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Greek System Is Standing In The Way Of Tackling Campus Sexual Assault

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Greek System Is Standing In The Way Of Tackling Campus Sexual Assault

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Fraternities and sororities have a choice. Either they can be part of the solution to campus sexual assaults or they can choose to be part of the problem.

Guess which direction the major Greek system associations are going?

They’ve hired a heavy-hitting lobbyist to advance a bill in Congress that would hamper colleges’ ability to investigate sexual assault allegations. The bill, misleadingly dubbed the Safe Campus Act, would bar university administrators from conducting inquiries into such cases until the victims reported the assaults to the police.

The attitude behind the bill seems to be: If the purported crime is so serious, let the police handle it. What’s wrong with that? Advocates for survivors of sexual attacks argue that such a law would discourage, not encourage, more victims from coming forward. Given the stigma still associated with this highly underreported crime, that extra onus will surely result in less cooperation from victims.

And never mind that a police investigation could take years. A predator could attack other students and earn their full degree before the courts finish.

Fortunately, there is a better bill, the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, that addresses the problem in the right way and has strong bipartisan support. The bill’s principal sponsors, Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) happen to be proud sorority women (Kappa Alpha Theta and Kappa Kappa Gamma, respectively), and they held a press call on Thursday to vent their rage that the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) and the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) could support such counterproductive legislation.

McCaskill and Gillibrand have a long history of leadership addressing sexual assault. First, they teamed to get better standards and procedures accepted by the military for assaults that occur within the armed services. McCaskill surveyed colleges and universities, finding that 40 percent admitted that they hadn’t investigated a single sexual assault allegation in five years.

Changing that dynamic, they believe, is key to making campuses safer. It appears it’s also a threat to the college Greek systems.

“We see too many students — accusers and accused — subjected to a campus disciplinary system that is unfair and opaque,” the NIC and NPC lamented in a joint letter to Congress this summer in support of the Campus Safety Act. Both organizations have shied from commenting since, letting their lead lobbyist, former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, make their case.

Deeper in the letter, the organizations fessed up to another concern. Greek organizations, especially fraternities, feel under attack, with university sanctions occurring upon entire chapters, not just individual members involved in misdeeds.

So apparently this discomfort justifies a law that will insure that fewer victims come forward?

What the NIC, the NPC and the Republican sponsors of their favored bill (Reps. Matt Salmon of Arizona, Kay Granger of Texas and Pete Sessions of Texas) seem to be missing is that McCaskill and Gillibrand’s bill has protections for accused, requiring written notification to them of any decision to move forward with a campus disciplinary proceeding within 24 hours of the decision. It also requires universities to enter into memoranda of understanding with each local law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction.

Moreover, the senators’ bill would require that all educational institutions use a uniform process for disciplinary proceedings, and it would end the practice of allowing athletic departments or other subsidiary administrators from handling complaints, under threat of fines or losing federal funding.

The Greek system has a long history of bad behavior, from hazing rituals gone wrong to drunk pledges falling out of windows to, yes, rape. The question has been raised more than once whether fraternities and sororities should even exist anymore. Through it all, these organizations have become quite adept at avoiding liability.

I’m a Delta Zeta, and I happen to think that the Greek system does a great deal of good that should not be dismissed. But I believe the Interfraternity and Panhellenic conferences are on the wrong side of this. I know I’m not alone

Indeed, by calling out the terrible legislation the Greek conferences are pushing, McCaskill and Gillibrand are banking on the likelihood that fraternity and sorority members on campuses nationwide — not to mention the nearly 10 million Greek system alumni — probably don’t know about it.

But we all know this: Rapes and other sexual assaults are still among the most underreported crimes in America. Victims need more, not less, encouragement to come forward, supported by professionalized processes that are fair to all.

If that shines an unflattering light on some fraternities and sororities, that’s a small price to pay for making campuses safer for all.

(Mary Sanchez is an opinion-page columnist for The Kansas City Star. Readers may write to her at: Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108-1413, or via e-mail at msanchez@kcstar.com.) (c) 2015, THE KANSAS CITY STAR. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC

Photo: John W. Iwanski via Flickr

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Mary Sanchez

Mary Sanchez has spent years covering immigration, schools, and other volatile beats for The Kansas City Star. She is now an editorial columnist for the Star, where she continues to offer insightful commentary on immigration, culture, and politics.

