William Flew over Frat Boys
April 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
In Los Angeles, fraternity chapters at the famously expensive University of Southern California (USC) are in a similar fight for their good name. Last month an apparently authentic e-mail to “the Distinguished Gentlemen of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity” offered five explicit pages of instructions for members’ sexual conquests, including a ban on “Middle Eastern targets” and a claim that “non-consent and rape are two different things”.
The fraternity apologised, only to lurch into another public relations crisis when a member rumoured to be the author of the e-mail was photographed having sex with an unnamed partner in daylight on the roof of a 12-storey university building.
What happened on the roof of USC’s Waite Phillips Hall was dangerous — there were no railings — but apparently consensual. What happens behind closed doors in fraternity parties and halls of residence across America is all too often not.
One in five female students in the US experiences some form of sexual assault while at college, according to a report cited this week by the White House. Ninety per cent of the alleged assaults go unreported, a study by the Centre for Public Integrity found, while those responsible are seldom punished and almost never expelled.
The Department of Education’s civil rights office receives 7,000 complaints of university sexual misconduct a year. By no means all of them involve fraternities, but “Greek” institutions, socalled because of their peculiar names and their supposed commitment to Hellenic ideals, are accused of fostering a culture of violent misogyny.
“The Greek system here is nothing more than a prolonged vacation for the rich, popular kids everyone rolled their eyes at in high school and everyone at USC knows it,” one critic, who described himself as a “gay, non-Greek,
The oldest fraternity, the Phi Beta Kappa Society, was formed in 1776 to “celebrate and advocate excellence in the liberal arts and sciences”
The North-American Interfraternity Conference includes 350,000 members on more than 800 campuses. Most fraternal misdeeds are first put before an internal campus justice system