Opinion: Fraternity members should take an additional sexual assault prevention course

The term “rape culture” has become a buzzword in our society. At times, it's used flippantly so that its definition might be misconstrued or its significance disregarded. Even using the phrase can incite negative connotations, dubiousness or at least an eye roll. 

The concept and importance of consent has been so widely advocated that to write another article concerning its significance may seem a waste of ink. However, these issues, though recognized socially, must be continually explored within the microcosms of our university.

Any woman who has participated in fraternity events knows the unofficial rule of frat parties: if you’re a girl, you get in. Whether this nearly ubiquitous convention is inherently misogynistic or not, it is certainly more specific to the individual intentions of fraternity members. 

Call me crazy, but it’s not sexist for a group of guys to want to hang out with or date girls. However, within specific circumstances and perhaps even specific fraternities, women can feel like objects of entertainment at frat parties rather than people. There’s an almost symbiotic relationship between the two. Girls go for free beer, and the guys get to hang out with girls. 

Although there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this arrangement, these “frat party principles” can filter into everyday life or alter someone's typical morals to fit the unique fraternity scene. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately half of sexual assault cases “involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, victim, or both.” 

Similarly, according to a poll conducted by the Washington Post, “5 percent of men and 20 percent of women said they had been sexually assaulted in college.” These statistics become more striking when you consider the fact that frat members are three times more likely to commit sexual assault than nonmembers.

Recognizing these statistics and the studied tendencies of fraternities is important when acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of our university’s approach to sexual assault prevention. Fraternities are a long-standing tradition that should not be disparaged as a whole but rather reformed in order for them to no longer adhere to these misogynistic reputations. 

In the same way that this university requires that all students take a sexual assault prevention course online, the university should mandate an additional course before participation in a fraternity. 

This requirement should not be an attack on fraternities, but an acknowledgement that USC will hold frat members to a standard higher than that of other universities. Likewise, there should be a no tolerance policy within fraternities when it comes to sexual assault.

We should be proud to be Gamecocks; let us exhibit school spirit not only at football games, but in the ethics that we demand of our clubs, fraternities and student body as a whole.

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