The alleged 1983 gang rape of a University student at the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity has returned to campus debate after the release of a University professor's analysis of the incident and of fraternities as a whole. Anthropology Professor Peggy Reeves Sanday's latest book, Fraternity Gang Rape: Sex, Brotherhood and Privilege on Campus, examines cases in which fraternity brothers in small groups attempt to dominate women by "pulling train," or gang-raping them. Several faculty members called the book an excellent analysis of fraternity culture and Womens Center Director Elena Dilapi called Sanday's work "the book to read" at the University. And although some fraternity members acknowledged that many of the events in Fraternity Gang Rape did occur, most say the book portrays a system of the past. Some members criticized Sanday for trying to inflame passions with her book. Sanday writes in her introduction that she is bound by professional ethics not to reveal the location of her study. However, several references in the book make it clear that Sanday is describing the University, including details about Locust Walk, the high rises, and even the modern-art sculptures which dot the campus. The anthropology professor describes incidents in specific houses using pseudonyms and in most cases does not give distinguishing characteristics of the houses. The alleged 1983 gang rape is attributed to the "XYZ" fraternity, but it is clear that the incident occured at ATO because of the citations and supporting evidence she uses. Sanday also says the case has received too much publicity to be truly disguised. Sanday uses personal, legal and journalistic accounts of the ATO rapes from the night of the crime to ATO's final eviction from campus nearly one year later. She also uses documented studies in anthropology and other social sciences. Sanday and members of her staff interviewed the victim, whom she calls Laurel, members of ATO and other University fraternities, and two other women who had contact with ATO. The book focuses on the initiation process, containing graphic accounts of the initiation of two fraternity brothers interviewed by Sanday's research staff. According to accounts in the text, brothers first attempt to cleanse pledges of their weak "femininity" during initiation. After the pledges are "cleansed," the brothers test their loyalty to the fraternity and attempt to prove their strength. Sanday writes that as part of one man's "cleansing," the brothers forced the pledges to stand nude from the waist down while brothers degraded their penises and coated the pledges' testes using Ben-Gay and a basting brush. The book also says that the brothers concocted a drink containing sour milk, hot peppers and rotten squid for the pledges to drink and subsequently vomit. Afterwards, the brothers forced them to clean up the mess they made. Sanday's premise is that men do not inherently seek to rape women. She asserts that during pledging men are conditioned to downgrade women because older fraternity brothers try to destroy pledges' feminine traits. Sanday argues that gang rape is an expression of male sexual domination and that fraternity brothers judge their self-worth by the number of women they have sex with. She says the brothers bring women to near unconsciousness with alcohol and put them into inherently coercive situations. Using the ATO incident as a springboard, Sanday concludes that gang rapes are the result of brothers' "working a yes out" -- pressuring women to change their "no" to a "yes." She also says the brothers receive satisfaction for both their homosexual and heterosexual desires during a gang rape. (****EDS NOTE: Clarification - Kinsella said that the system MAY have showed a system of the past...) Interfraternity Council President Bret Kinsella said yesterday that Sanday's book accurately shows a fraternity system of the past, but said the University's fraternity system has sought to eradicate the problems Sanday traces out. Kinsella, who said that he has not read the whole book, said yesterday that the IFC has moved closer to solving problems such as alcohol abuse and acquaintance rape. He said the IFC now requires each fraternity to have a "social awareness chairman," who works to educate brothers about such issues. "As a Greek system we have taken several steps in the past three years to deal with the issues forwarded by Sanday which seem to be so prevalent in our society," Kinsella said. "I think the issues she deals with are far too serious to ignore, but we have attempted to deal with [them]." Kinsella refused to comment on specific incidents in the book and did not say whether initiation practices criticized by Sanday are still used. Beta Theta Pi brother David Wessells said that Sanday is both too general and too critical in her evaluation of fraternities, adding that incidents such as the ATO rapes are "isolated." "Too many times Professor Sanday implies the fraternity system is the cause of sexual abuse on campus," Wessels said. "[Unless] feminists such as Sanday begin to offer solutions and advice rather than antagonize the situation, the campus will continue to grow more and more divided." Current ATO President Nick Lobaccaro did not return repeated phone calls. Women's Center Director DiLapi said yesterday that "Fraternity Gang Rape" can help both men and women solve problems of abuse of women. "With understanding [about fraternity practices], . . . we can look to a future that doesn't hate women so much and doesn't perpetuate crimes against women," DiLapi said. Dilapi said she believes the fraternity system will be able to change in positive ways. Microbiology Professor Helen Davies called Sanday "a brilliant anthropologist" and said the book contributes knowlege to both the University and the academic world about the fraternity culture. "It's going to be a very important anthropological research book because she's gone to the source of the information -- the people," Davies said yesterday. "It gives us a perspective that people haven't had before." DiLapi said she thinks the details of both the rape and the initiation will not in themselves incite women. "I am sure that there will be men on this campus who will be as outraged as women," DiLapi said. "It is my hope that those men will join with us."Comments powered by Disqus
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