I live on Locust Walk. Three minutes to class, three minutes to Lyn’s, three minutes to Pottruck — the location alone is fantastic. On top of that, I have the privilege to live with 20 friends, all under one roof, as we make our way through the undergraduate experience together. The house is much more than a residence. It’s a community. And there are nine others just like it on Locust Walk, with 17 more still in the Penn bubble, full of a diverse group of students all but indistinguishable in a crowd of our school’s students.
When that flyer showed up on our front door, after I took a closer look at it and read the email, I cringed. First and foremost, let’s talk about the composition: If you’re going to be sloppy and misogynistic, please use proper poetic meter.
The flyer did much more than chastise OZ and their attitude toward women. It started a campus-wide dialogue on Penn’s sexual assault problem. Rape culture has been brought to the forefront of conversation, and it’s making people want change. Greek students want change. I want change.
When I came to Penn as a freshman three years ago, I knew I wanted to join a fraternity. It existed as an idea in my head – a group of upstanding, authentic gentlemen. I wanted to be part of an organization with campus leaders, academics and genuinely awesome people. And that’s what I saw: a house full of successful and interesting men. I thought joining a fraternity would be the best move I could make as a freshman, both personally and professionally, that it would shape my life for the better.
However, after spending time in my organization, I saw the hidden problems plaguing not only the Greek system, but entire campuses nationwide. Cultural insensitivity, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual assault. I joined the college rendition of the Gilded Age. Many of the ideals I expected were still there, yet they cowered in the shadow of the vices to which we succumbed.
The first step to solving a problem is recognizing we have one. Fraternities are an unsafe place regarding sexual assault.
If we stayed true to our ideals, the pillars of excellence every one of our creeds espouses, fraternities would be the safest places on campus for anyone. No exception. That type of idealistic excellence is something we should all strive for as Greek students.
As you cynics roll your eyes, let me tell you what we’re doing to improve. This past weekend, sorority and fraternity leaders from the Panhellenic Council, Intercultural Greek Council and Interfraternity Council gathered to discuss major issues on campus and what we can do to prevent them. These leaders embodied our recent message in The Daily Pennsylvanian: We will not remain complacent. The Greek community stands together to combat the culture of passivity and normalization of sexual assault.
An example of this is mixer themes. We have implemented a strategy to prevent offensive parties from our campus through continued communication among our Greek leaders. It is our sincere hope and expectation that offensive parties will be a thing of the past.
Our new member education programs aren’t cutting it. We currently require 80 percent of new members to attend presentations given by Men Against Rape & Sexual Assault (MARS) and Student Health Services, as well as a Cultural & Sexuality Sensitivity workshop. Now, the IFC Executive Board has reached out to the experts — ASAP, PAGE, MARS, PAVE, Penn Women’s Center and PVP — to help us improve our organizations and solve this problem. First, we want to listen, to know what these groups have seen regarding these issues. Second, we want to learn from them what the IFC can do to be proactive in the fight against this destructive culture.
The unfortunate reality of the situation is that no one holds off-campus groups accountable for their actions. There is no way to reprimand them officially because they’re unofficial. I’m calling on all students who want to show these groups that this is not OK. I’m calling on everyone who won’t allow this inequality to continue. I’m calling on those that will not remain complicit in rape culture.
I ask you to understand that on-campus organizations, like those under the purveyance of the IFC and responsible for their words and actions, are genuinely working towards improvement. We are striving to be a great society, a community that cares for all by supporting its members and those around it. Rather than expunging members for making mistakes, we hope to build them up to a level worthy of being called a Greek organization.
And hopefully we can have a little fun along the way.
DAVID MOORE is a Wharton senior studying finance. He is the President of the Interfraternity Council as well as his own fraternity chapter. His email is email@example.com.Comments powered by Disqus
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