A call for the end of frat culture

By Ellen Barczak, Columnist

am calling for an end to fraternity culture. And I’m not talking about the brotherhood or the community service.  

I do not make this statement lightly. I do not make this statement out of the general stereotypes that swirl around about it, out of a frat boy not texting me back or something equally petty. And, before you condemn me, remember that I do appreciate and recognize that there can be positive aspects to Greek life.

I instead make this statement based on past personal experience: the times when a frat boy didn’t care that I said no, the times where I had to run to the bathroom to get away and the times where I was threatened with physical force to leave for refusing to have sexual relations with a member.

Fraternity members are three times more likely to commit acts of sexual assault compared with their non-Greek peers. Likewise, women in sororities are 74 percent more likely to be raped than other women in college.

Some may say this column is controversial. I welcome the pushback, really, but I ask those who will inevitably write me messages filled with hatred and dissent this: Have you ever felt so afraid, so powerless, that you couldn’t move?

Ladies in particular: have you ever been threatened by a group of undergraduate boys with egos bigger than the sun and hatred in their eyes?

If not, I am happy for you, but I fear you may not completely understand why exactly I make this claim, and I hope you can empathize with my experiences.

I must clarify, however, that I was never actually sexually assaulted, and for that I am so thankful. But, how sad is that? How low are our standards for frats? A culture gone so wrong that I am simply happy I was not physically violated.

Something needs to change.

I won’t mention the fraternities by name, mainly because it doesn’t matter, but also because I don’t care to receive any death threats. They’re all basically the same though, and this is how it goes: Young boys come together and purchase large quantities of alcohol. Underage people come to these groups of young boys with alcohol and may or may not enjoy a libation. Young boys feel underage people owe them something for the “service they provide.”

Not all fraternities are made up of men. Oftentimes they are made up of boys, boys who do not understand basic empathy, decency and humility; they feed off one another, egging each other on in the worst ways possible.

That is not to say there aren’t many fraternal organizations that prove the exception to this observation. In fact, I personally know some that actively seek to put a stop to the behaviors of members who promote the negative stereotypes of fraternities.

We have all heard about those “bad” frats. They’re the ones that take physical advantage of women, spike their drinks with Everclear or worse,  smoke God knows what: They instill a dangerous sense of power in their brothers and a sense of fear, however slight, in the individuals who choose to partake in their events.

The victim is never to blame, and I am not at fault for how I was treated. However, I am acutely aware that it was my choice to go to these establishments. It was my choice to make friends with the members. I never could have imagined my friendliness and my insistence on maintaining my personal convictions could have resulted in the threat of physical violence.

These young boys feel as though they provide an invaluable aspect of the college experience, and they may not be wrong. But if that aspect of the college experience includes rape, sexual assault, threats and violence, then I do not believe the benefits outweigh the costs.

I do not take sharing my experiences lightly, and I understand it is a bold and risky move.

But, what if I kept quiet? What if I didn’t tell anyone, or if I just kept it all to myself? Who would that help?

Some might say I’m complaining over nothing, that nothing actually happened to me. And they wouldn’t be completely wrong — I was not harmed. But it didn’t feel good to be threatened with harm.

To anyone reading, I hope you always feel safe and have fun with no scary, unforeseen repercussions. I hope you yourself never partake in the interactions that traumatize women who just want to have fun with their friends. I hope this aspect of University life can continue with a heightened emphasis on safety, respect and kindness.

Ellen is a freshman in LAS. 

[email protected]