Two men stop me at the door and ask for an invitation. Shivering from the coastal breeze, I anxiously pull up the GroupMe chat between my sorority and their fraternity. I explain that I just need to get inside to walk my roommates home, showing the group chat for leverage. They deny me access, allowing women in “higher-ranked” sororities through the door. Still standing there, they roll their eyes and state: “If you can name two brothers we’ll let you in.” I name two members who I know from high school. “Okay, call them to let you in.” After ten minutes of failed calls, they finally let me in under the condition that I “leave immediately with ‘said’ roommates.”
I couldn’t believe that fraternity events gave men the power to directly objectify and degrade me. I hated that I and so many other women silently adhered to this sexist power dynamic. After quitting Greek life last year, I realized that this dynamic enables the sexist hookup culture that endures on our campus.
In the past month, sexual violence against female students has become the unfortunate topic of conversation for UC Santa Barbara students and a horrible reality for more than three reported victims.
The Nexus reported that on Oct. 3, a Sigma Pi fraternity member allegedly assaulted two women at a party. A UCSB-issued report stated that there had been two reported incidents of the use of date-rape drugs at a fraternity party on Oct. 5. And on Oct. 27, a student was allegedly raped in a fraternity house, according to a UCPD-issued timely warning.
Not all fraternity members are rapists, and Greek life is not inherently bad. But neither UCSB’s administration nor its students can deny the commonalities between those three separate allegations, each of which allegedly occurred at a fraternity house. Furthermore, three separate studies have corroborated the fact that fraternity men are more likely to rape or sexually assault someone in college than other male college students.
Greek life is structured around the dichotomy of sororities and fraternities. Socials and bi-weekly parties are held on fraternity property where the frat provides alcohol for the sororities. The structure of these events is inherently sexist and creates an immediate issue of reciprocity: The men provide the drinks and the space. The girls are invited, but what do they provide?
While not all fraternity members feel entitled to “hook up” with women at their events, there is a systemic issue created by the structure of socials. While fraternities are at liberty to provide alcohol at their events, National Panhellenic laws prohibit sororities from doing the same. Entering fraternity parties, the women are in a foreign territory, and the men are in the comfort of their own space.
Fraternity members who check people at the door have the power to let someone in or deny them entry for any reason, and most of the time it has to do with beauty or status, typically determined by the sorority they’re in. Men will encourage women to drink more, and they have the power to go behind the bar and get more alcohol because it is their space.
This power structure doesn’t necessarily empower every fraternity member, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem. And it’s also not a problem unique to Greek life. Most parties where men host have a similar structure: a bouncer determines if a woman is attractive enough or a man unthreatening enough to enter, and the hosts control the consumption of alcohol.
These party dynamics create unsafe environments for women. Even if the male host doesn’t explicitly feel owed, transactional relationships are so ingrained in our society that it subconsciously manifests in harmful actions. Rape and sexual assault, especially when consent is revoked in the middle of a sexual encounter, often occur because the perpetrator feels entitled to what they want and what they thought they were going to receive.
Although only 11% of the UCSB student body directly participates in Greek life, many female students will attend a frat party at one point in their college experience and one sexual assault should be enough to prompt people to take action. The continuation of fraternity parties and sororities endorsing participation in them invalidates the victims’ horrific and life-altering experiences.
When fraternity men continue to host parties after these crimes occur, they are actively ignoring the fact that their organization empowers their brothers to bring harm unto others. And when sorority women continue to attend fraternity events, they are passively allowing this systemic issue to go unresolved.
All Greek life organizations should take a stand against sexual violence against women until the Panhellenic Council, Interfraternity Council and UCSB leadership find a way to protect female students. There are small steps that UCSB Greek life can take in finding a solution. UCSB fraternities should adhere to the no-hard-liquor policy that the Northern American Interfraternity Conference passed for implementation no later than Sept 1, 2019. And following UC Berkeley’s example, upon entry at fraternity events, participants should meet designated sober brothers, fraternity members who will not be drinking at the event, and be informed of the pillars of consent, a thorough definition of the components of consent.
These crimes happen in the fraternity member’s space, in his house and under his control. The fraternities provide the alcohol and the event space.
So again, what do the women provide?
Abbigale Berry believes Greek life has the potential to empower young women and men only when issues of sexism and power are addressed.
This article is poorly written, whatever point you were trying to get across was lost in your lack of knowledge and inaccuracy.
Yet you read the whole thing and then took extra time to formulate and post your comment so clearly the piece had SOME impact, didn’t it?!
Article was a f—- joke.
Strong, well-reasoned response. Kudos.
Women do have options if they’re worried: how about not drinking or just not go if you’re that afraid?
Okay sure, but why can’t we have both? Like, yeah, girls have the option not participate at all. However, wouldn’t it be cool if the environment was one where girls could go out and have fun without the looming threat of sexual assault.
