Why Ending Greek Life Is Not The Answer To Campus Assaults

by Sophie Nelson

It has become an all-too-familiar story in which a university has suspended Greek life after a pattern of appalling scandals.

Last week, it was West Virginia University, which was forced the stop all fraternity and sorority activities indefinitely after a medical emergency and a series of arrests led to the death of a student.

This was not the first incident to occur within WVU's Greek life, as a previous fraternity social event ended with 19 pledges in trouble with law enforcement.

According to NBC News, the university suspended its Sigma Chi chapter weeks ago, after 19 pledges were arrested or cited for alcohol possession.

To add further damage, the pledges reportedly told authorities they were members of a different fraternity, which could result in obstruction of justice charges.

WVU is adding its name to a long list of universities that have taken action against Greek life. Earlier this month, Johns Hopkins University suspended a fraternity and banned all open fraternity parties following an incident where a 16-year-old reported being raped at one such party.

At MIT, they restricted fraternity parties with more than 49 attendees after a woman fell from a window of a frat house. Amherst College took it a step further earlier this year and prohibited Greek life entirely.

In a controversial move in September, Wesleyan University imposed that fraternities go coed.

There is clearly no shortage of scandals involving alcohol-related events which have forced schools to take serious action. The simple solution to the recurring incidents that happen within the fraternities and sororities is to shut down their activities entirely.

A University of Oregon study found that 38 percent of women in the Greek system were victims of at least one attempted or completed rape, compared to 15.3 percent of women outside of the Greek system. With such statistics in mind, initially, this seems like an easy fix.

However, nationwide bans could potentially drive more parties to relocate off campus and establish an adversarial relationship between students and administrators.

It would be naïve to think that an end to frat parties would mean an end to college alcohol consumption.

Schools are undoubtedly feeling the pressure to take action with regard to student safety following the Department of Education's Title IX inquiry, which named 55 schools as being under investigation for mishandling sexual assault cases.

It is not even certain that placing a ban on any social activity is a successful deterrent for fraternities.

The Journal of Primary Prevention published a 2006 study which discovered that even forbidding alcohol within a chapter rarely results in a decrease in drinking and, in some cases, may even lead to increased alcohol use.

A nationwide ban would also be unjust to the chapters that are fulfilling the standards of what Greek life is intended to uphold. The positive aspects of Greek life are often left out of the headlines and seem to hold no value next to the endless stories of sexual assault and excessive drinking.

It is common for fraternities and sororities to be condemned and torn apart by college administrations, fellow students and social media despite the fact that they are often producing the most prestigious and successful positions in the nation.

It may appear that Greek life itself is the problem. But, I would say the blame is often misplaced, and fraternities seem to attract much of the blame due to the fact that they are at the center of social life on campus.

It is important to note that the incident which occurred at a chapter at John Hopkins University involved individuals who were not affiliated with Greek life or even the University itself.

The perilous situation we find ourselves in is not a Greek life problem, but rather, a community-wide problem.

Blame shouldn’t be misguidedly directed at Greek organizations but campuses as a whole.