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Aug 21 2016
by Caitlyn Anderson

The Link Between Fraternities and Campus Sexual Assault

By Caitlyn Anderson - Aug 21 2016

From the safety lectures at orientation to the concerned advice passed down from older students, we're constantly warned about the potential dangers of frat parties, and with good reason - a 2007 study found that fraternity members are three times more likely to commit sexual assault than non-members. This study was the third of its kind to reach the same conclusion: there appears to be an undeniable link between fraternities and sexual assault. But why?

Some may postulate that perhaps people already predisposed to committing sexual assault end up joining fraternities. However, this isn't the case. Professor John Foubert, one of the researchers in the 2007 study, remarked that there was no difference between fraternity men and their peers before college. They committed the same number of sexual assaults. But, once college began, this changed. The group of men who joined fraternities would go on to commit three times more assaults than non-members during their time at university. Thus, Foubert concluded that fraternities make young men more likely to commit sexual assault. 

Fraternity culture seems to encourage and feed misogynistic tendencies in its members, amplified by the high degree of ideological uniformity present in most fraternities. A UC San Diego fraternity made aspiring members solicit nude pictures of female classmates. The Phi Delta Theta chapter at Texas Tech displayed a banner reading "No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal." This disgusting mantra may sound familiar to you, as it appears on the lips of frat brothers all over the country, including at Yale. Instances like these have become commonplace; we've come to know fraternities as hubs of rape culture. 

Foubert further explains that fraternity houses are particularly dangerous spaces for women because they are entirely unmonitored and unrestricted. Even if colleges have strict codes of conduct for Greek life organizations, they rarely bother investigating or enforcing such regulations. This allows fraternities to be almost self-governing in nature. Also, because sororities aren't allowed to possess alcohol, fraternities become central drinking locales and can control the drinks, as well as what's put in them. All of these factors combine to result in a male-dominated, uncontrolled space associated with heavy drinking and unbridled misogyny. Left unchecked, it's no wonder why fraternities turn into hotbeds of sexual violence. 

Lead Image Credit: Rusty Clark via Flickr Creative Commons

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Caitlyn Anderson - University of California, Los Angeles

Caitlyn attends UCLA with a major in chemical engineering. Her interests include writing, traveling, and the environment.

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