Sunday, December 15

Editorial: Ban on in-house fraternity events with alcohol must be made permanent


This post was updated Jan. 18 at 9:43 p.m.

Fraternity parties are a fixture of college life. And sexual violence is a fixture of fraternity parties.

Earlier this week, UCLA’s Interfraternity Council indefinitely banned in-house events with alcohol at all fraternities following an alleged sexual assault Saturday night. The perpetrator, a UCLA student, was arrested and charged with assault with intent to commit rape and oral copulation. To make matters worse, the student was the 2016-17 president of UCLA’s Theta Delta Chi fraternity.

This is only the latest in a long list of sexual assaults reported in UCLA’s fraternity houses. Almost every year, the university finds itself investigating cases of sexual assault at fraternities, and, without fail, Greek life leaders race to express their condemnation and conduct sensitivity training on sexual harassment and assault.

However, these efforts have done little to address the fraternity party scene’s sexual assault culture. Greek life has more than exhausted its three strikes, and Bruins should no longer be in harm’s way at fraternity houses because the community hasn’t figured out how to prevent its members from committing sexual assault. IFC needs to permanently ban in-house events with alcohol. Doing so certainly won’t end sexual violence on campus, but would make spaces known to enable it off-limits.

IFC issued a statement earlier this week that the council was facilitating “constructive conversations” and speaking with administrators about how to best address the issue of sexual assault going forward. But these discussions are no different from what Greek life leaders tried – evidently with little success – in previous years.

In April 2016, Greek life leaders and members of the Undergraduate Students Association Council wrote a letter to students proclaiming they stood in solidarity with sexual assault survivors. Six months later, then-IFC President Derek Bergmann wrote a letter to the community about how his council would prioritize education concerning racial and gender identity to combat misogyny and racism at UCLA’s Greek life institutions.

Fraternities also received tailored, in-person Title IX training for the 2016-17 year, with every single fraternity member having undergone training by February 2017. In addition, UCLA’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life mandated that fraternities couldn’t hold any social activities until every single member of their chapter had completed training.

Greek life has clearly tried to address sexual assault. But the results haven’t been that promising: A former member of the IFC’s executive council told The Bruin he thinks there has been an uptick in the number of instances of gender-based violence and discriminatory behavior this academic year. If true, the discussions and Title IX training sessions Greek life members have gone through over the past two years have been woefully insufficient.

That’s not to say IFC isn’t trying to make amends. IFC President Noah Mayer said the presidents’ council unanimously voted to enact the ban without any pressure from the UCLA administration or knowledge that the student was arrested and charged. He also added the IFC is focusing on implementing updated bylaws that address concerns about sexual assault in fraternity houses.

This is certainly a start. But we should be far past the point of just starting to address sexual assault in Greek life spaces. Institutionalizing the ban on in-house activities with alcohol, if duly enforced, is the way forward.

Banning all parties may seem harsh to fraternities that can host events with alcohol and still prevent instances of sexual assault. But parties in sprawling, darkened fraternity houses, where it is easy for attendees to become lost and isolated while intoxicated, will always put students at risk.

Moreover, parties involving alcohol are wholly unnecessary to fraternities’ missions and are already banned in sorority houses across campus. There is no reason for this double standard – especially when sexual violence has persisted at fraternities despite numerous efforts to address it.

For nearly a century, Greek life at UCLA has partied, sometimes at the expense of students’ safety. It’s about time IFC realizes fraternity house parties are better at perpetuating a sexually corrosive environment than enriching students’ college experiences.

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  • Loner Stoner

    Bc prohibition always works

  • Jeffrey Sears

    Well, let’s just look on the positive side of Greek life…
    There are over 9 million Greek members nationally
    Of the nation’s 50 largest corporations, 43 are headed by fraternity men.
    85% of the Fortune 500 executives belong to a fraternity.
    40 of 47 U.S. Supreme Court Justices since 1910 were fraternity men.
    76% of all Congressmen and Senators belong to a fraternity.
    Every U.S. President and Vice President, except two in each office, born since the first social fraternity was founded in 1825 have been members of a fraternity.
    63% of the U.S. President’s Cabinet members since 1900 have been Greek.
    A National Conference report shows a high percentage of the 4,000 NIC fraternity chapters are above the All-Men’s scholastic average on their respective campuses.
    A U.S. Government study shows that over 70% of all those who join a fraternity/sororitiy graduate, while under 50% of all non-fraternity/sorority persons graduate.
    Less than 2% of an average college student’s expenses go toward fraternity dues. (U.S. Office of Education)
    Over 85% of the student leaders on some 730 campuses are involved in the Greek community.
    1 st Female Senator was Greek
    1 st Female Astronaut was Greek
    All of the Apollo 11 Astronauts are Greek
    Over $7 million is raised each year by Greeks nationally
    The Greek system is the largest network of volunteers in the US, with members donating over 10 million hours of volunteer service each year
    71% of those listed in “Who’s Who in America” belong to a fraternity
    As Alumni, Greeks give approximately 75% of all money donated to universities
    There are 123 fraternities and sororities with 9 million members total
    There are 750,000 undergraduate members in 12,000 chapters on more than 800 campuses in the USA and Canada

    • Jim1Liz

      As a member of a national sorority I can share that alcohol abuse is so much more out of control compared to 30 years ago and it is time we address the issue head on. None of the facts above about the benefits of Greek life are affected one iota by eliminating in-house drinking parties. Sororities have been this way, for the most part, for years and, in general, are safer and cleaner than their fraternity counterparts.

      • Jeffrey Sears

        Jim – I went to CU and ASU in the 70’s and had friends at UCLA. I can assure you that out of control drinking and drugs we’re widespread back then. Drinking age in AZ was 18. None of my friends ever raped or assaulted a woman because they were raised to respect women. I know about sororities too. Dated many sorority women.

    • Donna Lujan

      Jeffrey. Your list verifies the elitism of Greek life.

      • Jeffrey Sears

        Donna – Being able to afford $25-60k/yr as a college student is ‘elitist’. Period. Successful people make the right steps to get there. They invest in their future: study hard, volunteer, network, etc. If you don’t want to be “elitist” and work at Starbucks or the gas station there’s no problem with that.

  • Jeffrey Sears

    This very credible & recent study indicates that 50% of rapes on campus happen in freshmen dorms. Should we ban Freshmen dorms too? At ASU, 63% of all rapes were reported at dorms – Freshman dorms are reported to have 17%, upperclassman with 19%. Dorms that are neither just for freshmen or upperclassmen account for further 27% of reports. Do we ban all dorms at ASU? And then the real big kicker is that non college age women report 20% more rape and sexual assault than college women (NCVS study). So do we ban bars and dating? I’d say it’s not the location but our culture. Parents must raise their sons to respect women. Sounds so simple but sex and alcohol create bad judgement both on and off the campus.

  • Harrison Schwartz

    Glad to know more bruins don’t believe in freedom.