Recently I stumbled upon yet another upsetting story about a fraternity disrespecting women. I know, what else is new?
This particular fraternity, the Phi Delta Theta chapter at Texas Tech University, decided it was a good idea to post a sign at their unsanctioned party that read "No Means Yes. Yes Means Anal." They complimented this eloquent signage with a representation of the female genitalia that apparently doubled as a sprinkler.
I chose not include photos of this display in the article but if you would like to see them they are available here.
Naturally, this chapter was removed from campus this week by the national chapter. After researching their comments on the issue, I found something interesting. I expected to see the standard apology coupled by the reassuring statement that these actions "did not align with the ideals of the brotherhood." Instead Phi Delta Theta took their response one step further:
The remaining members will have all activities limited to education in the areas of sexual assault prevention and bystander behavior, improving chapter operations, community service and philanthropic activities.
In addition, they announced that the chapter will provide community service to rape crisis and sexual assault prevention organizations.
I must say I was impressed and would like to applaud the public relations professionals working for Phi Delta Theta. These statements certainly do not mitigate the offensive nature of the sign or the "vagina sprinkler" but it does show that someone within the organization cares, or at least acts like they do.
This led me to wonder why this isn't something that was done in the first place.
I optimistically like to believe that the young men involved in these issues that we see time and time again must be uninformed. They must not be aware of their ignorance and if they had programs in place to help educate them, these things would stop happening. That maybe then we wouldn't have to spell out the notion that "no", in fact, does mean no on our campuses, the places that are supposed to house our best and brightest young minds.
Maybe we would stop seeing headlines like these. (Which, by the way, all ran this week.)
We see stories like this so often we've become numb to them. We are no longer shocked to see stories of sexual assaults occurring in fraternity houses emerge. We have become completely desensitized to these victims. Unless they carry their mattress on campus for days, they will likely get a headline like these and be forgotten soon after when another student is sexually assaulted at some other fraternity party.
How many more sexually assaults must happen under roofs donned with Greek letters before we take notice? And when will fraternities learn that we can work to prevent these assaults instead of just apologizing for them afterwards?
From my understanding, fraternities have an army of public relations professionals, dozens of men in suits that are paid the big bucks to keep the brotherhood looking good. It seems to me that these brothers might need to spend a little time with some sisters, learn what feminism means and bring that newfound knowledge to the college level.
Maybe then, we would see a positive change in Greek life (and less signs encouraging sexual assault.) But maybe I'm being too optimistic.