Maybe it’s the mountain air

The BBC has had a team living next to the University of Colorado at Boulder campus for a month.

The issue of sexual assaults at US colleges was raised repeatedly by students we met.

It is a national problem, with studies suggesting one in five women will be victims during their time at university.

And it is a serious problem at CU-Boulder too. The college is on the White House’s list of schools suspected of Title IX violations – that’s a law guaranteeing that women in federally-funded universities won’t face discrimination due to their gender.

More than 70 schools including CU-Boulder are accused of having improperly dealt with sexual assault cases, and are now the target of a federal investigation.

Cue Christina Hoff Sommers saying it’s all grossly exaggerated and besides boys like to squirm a lot in school so no fair.

While sexual assault is not a problem specific to fraternities, studies have shown that on college campuses, men who join a fraternity are three times more likely to rape than other men.

The White House launched a campaign last week called “It’s On Us”. The initiative is aimed at encouraging male students to intervene to stop abusive behaviour.

Yes but what about the sororities? What about the drunk women barging into the frat houses? Be fair!


  1. PatrickG says

    You can’t stop the drunk women. Just can’t! They’re 50′ tall AND they’re drunk! They’re stomping on fraternity houses everywhere!

    Wait, I may have this confused with some classic B-movie…

  2. Athywren says

    OMG! It’s so demonising against men to suggest that we might be able and willing to stop other people from committing crimes! Why don’t we just force their targets to just hide from the world and live in fear for a change? Also, how dare they be afraid of me when I am no threat to them and demonstrate this by arguing in defence of those who are a threat to them?!

  3. says

    I received my degrees from CU Boulder. The sad thing is, I can clearly recall the sexual assault problem there being just as bad back in 1985 as it is today–if anything, it’s probably worse today; there is very little desire on the part of the Regents to do anything about it and the police are habitually ineffectual. Christina Hoff Sommers, as usual, has no idea what she is talking about.

  4. Phillip Hallam-Baker says

    The problem does seem to have something to do with the fraternities and US campus structure. UK universities don’t have their own police forces. Rape and sexual assaults do not appear to be anything like as common as one in five.

    But another major difference is that the drinking age in the UK is 18. And so the students drink in bars on campus rather than at parties where binge drinking is expected. Drinking is a much bigger part of student culture but getting drunk is not. Having the boys go live in a boys-only drinking club seems like a very bad idea. Its not like 19 year olds are exactly known for their common sense.

    Another big problem is the legacy of ‘Animal House’ which is taken by many as documentary rather than satire. The initiation ceremony was intended to be ridiculous. But there are now companies that sell paddleboards painted with the logo of your fraternity. Life imitates art, especially when young and rather suggestible people are concerned.

  5. Kevin Kehres says

    @5 Phillip Hallam-Baker

    Logo-decorated paddleboards pre-dated Animal House by many decades, if not centuries. And, in fact, were a routine part of a pledge’s initiation ritual to many fraternities. Yes, they really were used. And really, really meant to inflict pain.

  6. Phillip Hallam-Baker says

    @6 Kevin,

    I am finding some references to pre 1976 paddling. But they all involved the pledge making their own paddle. Which makes a lot more sense than allowing them to buy one.

    But you are right. It appears that quasi-consensual homo-erotic sadomasochism was common in fraternities even before the satire.

  7. johnthedrunkard says

    How did frat-boy sexual pathology get expressed when colleges excluded women students?

    It seems clear that sadistic hazing and group sponsored binge-drinking at fraternities hae histories that reach back more than a century. When, and how, did the rape culture become a ‘normal’ aspect of the greek system?

    I think there is a history PhD waiting for someone… or maybe abnormal psych?

  8. says

    The only Frat I thought about joining was the music major one. I never liked the alcohol induced aggression from the other frats. But one night. My girlfriend and I, with another couple (who are now a family) walked up to a frat party at Pitt State. The guy at the gate said it was Alumni night, and we couldn’t come in. It was understandable. But the door dude, as we started walking away, told us that our girlfriends were welcome to join. I can’t remember what I said to him. Whatever it was, he followed us for several blocks trying to convince us that they are not misogynists.

  9. Athywren says

    But the door dude, as we started walking away, told us that our girlfriends were welcome to join. I can’t remember what I said to him. Whatever it was, he followed us for several blocks trying to convince us that they are not misogynists.

    Nah, c’mon, there’s no way that counts a misogyny – they’re welcoming women! If anything, it’s misandry!

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