Complacency in Greek system merits soul searching

CAMPUS ISSUES: In simply reaffirming or slightly abridging already-in-place rules, Greek councils show that they cannot effectively solve the system's gendered power imbalance.

By banning Game Day parties two weeks ago, the Interfraternity and Panhellenic councils proved they might finally be taking bold action to address a stunning culture of sexual violence and misogyny that rears its ugly head at their parties.

By ending the ban with nothing more than slight changes to existing rules — which have been ignored before and are destined to be ignored again, especially because they’re nearly impossible to enforce — these councils prove inarguably that they remain ineffective regulators.

Yes, various chapters around campus demonstrate a willingness to make efforts at improvement, but they do so in spite of, not because of, their national organizations and councils.

And when a Greek system facing an uptick in reported sexual assaults addresses these problems by banning hard alcohol in main party rooms, increasing the number of sober party-goers and emphasizing the importance of consent talks, it shows an inability for the councils to address the real, deep-rooted gender imbalance plaguing the system.

It also shows that productive solutions have not come from national organizations or councils and that specific houses have no choice but to take it upon themselves to create healthy spaces within a dangerous system.

For example, the “new” rules reaffirm a ban on hard alcohol downstairs at parties. But nothing prohibits a fraternity brother from having hard alcohol in his room. Swaths of party-goers must ascend into young men’s private bedrooms to find liquor. Luring people upstairs into more private, hidden spaces seems counterintuitive to promoting party safety.

Of course, an increased number of sober monitors can have a real effect on curbing foul play. But these monitors shouldn’t have to be a safeguard against sexual assault.

Without addressing societal norms that entitle men to act inappropriately toward women, the Greek system won’t escape its pervasive sexual violence problem.

Consent talks — when people must define affirmative consent as they enter or welcome others into parties — could play a role in combating a culture that tells men they’re entitled to what they want. And still, some brothers don’t take these important tools seriously. How can you fix a problem when so many still fail to acknowledge its existence or severity?

It should come as no surprise that an institution built to separate men and women breeds misogyny and a prevalence of assault. It deprives women of the ability to host parties in their own houses and allows many national chapters to prevent sisters from inviting men into their own bedrooms which forces even consensual sexual encounters into men’s spaces. The system fosters an insidious, gendered power imbalance.

That many continue to rationalize and excuse ineffective solutions, passing them off as the best they can do within the system’s defunct framework, is a painful cycle that continues to afflict the Greek community. And solutions need to go further than pointing fingers at an overarching society. At this point, the entire community needs to commit to internal, systemic change.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Senior Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.

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