“I couldn’t believe that fraternity events gave men the power to directly objectify and degrade me”
Awwww, somebody had trouble getting into a frat party and it made her victim complex act up! Cry me a river. Do you know what a bouncer is lmfao
Hey girl, are you an obelisk? Cuz I have no idea what the hell an obelisk is and I’m trying to use the process of elimination
Wow, this is such a crafty comeback!! You go, boy! Your parents must be proud of your use of the word, obelisk! Twice!! Yeehaw!
This article is awesome!! Don’t quite get why there’s so many mean comments she’s simply telling us the facts about the inequalities women face especially on a college campus. Also to the comment saying “if they’re worried: how about not drinking or just not go if you’re that afraid?”, umm how about women shouldn’t have to feel afraid to have fun, just like guys do! Let’s take ourselves out of this bubble and realize girls should be able to have fun and party with out feeling unsafe.
My parents taught me it takes two to tango and that everyone is responsible for the results of their actions. That includes the potential consequences of getting so wasted you can’t look after yourself. You don’t want negative consequences, use some common sense: don’t get drunk, don’t leave your drink where it can be spiked, and don’t wander off with some guy you don’t know. Safe spaces don’t exist in the real world.
I am sure that is EXACTLY what your parents were talking about when they said, “it takes two to tango.” You are a true learner.
Ditto. Reading many of the comments on line it seems that if this is representative of Greek life, then Greek life is antithetical to rational discourse — i.e., not appropriate for an institute oi learning.
Lol. Women should be held responsible for their behavior as much as men. If they get so drunk they can’t look after themselves, then I’m not going to be sympathetic if something happens. What happened to common sense? Did political correctness kill it on college campuses.
??? So women should be held responsible if they get raped because some frat boi wanted to get laid??
Rotfflmfao. Bad decisions lead to bad outcomes at times. To be blunt, I don’t believe 85% of the crap that’s put out about sexual assault at UCSB or any other university campus. Oh, I jump through the hoops of the annual training but it’s founded on myth and is absolute trash.
This is like some uptight schoolmarm banning tag because some kid got hurt or the popular kids use it to pick on their preferred victims. I happen to think that women are strong, capable adults; thus, they can make calculated decisions based on information that’s easily accessible. You know how frat parties work, what to expect, what the men inside desire, and that a small portion of them host parties so they can victimize people in much the same way a large portion of street performers are charlatans. If you know all this and don’t like it, either don’t go,… Read more »
“you and all women can just not go and stop feeding the demand for these parties”
This would make perfect sense if sororities could host their own parties…
but they can’t since they aren’t allowed to have alcohol as per the NPC guidelines.
There’s a joke in the Greek world: that fraternity insurance rates are so high because women go to the fraternities to get drunk because they can’t do it in their own house.
If you had a party at your own house would you let any random person in?? Lmao not letting people in does not have to do with objectifying and degrading you. It’s their house that they live in and they have the right to let who they want into it.
Nexus editors should be ashamed that this article was posted. Not just because it is poorly written, but because it has outright lies. Fraternity members aren’t more likely to rape than the general population. I’m not even in a frat but I know it’s false, especially since the study they cited didn’t match the claim. Embarrassing.
1. This is a quote from the study linked in the article. “Among men on college campuses, fraternity men are more likely to commit rape than other college men (Bleeker & Murnen, 2005;Boeringer, 1999). ” 2. If we look at the studies that the original study cites we find this… 2a.Fraternity Membership, the Display of Degrading Sexual Images of Women, and Rape Myth Acceptance: Bleeker & Murnen, 2005 “Fraternity men were found to have significantly higher scores on a rape supportive attitude scale (RSA).” -This means fraternity men were more likely to support rapists and believe in “rape myths”. 2b.… Read more »
Do you want to know what is really embarrassing? This sentence (is really embarrassing): “Not just because it is poorly written, but because it has outright lies.” Are you in college also?
This article is not only filled with false information, but it is also inherently obvious how biased it is. It is articles like this that continue to bring down the validity of the once reliable Daily Nexus. This platform has become a place for students to rant about their opinions and feel as if they are validated because it is published by a university source. Personally, I think this piece does nothing but perpetuate a problem. You provided no solid argument, no counter arguments, and no valid information. The daily nexus needs to do a much better job at proofing… Read more »
It’s true that fraternities can objectify and degrade women at times. They are much more likely to let in “hot” women than women they deem unattractive, but your point that you were not let in simply because you could not call one of the members is not enough of a proving point.
Thank you for your article, Abbi. I am disturbed to hear about your experience and encourage you to NOT dwell on the negative comments. Clearly, you hit a nerve with many – presumably because of your unflattering, but accurate portrayal of reality in that space at UCSB. Keep on writing your truth. Many of us are listening and your voice has power!
You should write a novel haha get it cuz novels are fictional
great article! but what about the frat bros that spray painted the “n word” on my black roommates car? thats ok all of a sudden?