We hear it every day…
“Fraternities are bad!”
“Frat guys rape more often than non-frat guys!”
“Let’s ban fraternities!”
This shit is tiring for members of the Greek community, because, much to the general public’s dismay, we shun acts of sexual deviancy, rape, and assault just like any upstanding member of society with a half-functioning moral compass would. Alas, the narrative rolls on.
Recently, one columnist at the University of Southern California wrote an extensive report on sexual assault at the school. In his report, titled “The Cost Of Sexual Assault,” he aims to shed light on the epidemic of sexual assaults on USC’s campus, explain that the school system poorly handles cases that arise, and, more importantly, he calls out Greek life for perpetuating the so-called “rape culture” on campus via “high costs” and “creepiness.”
In the column, the author uses a graph that shows the correlation of “creepiness” to a fraternity’s status. “Creepiness” is apparently a calculable statistic, based on “sexually aggressive experiences.” You can view that graph here. In the plot graphs, the X-axis of the left graph is the status of a fraternity (the lower the status, the more they pay for parties, and likely the higher tier they are), while the Y-axis is the “creepiness” frequency. The X-axis for the graph on the right is the total number of fraternity hookups versus the same Y-axis as before.
Assuming that fraternity status is influenced at least partly by the amount of financial resources funneled into parties, the chart on the left shows that higher status fraternities, and thus, those who spent more on parties, had a higher reported-creepiness frequency. Add in the chart on the right, and the logical result is that despite having a higher creepiness frequency, the top (and more creepy) frats with the most expensive parties also had more collective hookups.
A sociology professor at the University of Michigan also went on to say this:
“Fraternities have a domination of the party resources, which basically contributes to sexual assault.”
Pretty drastic leap there. I don’t even know how this professor came to this conclusion that having more party resources contributes to sexual assault. I missed the scientific study that proved that the more “party resources” you have, the more you’re going to be assaulting girls sexually. Seems like this professor just jumped from point A to point Q with no proof given on how they got there.
The most important stat I’d like to point out is the fact that he said a 2014 University of Oregon study showed sorority girls are two times more likely to face sexual assault than girls who are not in sororities. He was using this stat to back up a 2008 study done at USC showing that Greeks were more likely to partake in sexual assault. The numbers in that study were also percentage-based. You’ll see this strategy used by anti-Greek people a lot, but when you get down to the raw numbers, you’ll find that they are a bit skewed — some might even call them biased. They use these percentage-based numbers because they’re trying to scare people. However, 100 percent of one is still just one, and one-percent of 10,000 is still 100.
The 2014 study at the University of Oregon found that 38 percent of sorority girls are likely to experience rape or some sort of sexual assault. That seems high, right? I mean, if I was a sorority girl, that would be extremely alarming to me. On the flip side, the study found that only 15.3 percent of girls who weren’t in a sorority would experience rape or some kind of sexual assault.
Now, let’s break down these numbers. Since I don’t have the 2014 enrollment numbers from the University of Oregon, we’ll assume that the same percentage of sexual assault experiences are happening at Oregon for 2015, and we’ll use the 2015 enrollment numbers.
The total enrollment for the University of Oregon in 2015 is 24,181. Of those enrolled, 20,569 are undergraduates. To be conservative, I will throw out the graduate students and assume that they are not in Greek life. There are a total of 12,638 female students on campus, both graduate and undergraduate. Graduate students account for roughly 15 percent of the total attendance, while females account for 52.3 percent of total attendance. So it’s relatively safe to assume that there are roughly 10,758 female undergraduates (20,569 x 52.3%).
The total number of students who are in Greek life at Oregon is 3,334. According to Niche.com, 14 percent of undergrad females are in sororities at Oregon. That would mean that there are about 1,506 undergrad females in sororities (10,758 x 14%). My math brings me to 9,252 undergraduate girls who are not in a sorority (10,758-1,506).
Now, let’s take the 38 percent of sorority girls who are likely to experience rape, and you’ll find that the total number is 572 girls. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have 1,416 girls who are not in Greek life who will experience sexual assault. THE NUMBER OF GIRLS WHO AREN’T IN GREEK LIFE WHO WILL EXPERIENCE SEXUAL ASSAULT IS ALMOST EQUAL TO THE TOTAL NUMBER OF GIRLS IN GREEK LIFE.
I’m not ignorant. Obviously sexual assaults do take place at fraternity houses, just as they take place in any number of non-organizational houses, but when you’re throwing out skewed stats like “sorority girls are two times more likely to be raped than non-sorority girls” without including all of the factors that contribute to the allegedly higher percentage of sexual assaults, you’re going to scare a lot of people away from joining sororities and fraternities that would’ve otherwise done so, in my opinion, unnecessarily. In reality, the raw numbers show that more girls are sexually assaulted outside of Greek life than the total number of girls in Greek life (at least at Oregon). Again, those are just the raw numbers based on the math above.
So how would the guy that wrote this accusatory column go about changing the whole “home turf advantage for fraternities” narrative? He suggests lobbying for sororities to get an alcohol insurance policy so that the girls can start throwing parties at their own houses. Good luck getting Panhellenic on board with that, chief.
The second idea that he presents is for all fraternities to hold parties at public venues rather than their private houses. This happens all over the country already, and let me tell you, it is damn expensive to have to rent out a bar or venue. If you have a wet house, you have an advantage in recruiting because you have a place where you can get drunk knowing that you can pass out on the couch if need be. So in a sense, his plan already happen. So now what?
Well, his third idea would be to just keep telling the parents more and more info on all the bad things that fraternities do so they’ll stop paying for dues and effectively crumple the Greek system. Listen, when my future kid gets to college, he will be an adult. At that point in his life, he will be free and able to make his own decisions without needing parental approval when it comes to these types of things, because that’s how I’ll have raised him.
We all get the point that the author is trying to make. Sure, there are bad apples in the Greek system just like there are bad apples in society as a whole. That doesn’t mean you shut the whole fucking thing down. You get rid of the bad apples, better the system, and move on. The overall goal of columns like this to disrupt the growth or continuation of Greek life by damning the entire system is skipping way too many steps. Surely there are more productive ways to better fraternities and sororities than damaging their reputations by throwing out skewed stats in an effort to lesson their membership. Let’s find some other solutions that are actually realistic, like better educating sororities, and fraternities, on the dangers of sexual assault, rather than the idealistic but hardly realistic solutions presented by the columnist in question..
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