men in fraternities are three times more likely to rape than those who aren’t, and they become more likely to do so the longer they spend in the house. One in five female students will be sexually assaulted within their first four years spent at school—numbers stated in a separate study as between 19 and 27 per cent of all college women.

That means that when girls walk into a frat party and feel like they’re on a hunting ground, there’s an awfully big chance that they’re right. When we refuse to leave our drinks or go to the bathroom alone, we’re following generations of advice from those who had to learn the hard way that they weren’t safe on their own campuses, with their own peers.

Often, rapes and assaults are pawned off as alcohol-fuelled fun or tipsy confusion, but it really shouldn’t matter if the assaulter is sober or not. What does count for something is the attitude that supports it and continues to stoke the flames that burn innocent victims, and booze and drugs only represent a tiny fraction of that story.

Fraternities are a symbol of an antiquated system, one that separates the two sexes socially and physically, encourages mob mentality, and allows men with skewed opinions about boundaries and respect to band together in solidarity. After all, frats only started fully accepting non-white members in the sixties, so it’s not shocking that some are at least partially fuelled by privilege and bigotry today.

Fraternities have always been for the absolute elite, and they can do what they will with that power. In a house of their own, with their friends, protected by their university and rearing to use substances as a scapegoat, they have a hefty safety net to break their fall. It’s free reign to do something wrong. It’s Purge mentality. Consider that Brock Turner, a rapist who was exposed on international news, hardly even got a sentence. If he can get away with it with eyewitnesses, personal accounts, and millions of people calling for his punishment, then why wouldn’t some nameless guy at a party?

People join fraternities to make friends, have fun, and do embarrassing and sometimes unmentionable things in inebriated stupors. While the same goes for sororities, women don’t have the historical and societal power that men do, and often, they don’t possess equal physical strength. That makes it difficult for them to take their irresponsibility to a violent place, and even more challenging to be supported by others who commit the same crimes.

When we force our eyes open and get over the possibility of being called a wet blanket, fear monger, or social justice warrior, frat house culture stops looking so cool. From where I’m standing, it actually looks pretty dismal.

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