Community nonconsensual fondling

Josephine Woolington at the Oregon newspaper the Register-Guard writes about a research finding that students at fraternities and sororities report a higher incidence of nonconsensual contact.

Nearly 40 percent of women in UO sororities said in a survey that they have experienced an attempted or completed rape and 48 percent said they experienced some kind of non­consensual sexual contact, according to the survey conducted by UO professor and sexual violence expert Jennifer Freyd, along with graduate students Marina Rosenthal and Carly Smith.

Men in fraternities also were more likely to have experienced some form of non­consensual sexual contact compared with other students, but were not more likely to have experienced an attempted or completed rape. About 26 percent of fraternity men said they experienced nonconsensual activity — in most cases, fondling — the data show.

Freyd and her graduate students will analyze the data to try to discern why Greek life members — those who belong to a sorority or fraternity — are more at risk of becoming a victim than are other students.

It’s puzzling, isn’t it. In a way you would expect the membership thing to make uninvited groping and rape less likely rather than more, because of the sociality of the arrangement. Groping and rape should, from that pov, be more for outsiders. But I have no clue, really – I never went near them when I was at university.

She said some factors that they’re considering is alcohol use and whether Greek life students are more likely to believe that victims are to blame for some rapes, such as if a woman is wearing revealing clothing or is intoxicated.

Freyd earlier this month presented her preliminary data to a University Senate task force that is evaluating the UO’s sexual violence policies and will make a series of recommendations next week to administrators on how to improve those policies and implement new ones.

The 19-member Task Force to Address Sexual Violence and Survivor Support — made up of UO faculty, students and a U.S. attorney — was formed earlier this year, shortly after three UO basketball players were accused of raping an 18-year-old student.

But remember: sport is good for the character.

UO Dean of Students Paul Shang said he hadn’t looked at Freyd’s data in much detail, but emphasized that the research should not overshadow the community service that fraternity and sorority members provide to the university and to local charities. He said many students are interested in coming to the UO because of its Greek life culture.

The…what? Is that what fraternities and sororities are known for?

Shang said the UO plans to expand Greek life to where 20 percent of undergraduate students are members of a fraternity or sorority, compared with the current 15 percent.

Why? What’s good about them? What are they besides a way for a minority of students to consider themselves Special?

Carol Stabile, the University Senate task force’s co-­chairwoman and a professor of journalism and women’s and gender studies, said the task force’s recommendations are likely to include mandating sexual violence prevention training for at-risk groups, including Greek life students.

Stabile said research like Freyd’s shows that “fraternities are dangerous places for women.”

“It’s really dangerous to be advocating for expansion without addressing problems that we know already exist,” Stabile said.

But community service – like barfing all over town every Saturday night.



  1. qwints says

    It’s worth pointing out that this result uses is a narrower definition than the well known 1 in 5 number from the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study. This is literally 40% of sorority members saying someone either tried to or did penetrate them without their consent, as apposed to the CSA definition of sexual assault which including other forms of sexual battery.

  2. says

    Makes me glad my undergrad alma banned Greek letter societies about 50 years before I got there. Of course, these things have never been as popular north of the border.

  3. says

    Yeah, the “Greek” organisations exist in Canada, but they have no where near the impact they do in the US. I suspect a lot of Canadians, even those who went to universities with active groups, don’t realise they exist up here.

  4. jenniferphillips says

    So, why can’t the students do community service without being in a frat or sorority?

    They certainly can here at the University of Oregon (you know, the place with that admirable Greek system in the OP) there is a service learning cohort through the college of Education. Students participating in this program live together in a dorm and engage in various community outreach endeavors throughout their school year. It is limited to Ed majors, whereas fraternities and sororities are mostly not major-dependent, but it’s not like that’s an insurmountable problem.

    Funnily enough, these Service Learning participants get no press at all. I only know about the program because I’ve used their volunteers for some large elementary school fundraising event’s I’ve helped to organize.

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