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26 Comments

  1. Corey Mondello October 31, 2015

    I can’t wait until White Christian men are a minority, the world will be a better place!!!

    Reply
    1. Otto Greif October 31, 2015

      Black men rape at higher rates than other races.

      Reply
      1. BillP October 31, 2015

        Do you ever bother to research something before you spew your uninformed and inaccurate comments? Per the FBI table 43 statistics there were 13,515 rapes this year with “whites” committing 8,946 or 66.2% while blacks committed 4,229 or 31.3%. That’s less than half of the amount of rapes committed by “whites”. As usual you just write something that exists only in your deluded mind.

        Reply
        1. Otto Greif October 31, 2015

          Blacks are 12% of the population, but they commit 31.3% of rapes, a much higher rate than other races. Are you black? Because you can’t do grade school math. Note that white category groups whites and Hispanics together.

          Reply
          1. BillP November 2, 2015

            That’s not what you wrote you state that they rape at a higher rate than whites. You offered no data other than your biased ad ignorant opinion. Here’s your comment “Black men rape at higher rates than other races”. You should write what you mean and not some incomplete comment. In population studies and FBI reports they break out the total white population into non-Hispanic whites and whites. Why is my race important to you and you ignorant comment is so typical of low intelligent whites like you.

            Reply
          2. Otto Greif November 2, 2015

            You don’t know what a rate is, hilarious. Go back to grade school.

            Reply
          3. BillP November 3, 2015

            I know what a rate is but it could be a rate per total population or per race or per age, etc. You are just a typical biased white male. You like to insult people without knowing who they are, why is my race important to you and why would you assume that being black I wouldn’t know grade school math? My credentials are fine but your writing shows you be a bigoted troll.

            Reply
          4. Otto Greif November 3, 2015

            You’ve demonstrated you don’t know grade school math.

            Reply
          5. BillP November 4, 2015

            Do you write your racist comments in your klan outfit? Keeping my comments short so you don’t overtax your bigoted little brain.

            Reply
          6. Otto Greif November 4, 2015

            It’s not racist to make fun of your inability to do grade school math.

            Reply
          7. BillP November 5, 2015

            It is when you bring race into the comment. Here is your statement ” Are you black? Because you can’t do grade school math.” That comment shows your true racist self, you are just another angry white man who has nothing but negativity in your life.

            Reply
          8. Otto Greif November 5, 2015

            But I was right, he is black.

            Reply
          9. BillP November 6, 2015

            Who is the he you are referring to? Me or someone else? Your reply doesn’t make sense.

            Reply
      2. Insinnergy November 1, 2015

        Stupid troll is stupid.

        Reply
        1. Otto Greif November 1, 2015

          You can verify that fact with Obama’s Dept. of Justice.

          Reply
      3. Corey Mondello November 17, 2015

        rate? as in percentage? then heterosexual men molest and rape children far more than all other groups combined if you use that analagy

        Reply
        1. Otto Greif November 17, 2015

          Homosexuals rape children at a higher rate than heterosexuals.

          Reply
          1. Corey Mondello November 17, 2015

            homosexuals are not pedophles

            Reply
          2. Otto Greif November 17, 2015

            If they aren’t pedophiles why are they raping so many children?

            Reply
  2. Otto Greif October 31, 2015

    Liberals should stay out of people’s bedrooms.

    Reply
    1. BillP October 31, 2015

      You really meant to say that Conservative and/or Evangelicals should stay out of people’s bedrooms.

      Reply
      1. Otto Greif October 31, 2015

        Try reading the story before commenting.

        Reply
    2. Insinnergy November 1, 2015

      At least you got your spelling right today.

      Reply
    3. Niall Hosking December 4, 2015

      When those bedrooms are used for rape, and universities and fraternities turn a blind eye to it, why should we?

      Reply
  3. Cedar Cat October 31, 2015

    Excellent. Fraternities were the sites of many rapes and gang-rapes during my undergraduate years. Perhaps returning the House Mothers to the fraternities might calm things down a bit. I mean, unsupervised young men, with unlimited amounts of alcohol? What could possibly go wrong?

    Reply
  4. bcarreiro November 1, 2015

    Alcohol should be banned and if the justice system had a twenty five year sentence or more to go with it this would actually reduce this crime from happening.

    Reply

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