An air of competition coated the Senate floor last Wednesday during a hearing of a resolution regarding the expansion of Fraternity and Sorority Life. We began to feel uncomfortable with the air the conversation took. The words “Greek life is under attack” were uttered. I felt that the issue at hand, the resolution, was construed by some as an attack on Greek Life by independents. This perspective needs to disappear—the issue at hand was not a matter of independents against Greek life, but a matter of the campus community against sexual violence.
The proposed resolution was very problematic. The debate involved discussion on whether or not preventing new Greek houses from joining the Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils would help stop potential sexual violence, or whether or not it would exacerbate the issue. There was also an issue with the wording of the resolution, as imposing restrictions on only new fraternities and not sororities would be a violation of Title IX. Because of these, the resolution was tabled, pending revision. But the motivation behind the resolution, a desire to prevent further sexual violence, was sound, and was pertinent to the real issue at hand.
That issue at hand is sexual violence. It is one that gained the spotlight at our university after a public incident last year. It continues to plague our campus.
Many groups have worked on the issues surrounding sexual violence for a long time. These groups include our Organization Against Sexual Assault, Take Back The Night, Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team, Safe Ride, the Women’s and Men’s Center, and many more. In light of last spring’s events, several new groups came into being as well, including the University Senate Task Force for Sexual Assault Prevention and Survivor Support, the Fraternity and Sorority Life Task Force, and others.
However, it is not enough. This campus needs every student, staff member, faculty, and administrator to take a hard stance against sexual violence, and for all of these parties to work tirelessly to eradicate the heinous crime from our campus.
What cannot happen is for this campus to let the proposed resolution divide Greek students and independents in efforts to fight the problem. It is absolutely paramount that, regardless of the outcome of the resolution, everybody on this campus continues to put every effort into fighting the problem and supporting each other.
We plead the campus community to do their best to help fight this problem. It is important to educate yourselves about healthy relationships and consent. It is important to learn prevention skills such as bystander intervention. And it is absolutely vital to learn how to support survivors and how to foster an environment at this school where people feel comfortable and safe enough to report sexual violence so justice can be served. Many of these groups offer education on these issues, and several departments offer classes that can inform you as well. In addition, many of these groups are hard at work and require volunteer support. And for those of you reading this who feel enterprising, new groups are always welcome.
Awareness is only the first step; in order to fight the problem, we must all rise together against sexual violence in order to make this campus into the place we all deserve.
Senate Seat 11: Business and Economics
Independent, Safe Ride Dispatcher
Senate Seat 16: Life Sciences