rapeculture

Flyers accusing off-campus organization OZ of perpetuating rape culture were critical to the formation of a University task force, which released its recommendations last week.

Photo: Carson Kahoe / The Daily Pennsylvanian

The backlash toward off-campus organization OZ, which appears to have been connected to a controversial email distributed on flyers around campus this week, amplified on Wednesday as various sorority members informally cut ties with the group. 

The flyers displayed an email from ozyellowbrickroad1@gmail.com telling "ladies," “May we have your attention please/We’re looking for the fun ones/And say f**k off to a tease,” with in bold letter printed over it, "THIS IS WHAT RAPE CULTURE LOOKS LIKE" and "WE ARE WATCHING."

Individual members of both off-campus group OAX and an affiliated sorority that asked not to be named harshly criticized OZ and said they left group chats with members of the group.

“This narrative of, frankly, misogyny and lack of respect for women was not something I was surprised to see,” said OAX member and College sophomore Abby McGuckin, who was not speaking as a representative of the group. Along with some of her friends, McGuckin said she left a group chat that also had OZ members in it.

An affiliated sorority also distanced themselves from OZ in light of the flyers.

"As an all-women organization, interested both in women's and human rights, we highly value the maintenance of a safe space for our sisters and all other women on campus,” the sorority said in a statement. “We will not stand for this blatant show of disrespect to our fellow students.”

The members protested OZ's behavior by likewise leaving a group chat shared by the two organizations.

The sorority did not wish to be named because affiliated Greek organizations have traditionally been discouraged from associating with unrecognized, off-campus groups. The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life even warns parents and students on their website about these "high-risk" groups that are "known to cause problems in the community." 

College junior Amanda Silberling, one of the leaders of Tuesday's protest, said it felt "incredible" to see women in Greek organizations stand in solidarity with them. 

"We’ve been trying to make it clear that this isn’t a witch hunt against people in Greek organizations," she said. "This is something that is trying to eradicate as much as possible a harmful culture that exists in American life, not just [in] the small microcosm of college campuses and the even smaller microcosm of fraternities."

The protest itself has attracted people on campus who are members of Greek organizations as well as others involved in performing arts groups and the Government and Politics Association.

While several members of OZ have not responded to multiple requests for comment, the group did appear to react to the publicity around their leaked email by canceling the "Wild Wednesdays" party this week, according to an email provided to The Daily Pennsylvanian by a member of a separate affiliated sorority, who asked not to be named. It was not immediately clear if the party was permanently shuttered. 

The email posted around campus on Tuesday morning was an invitation sent to freshman girls to attend Wild Wednesdays by an account linked to OZ. 

Silberling applauded the responses she has gotten from other Penn students, including a member of Zeta Beta Tau who offered to start a conversation with other fraternities about the ramifications of the email, she said. 

"It makes me so hopeful that at a fraternity chapter meeting, they would be talking about how to treat women right and how to keep women safe on campus," she said.

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