Sunday, December 7, 2014

Let's Make a Deal

Recently, there has been a bit of a push to ban fraternities in various colleges and universities in the hopes of reducing the serious problem of rape among college students, which is often fueled by alcohol.   This debate on whether or not to ban frats is not a new one, but was recently reopened following several scandals on the way several colleges currently (mis)handle the issue of campus sexual assault.  Some people think it is a great idea, while others feel that doing so would be throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water.

So where does Twenty-One Debunked stand on this particular issue?  Well, we should first and foremost note that the only thing that actually causes rape is the rapists themselves, period.   While alcohol (among other substances) can indeed fuel it and is often used as a weapon to incapacitate victims, rape would simply not happen without rapists.  And the onus should always fall on men not to rape in the first place, instead of falling on women not to get raped.  That said, many fraternities are notorious for being a virtual microcosm of rape culture, which consists of the various attitudes and behaviors that support rape in one way or another.  And while removing such groups from the equation would not eliminate rape entirely, it would certainly make a non-trivial dent in the problem, given that frat brothers are statistically about three times more likely to commit rape compared to college men who are non-members.  Interestingly, Greek organizations are mainly an American thing, since most other countries either don't have them at all, or in the case of Canada, they exist in far less prominence than they do over here.  Gee, I wonder why?

Thus, Twenty-One Debunked would basically be fine with banning frats to one degree or another, with the following caveats attached to the deal.  First, the drinking age needs to be lowered to 18 yesterday, and not only would that result in many frats having a "going out of business" party (since their speakeasy-like services will no longer be needed) or at least a reduction in their relative power and prominence, it would also result in at least somewhat safer drinking practices since alcohol would no longer be forced underground anymore.  Second, to avoid throwing out the baby with the bathwater, we should allow frats to continue existing if they become fully coed, including their leaders.  It's almost 2015 now, and it's about time!  And if any frats want to remain all-male, they should be able to do so if and only if they exist entirely off-campus and receive absolutely no recognition, endorsement, or privileges from the college, including use of campus facilities.  Do these things and the connection between fraternities and rape would simply wither on the vine rather quickly.

Of course, it should go without saying that the problem of sexual violence is by no means just a frat problem, and broader-based strategies for tackling it also need to be implemented yesterday as well.  We absolutely need to change the culture on this issue (an excellent campaign can be found here), as well as hold the perpetrators (and their accomplices/enablers) accountable regardless of what connections they have or what socioeconomic status they belong to.  And for the record, Twenty-One Debunked fully supports California's new "Yes Means Yes" law for colleges and universities.  Anything less would be uncivilized.


  1. It should up to universities to ban fraternities. Banning fraternities is not a sure answer for reducing rapes in universities because a better approach is to change the university culture towards young women by fraternity members and other young men. A drinking age of 18 would reduce the power of fraternities since young women and young men wouldn't need to go to fraternities to drink alcoholic beverages. The "Yes Means Yes" is a good law which universities and colleges around the country should implement. A drinking age of 18, an improved culture in universities towards young women and a diminished power for fraternities would go a very long way towards solving the problem of rapes in universities.

  2. I agree that it should be up to universities do decide whether or not to ban fraternities, and ideally the decision would be done democratically by the student body. Such a ban would really be a sort of "nuclear option", much like the concept of the "corporate death penalty" being applied to corporations who commit egregious crimes (would that it were actually done!).

  3. I forgot to mention in my post that another good idea would be to legalize cannabis for everyone 18 and older as well, thus allowing college students to make the safer choice. Unlike alcohol, cannabis is really not a particularly notorious "date rape drug", nor is it likely associated with violent behavior in general. And if both alcohol and cannabis were legal for everyone 18 and older, neither would be forced underground anymore for college students, and both would thus become safer.

    But ultimately, it's the overall culture that needs to change most if we want to see real progress.

  4. Hi, Anthony! I was wondering why you commented on my TSAP blog instead, lol. I haven't been checking or updating the Twenty-One Debunked as much as the TSAP one lately.

    1. Just trying to reach you. Anyway, it appears that the movement has lost its momentum.

  5. I think the movement is trying to gain momentum. Phyllis Kahn, a state legislator, has introduced a bill which would lower the drinking age to 18 in Minnesota. The governor of Minnesota is against the bill unfortunately. However, legislators like Phyllis Kahn are our allies.